Gaijin Smash

Sour Apples – Part V

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on November 7, 2008

I was growing increasingly miserable at my job. The project I was given turned out to be much harder than expected. The more I progressed, the more things seemed to move further out of reach. It was like unlocking one door and finding three new locked doors behind it. I still had no one to help me, and now my ability to research was limited as I figured my computer screen was probably being monitored.
One of the most difficult aspects of the project was the handling of data. One early problem was that the data I got on our end was incomplete. I’d asked our computer programmer to create a data file for me, and he did, but for some reason two or three cells of every line of data were cut off – missing information. I asked him to remake the file, and he did, but the same problem arose. The computer programmer guy was plenty busy with work of his own, and I didn’t really feel like asking again – even if he did remake the file it probably would have had the same error again. So I set out to fix the file myself – which involved looking for the translation file, finding the particular line of data, and then fixing the cells that got cut off. I had to do this one by one, and considering I had to handle hundreds of product information data lines…well, it was a time-consuming task to say the least.
There was also the issue that I’d never really worked with processing data like this before. It took me a little while just to understand how it worked on our end. And then I had to figure out how it worked on eBay’s end. I’d never done this type of thing before, and suddenly I had to familiarize myself with two different formats of doing it.


But the biggest problem was that our data format, and the data format eBay wanted, just didn’t match up. At all. Even when I finally did figure out how eBay’s system worked, it was going to take a lot of work by hand just to make our data into something I could upload into eBay’s systems.
As my supervisor was always continually barking to me about reporting to and consulting with her, I decided to do just that. I wrote down some visual examples, translated it in Japanese, and took it to her desk one day to describe the difficulties I was having. After I illustrated my problems, her response was “Hey, that’s easy!” …It was anything but easy. I tried to re-explain my dilemma, but again, her response was, “You know, our data team does this everyday, so it’s not some impossible task. Hang in there.” It’s only in hindsight that I realize the utter ridiculousness of that reply. Our data team – team – implying more than one person, did this job everyday. As the data team, that was their job – they’d been trained to do it, and that was the primary thing they did. This was merely only one aspect of many that I had to do single-handedly. And that’s only for this project, let’s not forget that I couldn’t abandon some of my other English division duties lest I be seen as dumping my work off on my subordinates.
Curly sat next to me, and could see for himself the volume of work I had. It frustrated him that neither the president nor the supervisor could understand. Having some proficiency in coding, he created a few Excel functions which helped to automate and reduce some of the work I had to do. That was definitely a big help, but even with that there was still much to be done that just couldn’t be automated. Once, a group of new hires to the company were going around and observing everyone’s post, seeing what they were doing. When they came to my desk, I showed them one aspect of the project – cleaning up our data before I could process it. They all pretty much agreed that it seemed like a massive volume of work and wished me good luck. After they moved on, Curly and I both noted the significance of the brand new hires acknowledging that I had a whole lot of work to do, yet my bosses could not. And this was only one small aspect of the project!
Meanwhile, my supervisor continued to bulldog me whatever chance she got. If no chances were readily available, she went looking for them. During the weekly meeting I had to give reports about the status of the project. I’d say what I was working on and how much more had to be done. It was enough to satisfy the president’s curiousity, but from here without fail, the supervisor would start digging. She’d start asking me questions about various aspects of the projects, and continue to ask questions until she could find something she could criticize me about. If she asked me 10 questions, and I answered 9 of them in perfect detail, but didn’t know the answer to 1 of them, she immediately jumped down my throat. “Why don’t you know the answer to this? What are you doing? You need to work harder.” I’d love to say that I was over exaggerating her attempts to bulldog me, but if anything I’m afraid its being understated. At least once the president had to tell her “enough already” as she continued to try and find ways to come down on me. Other people who witnessed it would also ask me in private if I’d done something to piss her off on an extremely personal level.
After a while, I finally reached a point where I could get the project off the ground. I’d made some basic pages in HTML, and emailed the president, the supervisor, and all relevant parties about them and asked for advice and input. None ever came. Feeling continually pressured to show progress, when I came to the point where I could get the thing running I reported that it was possible. The president finally seemed pleased, so I launched the project. I knew it was far from perfect, but if I could at least get the damn thing running, maybe it would get some of the monkeys off my back and I could focus on improvement as I went along.
However, only a few days after the project had started, another meeting was held. The point of the meeting was basically to show me how I’d fucked the whole thing up. The quality of the HTML pages was far from adequate, I’d forgotten to include a lot of important information, I’d broken a few policy rules that I had no idea even existed, and a lot of other things I’ve long since forgotten. Although the meeting was basically a “This is what you did wrong” exhibition, most people there, including the president, were sympathetic, realizing that I’d never done this before and didn’t have any training or help. Except for, of course, the supervisor, who I figure must have wet her panties over so many opportunities to derail me, which she did so almost gleefully. After the meeting, I was now able to go to the computer programmer guy and the web design guy and the data team and ask for help, and actually get it. So that made my life easier, although I couldn’t help but to wonder why it took a “this is what you did wrong” meeting to get to this point. Especially since that wasn’t the first time they’d seen what I had been working on – I expect it wasn’t, unless they were just flat-out ignoring my emails.
Now with help, I was able to re-launch the project successfully – somewhat. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was at satisfactory operational levels. And there were still many, many things to be fixed, added, and improved on, but at least it was up and running. However, getting the project running would not signal the end of my problems at work. The worst was still yet to come.

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72 Responses

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  1. Azrael said, on November 7, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I have been told that I write too much at once, so I’m trying to write less and update more often. Thus, this rare Friday update.
    Also, I do kinda want to get to the end of this as soon as possible so I can move onto other more fun/interesting stuff.

  2. Ty said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Hey Az, I’ve never left a response before… but I’ve been interested in what you’ve had to say since the beginning. I dislike how you were pressured into dredging up ancient history as it is obvious to me that this memory in particular isn’t worth reminiscing. Anyway I just wanted to say that I respect you man. I’d wish you “good luck” but unfortunately I only believe in hard work, which is something I think you understand instinctively. Keep up the hard work man and I hope everything is looking up for you in the present!

  3. Junsai said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Your supervisor was a evil little bitch lol. Maybe she wasn’t getting any loving.

  4. Adamantyr said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Wow, that’s a seriously horrible job. I’ve been in ones that bad myself before. Reading your entries at work suddenly fired off my paranoia about getting blamed for things I had no control over…
    Just out of curiosity, which one of your co-workers was the hot older Japanese gal that you had some beer/beef fantasies about? Hopefully not the supervisor who became your worst enemy…
    (Az’s Note: Ironically enough, that’s the one.)

  5. tyrone said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Sounds like maybe they were trying to get rid of you by giving you all that work to do and then jumping down your throat when you couldn’t complete. Probably racism. You should sue.

  6. Corrupt_Ideal said, on November 7, 2008 at 3:10 am

    I know you really dislike telling this story (understandably so), but I’ve personally found this continued narrative to be fascinating and actually really insightful. I guess, to me, it seems to paint more of a realistic portrait of an aspect of society, over an extended period of time, rather than simply highlighting a specific cultural quirk and elaborating upon it in depth. I understand why you use the latter method frequently in your writings, but really think you have something of a talent for constructing this longer narrative.
    Even when you move onto brighter topics, I hope you will every now and then pen a tale in such a classic style. From the word choice to the pacing, your prose manages to be surprisingly gripping considering the content is mostly focused around work problems in an office. I’d definitely like to see what you could do with a fictional tale. As always, just my two cents.

  7. Justin said, on November 7, 2008 at 3:20 am

    What do you mean by “…and now my ability to research was limited as I figured my computer screen was probably being monitored.” Were they using VNC or something to monitor people’s computer activity or some kind of network traffic monitor?
    (Az’s Note: They had a direct line of sight to my monitor.)

  8. Spooky Electric said, on November 7, 2008 at 3:45 am

    Heh, I also wondered if this woman was your beer and beef goddess. Anyway, this job sounds extremely shitty, but at the very least, it’s over and done with now. Having said that, I’m still interested in reading the rest of the story.
    As for the length of your typical blogs, I’m fine with the long posts, but if shorter posts mean more frequent posts, I’m all for it.
    But really, whatever works for you yo.

  9. mojib said, on November 7, 2008 at 3:57 am

    You have me hanging onto every word of this little rollercoaster from hell. I have to give you props for hanging in that long under such a negative work environment. I hope you have a sense of catharsis when you finish writing about these experiences, this sort of thing is good to get off your chest.

  10. Jason said, on November 7, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Wow Az I would have to say your patience and ability to keep calm under the immense pressure is truly amazing. If this were Dragonball Z I would say you’ve already triggered enough anger switches inside to bump you to at least an Ascended Super Sayajin. In the next post are you gonna Grow the long gold locks of Lvl 3 and blow up the building with your rage?
    btw I’m a very long time reader and first time poster. Thanks so much for providing such high quality reading for so long

  11. Ivan the Terrible said, on November 7, 2008 at 4:49 am

    “Also, I do kinda want to get to the end of this as soon as possible so I can move onto other more fun/interesting stuff.”
    Understandable. I hope you don’t feel any pressure from the huddled masses reading your blog to write about stuff you aren’t interested in writing about, even if we’re sending donations that are helping you out. We may give you a hard time and be a pain in the ass sometimes, but in the end, it’s your blog, and anyone who is willing to donate money is probably willing to do so even without pictures or stories you wouldn’t otherwise tell.

    I’ll send you $100 if you post a video of you devouring a live kitten.

  12. Sarah13 said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:05 am

    I just wanted to say I’ve been totally riveted by this story, and you write extremely well, btw.
    I’m currently sitting in my tiny Kyoto apartment, eating gyoza, and hanging on every word.

  13. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:17 am

    I’m one of the people who felt you didn’t have to write this story…but since you are, I thought I’d make a comment/question. You said before, oh working in Japan isn’t this bad, this is just an exceptional case. Given what you said about the turnover, I’m willing to believe this is not very typical.
    Nonetheless, I’m distinctively sensing a lot of undercurrents in the events you describe. It seems to me there’s a lot of Japanese societal factors that just flew under your radar. Like your supervisor who became your enemy. You don’t seem to think, even now, that it was a big deal that you helped the person she was in charge of training. But it seems to me that there is some kind of cultural law that you broke. Given the Japanese’ adherence to hierarchies and following the rules, could you have inadvertently (even as innocent and helpful as you thought you were being) done something horribly offensive? Like, basically do the Japanese equivalent of accusing your supervisor of being an utterly complete incompetent who shouldn’t be working?
    I think, far from being an exception, probably you are managing to teach us readers that the Japanese workplace is a fucking dangerous place. It’s hard enough to navigate petty jealousies and unavoidable misunderstandings in the American workplace as a native. Going to Japan and trying to get along with people who are much less direct…wow, what a nightmare.

  14. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:17 am

    I’m one of the people who felt you didn’t have to write this story…but since you are, I thought I’d make a comment/question. You said before, oh working in Japan isn’t this bad, this is just an exceptional case. Given what you said about the turnover, I’m willing to believe this is not very typical.
    Nonetheless, I’m distinctively sensing a lot of undercurrents in the events you describe. It seems to me there’s a lot of Japanese societal factors that just flew under your radar. Like your supervisor who became your enemy. You don’t seem to think, even now, that it was a big deal that you helped the person she was in charge of training. But it seems to me that there is some kind of cultural law that you broke. Given the Japanese’ adherence to hierarchies and following the rules, could you have inadvertently (even as innocent and helpful as you thought you were being) done something horribly offensive? Like, basically do the Japanese equivalent of accusing your supervisor of being an utterly complete incompetent who shouldn’t be working?
    I think, far from being an exception, probably you are managing to teach us readers that the Japanese workplace is a fucking dangerous place. It’s hard enough to navigate petty jealousies and unavoidable misunderstandings in the American workplace as a native. Going to Japan and trying to get along with people who are much less direct…wow, what a nightmare.

  15. Jamie said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Yeesh, the last few posts are playing out similarly to Dancer in the Dark. It sucks that, while you provide us with a chuckle (not these serious articles of course) to lighten our tough times, you get to take it in the neck from the slings and arrows of outrageous whatsit.

  16. muzras said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:27 am

    douchies at teh work. 😦

  17. CF said, on November 7, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Oh, for those halcyon days when your biggest worry
    was “Am I going to have my ass poked, or my dick
    grabbed, today?”…. 😛

  18. psychosomatic said, on November 7, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Okay I apologise for your 2 month no show. My heart seriously goes out to you Az, she sounds like a Douche and I hope you don’t turn into one of those japanese men who die from stress. MOVE TO THE US NAO NAO NAO!

  19. russian pineapple said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:05 am

    you did something to piss her off in your “you are what you drink” entry
    the best thing is you don`t remember anything from that night

  20. Seraph said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:12 am

    I agree with Ty. Your supervisor was probably not getting any “lovin” so to speak.
    …OR
    she was simply frustrated at not being able to access/harness all of your raw, sexual power.
    Sort of like how little boys pull little girls’ hair to show that they like them; if that makes any kind of twisted sense.

  21. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:14 am

    my apologies, I agree with Junsai about the “no lovin” thing

  22. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:14 am

    my apologies, I agree with Junsai about the “no lovin” thing

  23. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:34 am

    You know, this kind of situation has been described to me in almost exactly the same detail once or twice before with friends, and has happened to me once. I think what you have here is an example of you not playing office politics, and your supervisor playing a really aggressive game. If you get a couple of promotions due to hard work, but the next level is glass ceiling land, you’re going to get shafted like this, no matter how great a job you do, just because they can’t acknowledge that you are doing good without having to reward you. So, they stomp on you to cow you into staying put in the company. I mean, whose job would you be taking if you did get promoted? Your supervisor. Who was gunning for you? Your supervisor. It’s just crappy corporate politics at work. I had the same thing happen to me, and right before I left the company, my supervisor told me exactly what she was doing and why, and then went, “Nothing personal” after almost a year of constant abuse.

  24. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:34 am

    You know, this kind of situation has been described to me in almost exactly the same detail once or twice before with friends, and has happened to me once. I think what you have here is an example of you not playing office politics, and your supervisor playing a really aggressive game. If you get a couple of promotions due to hard work, but the next level is glass ceiling land, you’re going to get shafted like this, no matter how great a job you do, just because they can’t acknowledge that you are doing good without having to reward you. So, they stomp on you to cow you into staying put in the company. I mean, whose job would you be taking if you did get promoted? Your supervisor. Who was gunning for you? Your supervisor. It’s just crappy corporate politics at work. I had the same thing happen to me, and right before I left the company, my supervisor told me exactly what she was doing and why, and then went, “Nothing personal” after almost a year of constant abuse.

  25. janet said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Hello Az! I was just curious as to if you are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo? Some of the other blogs I have been reading are, so I was just wondering. Because you’d be a totally awesome writer.

  26. Dave Worley said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Hi Az, not commented your stuff in ages but am still an avid reader.
    I’m afraid that whilst this is a horribly sickening story of the workplace I’m hanging on to every word with curiosity and almost sadistic glee every time it gets worse. Am I a bad person?
    In truth – all I can say is thank fuck you’re out of there. And that supervisor may have taken a keyboard to the face. What a fucking bitch!
    Peace

  27. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Okay, the weird part to me is by the sound of it this was really a web sales project (ebay) to be managed by someone who normally coordinates that, using all the appropriate groups. The English Translation team being just ONE of the groups.
    Not dumped onto the English Director to coordinate when they don’t normally do that.
    And certainly not for the English Director to lead a project from a different department– I mean who coordinates the whole web site? That person should have overseen it–the person who says, data team do this, computer guy do that, translator do that.
    Because it was English it should start with the English Director sitting right next to the Project Manager (or owner) as ebay was pulled up on the computer. They’d look over the site, give a verbal translation, and the *project manager* would list what needed to be done (get cc info) and open up the scope as needed (involve the computer guy for the HTML, involve the date team for data massage, involve the translators where appropriate).
    That they had you do it all is bizarre!
    What would they do if they were a Japanese Aeronautics company? “We’re going to work on a project with Boeing. We have to build a plane according to their specs. Obviously we don’t know English, but that’s what we have translators for! Hey, English Translation Director, can you talk to Boeing, do all the procurement of aircraft parts, take the deliveries, rewrite plane designs with the American engineers and then build the plane? That’d be great…”

  28. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Okay, the weird part to me is by the sound of it this was really a web sales project (ebay) to be managed by someone who normally coordinates that, using all the appropriate groups. The English Translation team being just ONE of the groups.
    Not dumped onto the English Director to coordinate when they don’t normally do that.
    And certainly not for the English Director to lead a project from a different department– I mean who coordinates the whole web site? That person should have overseen it–the person who says, data team do this, computer guy do that, translator do that.
    Because it was English it should start with the English Director sitting right next to the Project Manager (or owner) as ebay was pulled up on the computer. They’d look over the site, give a verbal translation, and the *project manager* would list what needed to be done (get cc info) and open up the scope as needed (involve the computer guy for the HTML, involve the date team for data massage, involve the translators where appropriate).
    That they had you do it all is bizarre!
    What would they do if they were a Japanese Aeronautics company? “We’re going to work on a project with Boeing. We have to build a plane according to their specs. Obviously we don’t know English, but that’s what we have translators for! Hey, English Translation Director, can you talk to Boeing, do all the procurement of aircraft parts, take the deliveries, rewrite plane designs with the American engineers and then build the plane? That’d be great…”

  29. P-dubb said, on November 7, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Is it possible that the supervisor was pissed because she may have wanted some Az lovin’, therefore you possibly spurned her in addition to the cold treatment you gave her later on? Sounds like she clearly had a personal vendetta against you, especially if you were the only one in the office who she treated this way.

  30. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Actually it sounds to me if you had been able to pull of this project you could have taken over the company.
    Maybe it was like “Charley and the Chocolate Factory” and your president was looking for his heir.
    I don’t know how Japanese office politics works, but I wonder if you would have been able to marshal the appropriate resources using the owner’s name. Since he assigned it(?) you could tell your supervisor “I need this from the accountant, this from the computer programmer, this from the data team” when you were in the various stages but always attaching the following sentence: “This is for the owner’s ebay project.”
    /2020hindsight
    I do know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have the power to get what you need to get your work done, though.
    It sounds like no matter what you did they were looking for a way to fault you. Ironically that does seem to happen after you’ve contributed a lot. I guess it seems like they want to even things out so you don’t feel special or valuable.

  31. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Actually it sounds to me if you had been able to pull of this project you could have taken over the company.
    Maybe it was like “Charley and the Chocolate Factory” and your president was looking for his heir.
    I don’t know how Japanese office politics works, but I wonder if you would have been able to marshal the appropriate resources using the owner’s name. Since he assigned it(?) you could tell your supervisor “I need this from the accountant, this from the computer programmer, this from the data team” when you were in the various stages but always attaching the following sentence: “This is for the owner’s ebay project.”
    /2020hindsight
    I do know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have the power to get what you need to get your work done, though.
    It sounds like no matter what you did they were looking for a way to fault you. Ironically that does seem to happen after you’ve contributed a lot. I guess it seems like they want to even things out so you don’t feel special or valuable.

  32. A.M. said, on November 7, 2008 at 9:28 am

    A buddy of mine is in a similar situation right now. He’s just gotten out of college and this is his first “adult” job and they’re running him through the wringer. Social warfare, political backstabbery, blame-shifting, lack of support it’s all there. The worst part is that his job is to help people who had to go on disability leave find new jobs. He’s so busy trying to keep the whole thing from coming down on him that he’s having trouble caring about his clients anymore. It’s rough to watch from the outside, I can’t imagine how it must be from the inside.

  33. Polaryzed said, on November 7, 2008 at 9:55 am

    WORSE THINGS TO COME?!? Jesus H Christ on a Cracker! This story has turned into my very own e-Crack. Please gimme another hit. Please! I’ll do anything…PLEASE!
    Side note: I’ve said in previous comments and I’ll state it again. So far this is a (warped) mirror image of something that happened to me in my career when I got my first large project. However, it kinda stopped after this. There wasn’t a “worst still to come”. Well, there kinda was. But not to the point that I quit. Just almost quit. This project had me travel across the country to CA (I’m from East Coast USA). After having these same types of issues and being away from the wife for over a month my best friend from High School was killed in an accident and my mother went into the hospital with an unknown illness. My boss wasn’t going to let me come home. Want the details then e-mail me cuz I can sympathize. You’ll feel like you heard the story before…

  34. Jon Helgi said, on November 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Only time i have met women that difficult is when she wanted to sleep with me and i did not. Relations after that were strained to say the least.

  35. Hermes said, on November 7, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I completely agree with tyrone’s post. This ongoing story is incredibly engrossing and I find it a highly insightful, entertaining read.
    Keep up the great posts Az. You’re one of the few bloggers that still has the integrity and humbleness that allows me to relate to you and your stories.

  36. Laafje said, on November 7, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Wow.. you know, at the end of every update, you say “The worst was yet to come”, and I can’t even imagine it getting worse.. And everytime, it IS actually worse!
    Man, if I weren’t broke all the time myself, I’d donate. As soon as I have some money, I’ll probably donate.

  37. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Laafje, you are like Amelie from “Fear and trembling” …she always thought things could not get worse, but they did
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318725/
    Az, you really should see that movie. It’s about a jealous supervisor!!!

  38. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Laafje, you are like Amelie from “Fear and trembling” …she always thought things could not get worse, but they did
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318725/
    Az, you really should see that movie. It’s about a jealous supervisor!!!

  39. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    And by the way, thanks to that project, it sounds like you can list one of your duties as “managing a web sales project” on your resume!
    Although if you didn’t like doing it maybe it’s not best to advertise that.

  40. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    And by the way, thanks to that project, it sounds like you can list one of your duties as “managing a web sales project” on your resume!
    Although if you didn’t like doing it maybe it’s not best to advertise that.

  41. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Az, come back to the U.S.! Now that Obama is President, hope is once again rearing its glorious head. Perhaps he’ll be able to fix the economy. Perhaps he’ll be able to get the rest of the world to like us again!!! People will call you by your name here, and not “Billy.” Everyone who sees your wife will give you a behind-her-back thumbs up and “She’s all right, man,” look! You’ll be able to find a job here translating Japanese! If nothing else, you can translate for the government, right? They always need good translators. Or, if you submit your story to “Extreme Home Makeover,” they might take pity on you for all the extreme sh** you had to put up with, and build you and your wife a new house… Anything is possible, now that Obama is president! CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!

  42. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Az, come back to the U.S.! Now that Obama is President, hope is once again rearing its glorious head. Perhaps he’ll be able to fix the economy. Perhaps he’ll be able to get the rest of the world to like us again!!! People will call you by your name here, and not “Billy.” Everyone who sees your wife will give you a behind-her-back thumbs up and “She’s all right, man,” look! You’ll be able to find a job here translating Japanese! If nothing else, you can translate for the government, right? They always need good translators. Or, if you submit your story to “Extreme Home Makeover,” they might take pity on you for all the extreme sh** you had to put up with, and build you and your wife a new house… Anything is possible, now that Obama is president! CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!

  43. Adamantyr said, on November 7, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Oh man, so hot older Boss Cindy’s the bitch supervisor? That’s a disappointment…
    Well, you ARE married now, and you were in a relationship before you even met her, so it’s just one workplace fantasy down the drain. I’d guess that her bitch factor has gotten high enough to override your libido at this point… possibly.
    By the sound of things here, I think there’s two things you can conclude:
    – This is a company that is going to fail, sooner or later, due to horrid Dilbertesque management. There is NOTHING you could have done differently to change things, and you did nothing to warrant this treatment.
    – At some point, you probably did something that offended your supervisor. I think the president just believes anything his supervisors tell him. He’s a clueless useless nitwit, but under a good supervisor you could work around him.
    I’d guess that getting the outsourced translators removed, while a good move for the company and a sound decision, was seen as a threat by your supervisor. A lot of companies have that invisible totem pole, and it sounds like you vaulted up enough to be considered a problem. Maybe your supervisor was suffering from the same indirect jabs you experienced so the shit just trickled down.
    At one place I worked at, which had mostly women, I was once called in to the supervisor’s office because someone had seen me “brandish” a knife in a “threatening manner”. I had opened my paycheck with a jack-knife that was so dull it could hardly do the task. I couldn’t believe they thought it was anything, (my supervisor didn’t, but she was obligated to call the meeting) so I just played ‘shocked dumb guy’ and got out of it without too much trouble.
    Since then, though, I’ve been more aware of how perception can really screw you in the workplace. Sounds like you’ve had a similar experience.

  44. Joe said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I think I would quit as soon as possible if I ever had a supervisor who obviously hated me :/ Something gives me the feeling that she was behind your problems (and the change in the president’s attitude).

  45. Kev said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Wow maybe the superviser had a hard crush on you and was heartbroken when she found out you were getting married or found a girlfriend. Or maybe it was something at the work party where you over drank and said something to her you shouldn’t have. I can’t imagine how a good co-worker can become such an evil bitch in matter of months.
    But hey I wish you the best, and hope everything is going well these days.

  46. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Seriously… god only knows how you didn’t just snap on them and snap them in half. I would have run a muck in there. when you say God hates you i don’t think that. it’s more like he loves you because he prevented you from blowing up the damn place. god knows i would have b!tch slapped the pres and supervisor…

  47. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Seriously… god only knows how you didn’t just snap on them and snap them in half. I would have run a muck in there. when you say God hates you i don’t think that. it’s more like he loves you because he prevented you from blowing up the damn place. god knows i would have b!tch slapped the pres and supervisor…

  48. Onyx said, on November 7, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Wow, awesome read man. I can so relate to this. Ur supervisor definitely was sexually frustrated. I had to do a 3 month project with a coworker who for so unknown has despised me from day 1. Not to mention she is in really tight with the head partner in the company, so i knew it was going to be hell.
    Every chance she got to talk down to me she did it gladly and being that she is 5 years younger than me and NOT a supervisor of any sort it was peaking my rage meter.
    3 weeks into the project, i had to ask her outside after she gave me attitude in front of everyone and really tell her what i thought of her and that we cannot continue working with each other under such conditions.
    After wards all was decent.. Unfortunately for you she was ur supervisor, in the Japanese workforce so u just kinda had to suck it up.. Dude, ur a soldier!

  49. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    this story reminds me of a movie I saw once called Fear and Trembling, it’s a really good movie about a french girl working in a japanese company, with a bitch supervisor, you might enjoy it Az and eveyone else.

  50. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    this story reminds me of a movie I saw once called Fear and Trembling, it’s a really good movie about a french girl working in a japanese company, with a bitch supervisor, you might enjoy it Az and eveyone else.

  51. John U. said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    You know, a lot of people are talking about how bad the job is, but so far, it just sounds like a ROUGH job at best. The kind of job that we’ll all have several of throughout our lifetimes.
    I see some serious fuckin’ storm clouds brewing on the horizons of this story.

  52. Jazzorion said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Your former supervisor sounds just like an insecure tiny dog, it’s afraid of the bigger ones so it acts out in aggression in order to keep them away and protect itself… you should’ve kicked it. Once again, I applaud you for being able to put up with it for that long.

  53. SATAC said, on November 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    You’re a stronger man than I. Probably a good thing you don’t have a firearm, cuz if it were me, the equation would be “overwhelming job bs + my .45 – jail time = worth it.” Keep ya head up, I’m glad you’re out of the crap situation, life’s worth to much to deal with this Mt. Everest of bs.

  54. netta said, on November 7, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    dear jesus how much worse can it get? D:

  55. haafu said, on November 7, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Az,
    I think its admirable that you were able to endure such a long time at such a horrible job. But instead of packing all your bags and returning to the U.S. have you considered looking into a career as a freelance translator? I imagine your Japanese if proficient enough since you’ve lived in Japan for over 3 years now. There are many translation agencies that will send you work after completing one of their translation tests that they can send you. I think that would be best for you – you can be your own boss, work as you like, and dedicate your free time to writing.

  56. Hilary said, on November 8, 2008 at 1:16 am

    So this has nothing to do with your topic, but I found this on a website today, it probably won’t even shock you but I thought it was hilarious;
    “TOKYO (Reuters) – A male Japanese air force major caught naked while shopping for women’s underwear has been suspended from his duties for 10 days, a spokeswoman at his base said on Friday.
    The man, on his way home from a late-night farewell party for a colleague in early September, stripped off his clothes behind a convenience store before going in and buying panties and pantyhose.
    “He had just his wallet and his shoes on him,” said the spokeswoman from the Matsushima air base in Miyagi, northern Japan.
    “He thought it would be funny if he went into the store stark naked, that it would surprise people.”
    There was no one else in the store but the store clerk, who called the police shortly after the man left the store. Papers were filed against him on suspicion of indecent exposure.
    The incident follows a series of scandals for Japan’s military. The air force’s top general was sacked last week for saying Japan was not an aggressor in World War Two, angering China and South Korea where bitter memories remain over Tokyo’s past military aggression.”
    I like how they add that last part in, what does that have to do with a guy into a store naked.

  57. Specter said, on November 8, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Hi! First time poster, long time reader. My names Manny and Im from Lawrence, Ma. I hope you Gaijin smashed that bitch…in the face, she probably hated you because your black or gaijin or American or all three. What ever the case, what a cunt. Fuck that bitch man. You gotta brush that dirt off your shoulders. Stay sexy, you know I will.

  58. Blues said, on November 8, 2008 at 3:31 am

    So she was the older beer and beef lady… I just outline a porno where you ask her whats wrong and find out that she wanted to screw you and is venting(then you proceed to do it).
    But seriously, maybe you could have sent her an email for a one on one chat and brought up how you got along so well, like at the beer party that left you ill. And try to figure out why she’s gunning for you.

  59. Ian Suttle said, on November 8, 2008 at 6:58 am

    So, who would you say is worse now – your former supervisor or your former girlfriend?

  60. DK said, on November 8, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Oh, god… I wanna strangle some random Japanese CEO right about now…

  61. Nick said, on November 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I’m just wondering, where were the Gaijin Superpowers ™ in all of this? Granted I only worked in Japan for three months, but I would get away with all sorts of stuff, misunderstandings real or invented, etc., just by virtue of being a foreigner. But alas, maybe that starts to where off over time…

  62. Keyne said, on November 8, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Az, geez, I couldn’t honestly believe you said your job was awful, but reading this I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. Not to mention the “the worse was yet to come…” at the end of every single article is so foreboding! I’m so sorry you had to go through this sort of thing!

  63. raye said, on November 8, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Hey Az
    Sorry to hear that all this happened to you. Just another victim of office politics from a supervisor who felt threatened and insecure. Anyways, I was surpised to hear that it was the beer and beef lady though…well not really, seeing that you said that she was still single and was eyeing you for a while.

  64. john said, on November 8, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Been reading since the middle of outpost 9. First time poster…
    The communication issues are interesting. What kind of management ignores progress reports, and employee complaints? Is the business really large enough to suffer that kind of incompetence? Maybe they expect you to understand immediately to coordinate the project using resources from other divisions, but it is their fault.
    With your supervisor’s hostility you can record conversations/emails and if you think it is enough bring it up with the level above, but that may not work in any case.
    Anyway, I say every experience that you can learn from is a good one. You made it out with good health so think of that as a positive thing!
    P.S. I laughed when the president replied with, “…but you still made mistakes.” Hopefully terrible management will bring them down.

  65. Icehawk said, on November 9, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Holy crap Az, you must be some kind of saint to have been able to put up with all this crap. If I were in your situation I probably would have already heard the pop, saw the flash of red, turned on the Static-X and pulled out the shovel. I must truly applaud you for not leaving a path of red mist and bone chips in your wake as you exited the office.
    As a long-time reader, I hope things are looking up for you.

  66. TJ said, on November 9, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Holy crap Az, I’m sorry but I have to mention this. Go back and reread the last sentence of each of your “Sour Apples” postings. For FIVE chapters now you’ve ended with the same kind of dire warning about how things would become even worse in the next chapter, and it’s getting quite old. Not to mention that the last sentences of Parts 2 and 5 are practically the same sentence! Seriously, if you’re thinking about becoming a writer as a profession, you’re going to need to put a bit more variety in your writing.

  67. Marecki said, on November 9, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Hmm. Is it just me or does it look like that supervisor of yours got pissed off because you didn’t put the moves on her?

  68. Cassandra said, on November 9, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Maybe the beer and beef supervisor is trying to make you feel miserable because you got married and she’s trying to get your attention.
    Maybe it can lead to hot angry sex.

  69. Tkyosam said, on November 10, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Hey Az, I have been a long time reader of your site, but this is the first time I am posting anything and just wanted to say your site has really helped me out a lot, not just learning about funny aspects about Japan (currently living in 千葉市) but just the way you write your stories makes me happy to read each one.
    All of us have probably had shitty jobs in the past, but I gotta say your story is making me appreciate my job more and more with each part released.
    Check out my youtube channel, I would love to hear some feedback from you sometime .
    -Sam

  70. Tanaka Taro said, on November 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Going to have to chime in with the chorus here. “Hell hath no fury like woman scorned.” I think your supe was expecting an Az booty call.

  71. Cynthia said, on November 11, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Maybe I don’t understand the scope of your work, but wouldn’t it have made sense to get the help of the computer programmer, web design guy and the data team right from the get go? That would have saved you time from learning everything from scratch. Then instead of you working for hours just trying to learn how to do something, you could get the people who already have the skills to whip up a template Excel file or HTML page and add the content yourself. I guess it doesn’t really matter now since it’s in the past, and this company sounds fucked anyway.

  72. Chris said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    You sound like Harry Potter. Your Super is Snape.
    Lulz


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