Gaijin Smash

Sour Apples – Part VIII

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on November 13, 2008

I’d finally hit my breaking point and quit my job. I had no new job lined up and with a wedding sucking on my finances, no money saved either. Needless to say, it was far from an ideal situation. But I was at my mental and emotional limit, so it was something that had to be done. Amazingly enough, merely quitting would not mark the end of my problems with this company.
Sometime in the middle of August, a week or two after I’d originally turned in my notice of resignation, the president handed out two papers. One was sort of a “promise to the company” where we’d sign this form promising to be good little workers and work hard or whatever. Another was a proof of identity – this one was tricky, because we had to have two co-signers sign for us. I believe I’ve mentioned before that co-signing in Japan is a pretty big deal. For most Gaijin, if we need a Japanese co-signer, we turn to our work colleagues, who’d spend a good amount of time soul-searching and consulting with the Lost Gods of Mt. Fuji before giving us an answer (which isn’t always yes!). If its work asking for co-signers…well…that creates a bit of a problem doesn’t it?
Since I was quitting the company, I figured these documents didn’t apply to me. I stuffed them in my desk drawer and didn’t give them much thought. However, in my last meeting with the president, a day or two before my last day, he told me to be sure to turn the papers in – “or else you might not get paid.” Nothing about that seemed right to me, but I took the papers out of my drawer and stuffed them in my bag anyway.


My last day of work was somewhat uneventful. About half of the company – including the president and the supervisor – were away on a company trip. I actually preferred it this way. The remaining staff did give me a proper send-off though, which I was very happy for. Officially, to explain why I was quitting, I cited my wedding ceremony in September and that I wouldn’t be able to work properly. Most people though, knew that this was a pretty lie. “What’s your real reason for quitting?” One Japanese lady asked. With the president and supervisor gone, I could have laid it all out on the table, but I just didn’t feel like doing that. I simply just wanted to quit and be done with it. “Saa…” I said, which is the Japanese way of saying “Well, I don’t really want to go into detail about that.” Even if I didn’t explain my woes, most of them had seen the supervisor’s treatment of me in person, or heard about other incidents through the gossip mill. Besides, most of them had their own personal gripes with the company as well. So, they understood.
I can tell you, not having to go into work the following Monday was a wonderful feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time. I did miss my Train Crew though.
I wasn’t completely done with the company yet though. There was still the two documents the president had handed out. I thought I’d make an attempt to at least turn them in, so I went to my mother-in-law. She read over the documents, but caught something she didn’t like. She told me that if I signed these papers, got the co-signers, and turned them in, it would give the company the power to hold me liable for anything for the next 5 years. I quit in August, but let’s say the computer I used broke down in December, or hell, even 2 years from now. Legally, the company could say that the computer breaking down was a result of things I did to it, and hold me responsible to pay for a new one. My mother-in-law knew about my woes with this company, and she just didn’t trust them. “You don’t even work there anymore!” she exclaimed. She told me that she wasn’t going to sign, and that I should just forget about it.
I didn’t exactly trust the company either. So I took her advice and simply forgot about the papers. However, maybe a week or so later I got an email from the company reminding me to turn the papers in. They said that even though I quit, I was an employee when the papers were handed out, therefore they applied to me as well. Though the person who sent the email wasn’t the president, at the end of the email he included a message from the president. This message more or less said that this was something the parent company had decided, and as such, people who failed to turn the papers in would have their paychecks withheld.
I asked my mother-in-law about this latest development, and she suggested I talk with the Labor Bureau, which I did. The counselor I talked to said that the papers themselves weren’t at all uncommon. Perhaps not a norm anymore, but not uncommon. What was weird, was the timing – usually, these papers are handed out when people first join the company. None of us had done this paperwork, so okay, maybe its something he’s starting late and wanted to retroactively get the current staff on as well. And it was very strange to be demanding these papers from someone who no longer worked there. The counselor said that turning in the papers was ultimately my decision, but withholding paychecks for any reason was illegal. He even made a copy of the page in the law book where it states that withholding of paychecks is not allowed. He advised me to reply to the email I’d gotten and say that I wasn’t turning the papers in by my choice, but as withholding a paycheck is illegal, please pay me on the proper pay date. He said that if I didn’t get my paycheck, to take it to the Central Labor Bureau in Osaka. So I did exactly that – I wrote an email saying I wasn’t turning in the papers because I no longer worked there, withholding paychecks is illegal so please pay me, and if I didn’t get paid I would take the matter to the Central Labor Bureau. I even scanned and sent the copy of the law book page the counselor had given me. I sent this email, but got no response to it.
The only thing to do now was to wait to see if I actually got paid or not. Given everything that had happened with this company, and the president’s attitude, I fully expected not to. I hoped, however, that he would prove me wrong.
If I may, allow me to present a short timeline. My parents arrived in Japan on a Thursday afternoon. The following Friday, I woke up early and checked my bank account, as it was payday. It was empty – as I’d expected, I did not get my paycheck. The next day, Saturday, was my wedding ceremony.
I was angry – of course, not getting paid for the work you’d done is a maddening thing – but more than that, the president knew about this. He knew what day my parents were coming and he knew the day of my wedding ceremony. Despite that, he did it anyway. I can only assume that this was an intentional malicious act – is there any other way to see it?
I was angry, but I had to put that behind me. My parents had come to Japan for the first time ever, and I was about to get married. But once the dust settled, it would be time to fight. And fight I would.
…Bet you were expecting me to end the entry here, huh? Not this time!
The day after my parents left Japan, I went to the Central Labor Bureau. Although I had to go through a couple of bonehead counselors, the lady who was eventually assigned to my case was very nice and also seemed shocked/outraged at the series of events at the company. She arranged to go down there personally to have a talk with the president. He seemed to be avoiding her to some extent – the meeting got rescheduled twice – but she did make it out there. She asked if anyone else had gotten their salaries withheld, and he admitted that it was only me. She asked the reason why, and he had said “kekkyoku kanjouteki” – “ultimately, emotional.” She then pointed out that withholding salaries is illegal, to which he reportedly replied “Oh, is that so?” With the law against him, he was forced to pay me, which he did one month after the scheduled pay date.
As the lady explained the meeting to me, she also said, “right as we were finishing up, the president asked me to ask you if you would still turn in those papers.” I almost laughed over the phone. “No, I don’t think so.” “Right. I’m just conveying the message,” she says. I could hear the incredulity in her voice, as if she were almost embarrassed to ask such a thing. To date, I don’t know why getting those papers was so important to him, especially from an employee who’d quit.
I’d also asked about my cut salary, but apparently it is legal to cut someone’s salary – to a point. Unfortunately, there was nothing further I could do about that, and my final paycheck was still under the cut wages. My case advisor seemed apologetic about that, but was very happy that I was getting my pay. She was a nice lady and helped me tremendously.
At the same time, I’d also phoned the consultation department of the parent company. Since the president liked to blame them so much, I just thought I’d “confirm” all the things he’d put on their shoulders. I asked about my cut salary and my paycheck being withheld, and told them that he’d said that this was their call. They promised to look into it, and a representative did talk to the president at some point. A few weeks later, they contacted me to report the results of their findings – the president was forced to admit that the pay cut and the withholding of the paycheck were all 100% his doing. Apparently, though I’m not familiar with the details, the president also got a stiff talking-down to from one of the representatives at the parent company. That was all I wanted to accomplish – to catch him in the lies and for someone in a position of power to give him a talking-to, although I doubt the message got through.
And with that, finally, I was done with this company.
***
Sour Apples – Aftermath
It’s been two and half months since I quit my job. I’m still unemployed – I’ve been looking for work but the pickings are still slim. I’ve been to a few interviews even but didn’t get them. I also went to Tokyo for job interviews, but those didn’t pan out either. The job market should start getting better in the next month, so I’m hoping to find something soon.
If the president was trying to screw me over with the timing of the pay cut and withholding my paycheck, he royally succeeded. The pay cut threw off my calculations for saving for the wedding. As a result, I had to use up most of my August check for the wedding, which meant that I couldn’t pay bills. And then I didn’t get my September check, which left those bills unpaid – I only had about $15 dollars in my bank account, and this was with my wedding taking place and my parents in Japan. Finally getting the check in October, as well as donations I received from Gaijin Smash (thank you very much!) let me at least catch up with August and September, but I’m still two months behind on most bills.
When I quit, I had planned to do outsource translation for the company – I was familiar with the work and while the pay was low compared to the standard, at least it was something. However, after getting my paycheck withheld, I lost any and all desire to do that – I didn’t want to help them out in any way, especially considering that their pay rates are so low (the existing outsource staff under my tenure also realized it was a low pay rate, and I had to sort of lower my head and apologize and blame management. The president wanted to cut it even further!).
Given the situation, the smart thing to do would have been to either keep working the job, or cancel the wedding. The job was making me miserable everyday, and canceling the wedding…I can’t imagine trying to look my wife in the eye and saying “you know that wedding you’ve been looking forward to all year? Yeah, we can’t do that now.” So, this is just one of life’s tough spots, but I’m no stranger to that and I’ll get through it somehow.
I still keep up with many of my former co-workers. As I’ve said before, they’re all good people. A-san found another job with a company in a similar field. She tried to get me a job there but things just didn’t work out. The former computer programmer is still unemployed as well, but he admits that he hasn’t been looking. He has money saved up, so he’s just taking it easy for the moment and is considering taking a trip somewhere. Curly and Ms. Shocker are also doing okay, though both also are looking for their way out. Curly hasn’t been subjected to any bad treatment, yet, but really dislikes what has happened to everyone else, and can’t help but to wonder when it will be his turn. Ms. Shocker actually wrote an email to the president in which she tried to tell him that she felt that people were being treated unfairly. He called her out for a private talk and, from what I understand, basically just called her names. Apparently, he said that if people had problems with him, they were best to just keep their mouths shut about that. The next time I saw Ms. Shocker, she had all sorts of colorful adjectives for him, including “that fucking asshole bastard.”
Both Curly and Ms. Shocker said that I’d changed since leaving the company – I seemed to be much more happier and stress-free overall.
As for the company, 2-3 more people have quit since I left. Doris quit a few weeks before I did, primarily to go back to China but not without her own gripes with the company. One Japanese girl, a relatively new hire, was outraged at the idea of withholding paychecks, and quit. Those who haven’t quit are quietly plotting their escape. Apparently, there have been a lot of new hires in the past few months. There are three new computer programmers to replace the old one. Three! We all couldn’t help but to wonder “why couldn’t you have done that sooner to help out the first guy?!” Just taking a quick mental survey, aside from the president, the supervisor, and Small Wonder, I can’t think of anyone else working there who’d been there when I first joined the company a little less than 2 years ago.
All in all, it was an experience. Not entirely a pleasant one, but I learned a lot. Hopefully I can take everything I learned and put it to good use somewhere down the line.
And now, finally, I can put this story to bed.
————————————————————————————
Thank you for your continued support and donations! It is very much appreciated and of a tremendous help to me!
For donations, please paypal to azrael@outpostnine.com. There is also a direct link on the Outpost Nine homepage.

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125 Responses

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  1. Gino said, on November 13, 2008 at 3:57 am

    and now on to the next misadventure episode of the caped gaijin crusader, Captain Azrael! Passively aggressive against japanese corperate assholes; wooing the hearts of innocent minded women; neither confirming nor denying the size of his chocolate manhood; and kancho avenger for every gaijin teacher who was violated by the 2 finger joust of sexually misguided boys and girls!

    we still want wedding pictures you know?
    (Az’s Note: I just got them back this week. They will come soon.)

  2. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:06 am

    FIRST!

  3. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:06 am

    FIRST!

  4. Katie A said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:12 am

    I guess there are some times in life where you just really have to believe in karma. If kancho is the appropriate response to coming face-to-face with underage boobie, then this guy is about to get seriously violated.
    Glad you’re out of that situation, even if it’s tough.

  5. MD said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:31 am

    お疲れ!v

  6. mike said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Im really glad you got your money dude! Hang in there, I’m sure youll find a job soon

  7. Asmodean said, on November 13, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Interesting story. Glad to hear all the details. I have read your last 10 postings in a big block just now and was annoyed that you weren’t going to tell this story even though people had paid a bit (I didn’t so I guess I am a free loader).
    Great surprise to see that you posted it though. Shitty treatment and I am sure with hindsight you must realize all the things you could have/should have done in those situations. Better luck next time, and although its mean I think I am secretly hoping that things get bad again for you so there can be more stories.
    Thanks for helping me procrastinate but I have to finish my study for my Japanese speaking exam in 12 hours. Way to ruin my motivation az…

  8. Marcus said, on November 13, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Amazing story, Az, as usual. Gambatte!

  9. Wakka said, on November 13, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Try to get a book deal, start your own project or even a translation company. Hard to do with no money in the bank, but not impossible. Layout a nice business plan and start talking to people in venture capital companies. May be worth the hassle.

  10. Nii said, on November 13, 2008 at 5:37 am

    …And the epic Az saga is over. Does it feel better now that you got it of your chest? Or was it a chore?

  11. Mike said, on November 13, 2008 at 5:59 am

    This is a very common situation in Japan, that is having to quit, but Ive never encountered anything like the signing of obigatory paperwork. Being a gaijin, its understood your meant to be exploited, and then leave. As far as being unemployed, that sucks, but cant you teach English? Im telling you dude, the pickings are slim over here, you better get all the skills you can get and while your getting them, you better work where you can. I got a feeling your being picky. This aint the states dude. Im good with trades, so that skill is always in demand because most japanese arent worth a shit at it or dont want to do it.

  12. Mike said, on November 13, 2008 at 6:04 am

    I got to add one more thing dude, and youll probally not even post it but I dont care. Being a black dude over here can be tough. I think if I was black this would be the last country I every would want to live in. Allot of these people that post here are all nice and fuzzy, but they dont know whats up over here. Its tough enough being a white dude, man I can only imagine being black. dude you better find your niche and study up, otherwise your dumbass will be another cotton picker here in the land of Japan. Yeah, you read right. Lots of them doing that shit, making carpets or picking vegetables (chinese and pakistani). Visit your local Hello work. They can hook you up real fast.

  13. Kalle said, on November 13, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Thanks for sharing, Az. I’ve read every posting as you’ve posted them, and as many others have already said, your talent astounds me as usual. Keep writing. Once I have a career and an income, I’ll make retroactive donations, promise! ;P

  14. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 6:53 am

    I dunno if it was your writing or the subject matter, but that was actually a very interesting story.

  15. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 6:53 am

    I dunno if it was your writing or the subject matter, but that was actually a very interesting story.

  16. Mayhem said, on November 13, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Every end has a beginning. Every beginning has an end. Good luck for the future Az! I’m expecting typing all that our now may be strangely cathartic…

  17. Stan said, on November 13, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Seriously, Az – go to the library, pick up a book on writing a non-fiction book proposal, take the time you have now on your plate to write it up, and then send it out. You have no excuse. And your savior – you! – is right under your nose. All you need is 1/2 hour to an hour a day. Make it your number one priority: First Things First: that is to say, after breakfast put butt in chair and work on proposal for 1/2 to 1 hour like it’s your religion.
    Scanning the want ads, etc. can be your project for the remainder of the afternoon. In other words, you should proceed on two parallel tracks: one short term (job search) and the other longer term (writing).
    I know it’s scary to actually start doing what you say you want to do. By doing so you have to face the possibility of failure and the often equally scary possibility of success. (The folks who crack like nuts after they get exactly what they want are legion.) But that’s what living is: taking the chance. It’s scary, but once you accept that it’s going to be hard/scary then you can just shrug your shoulders and
    Put. Butt. In. Chair.
    Good luck, Captain!

  18. Drew said, on November 13, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Great story. I laughed, I cried, I loved. Now, we must all hear about how your parents faired on their first time in Japan! Culture shock and misadventure galore, we hope!

  19. tone said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Stands on desk: Oh Captain, my captain!
    ..you do realize that you have to tell us about your folk’s visit now, right?
    I mean, Japan is expensive and you were relatively broke. How did you entertain them? Whore yourself out to 1000 fat chicks on the side? How did you manage to protect them from being the new gaijin freakshow? How did you protect them FROM the local freakshow? Did the parents meet? Did anyone violate the circle of trust/flush a cat down a toilet/ burn down a gazeebo? Did they bring you new pants and lifetime supply of heir-blocking American-sized condom? Did they skimp on the condoms and demand you to make them grandparents ASAP?
    We already all up in ya business anyway, why not tell us more?

  20. April said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Hi Az,All these years reading your “adventures” this one is certainly something I would have never wished on you. I’m glad you’re out of that place though. I wish you all the luck. I know it’s hard being newly married and unemployed. Hang in there. Good days are ahead.
    Oh and you’re still young, so please start doing all those things you said you’d do..like..writing professionally..while you are between jobs! Live, Learn and make Mistakes while you’re young.
    Hugs and best wishes to you and your family,
    April(New Orleans)

  21. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Wow! I think the word count on that epic exceeds the rest of your output for the past year. That’s the Az I’ve been missing!
    Thanks for sharing, good luck with your continuing adventures, and please, please keep writing.

  22. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Wow! I think the word count on that epic exceeds the rest of your output for the past year. That’s the Az I’ve been missing!
    Thanks for sharing, good luck with your continuing adventures, and please, please keep writing.

  23. billy d williams said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:01 am

    You need to gtf outta Japan, bro. I’m telling you. I’ve just gone through your entire archives in the last 2 days and you seem to be getting progressivly more negative and seemingly unhappy. I realize this job was part of the problem, but from my point of view I think you should take your new bride to the States for a little bit. Work with a company on the US side that deals with Japan a lot, you could be a nice intermediary or translator or something. I mean you have a pretty nice skill set being fluent in both languages and all.
    You seemed to be mulling it over anyway, brining the mrs. to the United States. I realize you wouldn’t have as much to blog about (unless you worked with a company that dealt primarily with Nippon) but still man, if things are as bad as you’ve been making it appear mayhaps it’s time to consider a drastic shift in the paradigm?
    Remember, you’ve got the touch. You’ve got the power. Hell, even after this is all said and done? I’d say you never walked. You’ve never run. You’re a winner.

  24. Mike said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Wow…just, wow…
    I’ve been reading this with great interest since the start. I imagine your site has been getting tons of hits from it too! Simply great writing and a really engaging tale of hardship. I really, really hope that that company turns out to be the exception to the rule and you find your feet again soon.
    Could I just ask one thing? What is the ‘Central Labour Bureau’ in Japanese? I figure it will come in handy when I get back out there myself. Thanks again!

  25. Steve said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Seriously, look into writing professionally. Like a blog for a magazine’s website, or just writing for magazines in general. You have a way of grabbing and holding people’s attention and being hilarious at the same time. You should really consider printing out a bunch of the posts on this blog and setting up interviews with magazines and newspapers and shit. I think you could have a career in writing.

  26. Ivan the Terrible said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Glad to see the paycheck incident resolved itself in the interim, without the need for a prolonged struggle. Adios, crappy old boss and crappy old company! Hello, freedom-heavily-circumscribed-by-not-having-any-food-or-rent-money! The trade-offs we all sometimes have to make to fight incompetent jackbooted fascist thug-bastards disguised as employers…
    I’m nearly broke myself, so I can’t send much, but I’m going to see if I can scrounge up a little bit to toss in the hat. On behalf of us all, the donors have wrung this epic tale of corruption, incompetence, and existential despair (?) from you, and I don’t want to be riding on their backs for the next epic.

  27. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I was thinking…. are there any military bases near you? If so, I know the one I am stationed on is always in need of Japanese/English translators. The benefits are good and being an American might actually *gasp* you get a job in this case! It sounds like they are always busy but it sounds like you’re no stranger to hard work. Maybe you should check it out!

  28. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I was thinking…. are there any military bases near you? If so, I know the one I am stationed on is always in need of Japanese/English translators. The benefits are good and being an American might actually *gasp* you get a job in this case! It sounds like they are always busy but it sounds like you’re no stranger to hard work. Maybe you should check it out!

  29. Stan said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Those are classy comments about cotton-picking, Mike.
    I think Az is doing just fine in Japan even with the current financial strains. You know why? Because Japan gave birth to his very unique writing style and subject matter which could carry him deep into a very satisfying writing life. It also gave birth to his relationship with the woman who became his wife.
    All in all that sounds pretty sweet to me.

  30. AutumnFire said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:57 am

    It was so sweet of you to go ahead and make your wife’s dream of her wedding day come true even though you were in a horrible predicament. I truly hope that the happiness in her eyes on your glorious day made putting up with all the other crap worthwhile. I bet you’re her Knight in Shining Armor.

  31. code monkey said, on November 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

    a similar exodus occurs at my former company (just recently quit because another company overseas gave me an offer). anyway, good luck on the new chapter of your life.

  32. Willow said, on November 13, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Hi Az.
    As usual your writing is enjoyable to read, no matter the subject. You painted a delightfully painful and cruel image of your old company’s management. So, to repeat my past posts: thank you for this good /long read.
    And to second Stan (last post I’ve read): you’ve talked about it, now you actually have the time to work on it. Everyone reading you will agree that you DO have real writing skills. I’m not qualified to say if you have what it takes to write the next NY Times Best seller, but I sure hope you’ll give it a try.
    Keep your spirits up, you are on the right track, you just need to start the engine and get things rolling.

  33. Bahumaut said, on November 13, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I was thinking the only reason they wanted for you to sign that paperwork was because if the project that you had worked on ever had problems in the future, then they could point directly to you saying that it was something that you had done that was the problem. I figure that you knew that already, but sometimes my mind works like an evil person and nice people just shouldn’t have to think that way.

  34. Tara said, on November 13, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Az,
    Thank you for making the effort to share this story with us. I hope that the people who enjoyed it and didn’t donate anything will find it in their hearts (and wallets) to make a donation after hearing this story.
    Happy baby making.

  35. Dominik said, on November 13, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t know about the interview standards in Japan, but usually in the US and Europe there is some point in the interview process where you can ask things about the company. Usually this is some short rethoric question at the end of the interview process, where the recruiter thinks that anyone comes up with a made-up question.
    This is the ideal chance to ask a very important question: “What is the fluctuation-rate” of this company?
    It says so much about the company, the atmosphere at the workplace, how dynamic or new the company is etc.
    Also you can guess from the reaction: Either it’s really not a matter at all and really know one knows the figures and even the recruiter doesn’t know exactly.
    But if there is a problem with this, usually you can spot immediatley because of the reaction…

  36. Gman said, on November 13, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Sort of a good ending kinda pissed off he made off with your paycut for no reason. I hope the Jackhole gets ruined.
    Good stuff though hope you get a job (and hope i get one also)

  37. Vidgmchtr said, on November 13, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    For some reason, I can picture you saying “Aww yeah. Gaijin SMASH.” when you learned of the higher-ups giving the boss a talking to, with hard rock music starting to play in the background and cutting to end credits.
    Please tell me that happened. 😀

  38. Joe said, on November 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I missed commenting on the previous entry, but how do you deal with all that politeness stuff, anyhow? I mean, to figure out if anta or anata is less polite than omae or temae or kimi. Is there like a hierarchy somewhere? Because most of the answers I see are “it depends” which as you know, doesn’t help at all. Hell, even Japanese people like to do a cop-out and go for [name]-san half the time, it seems. At least -san appears pretty safe, unless you’re supposed to use -sama…
    Or do you have to puzzle them all out by getting yelled at a few times?

  39. Andrea said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Az,
    seriously, you need to collect your blog entries, and publish them as a book. Look at Wil Wheaton – he did it, and now he’s a professional writer. There is a market out there – we, your faithful readers! I know I would buy your book. And I would recommend it and give it as Christmas presents to people I know who enjoy reading. Well written, funny, poignant autobiographical stuff like this, about an every-day-dude in a bizarre situation is wonderful stuff. Even though our circumstances are different, and even though I’m a tiny white girl in Texas (rather than a large black man in Japan), I feel like you and I have something in common, simply because the way you write is so personable. There’s a real quality to your blog entries, that I just know would translate well into book form. Please don’t feel uncertain about your talent, because it’s real, and it’s GOOD! You have a real knack for story-telling, and you should profit from it by publishing! You’ve already done all the groundwork. Simply go through your stuff, and pick the most interesting blogs, clean them up a little bit, and between bits here and there, put in a little bit of new text, explaining stuff, or reminiscing, etc. I can see the title now:
    “Gaijin Smash: An African American’s adventures in Japan.” Or something even better that you’d think up… 🙂 YOU CAN DO IT, AZ! PLEASE DO IT, AZ! (And seriously, look up Wil Wheaton – I love his stuff, and it’s not even quite as interesting as yours!!!)

  40. Polaryzed said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    HOORAY for Az! Glad its over. Great story, incredibly common theme. I think most of the over-21 working people out there who aren’t named Lindsey Lohan (rehab is different ya’know!) have a similar experience in their lives at some point. Glad that you got out of it and it is all over with. Good luck finding a new job.

  41. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Cool stories, bro.
    Honestly I think I’m reading too much manga. Somewhere along the story I was expecting Ms. Americanized and a bunch of Kancho assassins to appear and rescue you and whip that president’s ass into shape, regardless of how amazingly unrealistic that is.
    Have you heard of ms. americanized btw? she was my favorite for a looong time since I began reading “My kids are perverted”.

  42. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Cool stories, bro.
    Honestly I think I’m reading too much manga. Somewhere along the story I was expecting Ms. Americanized and a bunch of Kancho assassins to appear and rescue you and whip that president’s ass into shape, regardless of how amazingly unrealistic that is.
    Have you heard of ms. americanized btw? she was my favorite for a looong time since I began reading “My kids are perverted”.

  43. Annonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing though I’m sure re-telling this story is bound to have brought back some nasty memories and feelings. Been following your site for ages (first time posting) and have always looked forward to reading your entries and updates. Seeing the shit that you’ve had to put up with, it sure does cast some light on why the updates started drying up some time back.
    I’d say you should try to cut a book deal with your compiled entries of the misadventures and musings you’ve had during your stay in Japan. Sure enough you’d get a whole lot more people sharing your opinion that you’re eventually going to hell (Snuzzlebunnies ^.^ )but I’ll be damned if you don’t get a much bigger cult following than the one you already have here. Though of course the market you should start selling that in would be back in the US (I would pay good money to see what would happen if you tried launching it in Japan).

  44. Tanaka Taro said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Glad to read your eventual triumph! Best of luck with the future, I hope you find something good very soon.
    Oh, and friendly, helpful Japanese bureaucrat lady FTW. It’s a shame sometimes when they can’t accept gifts because she sounds like someone who deserves a little something extra.

  45. Kyle E said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    First comment guy… awesome.
    I’m glad you actually got that paycheck and I love that you got the pres caught in his own lies. Even though you didn’t get the pay back from it, just knowing he got chewed out was probably an awesome feeling. Thanks for telling the story btw. You know, I’ve kinda decided to keep a “blog” like thing for my stays in japan, though I doubt mine will be as well written.

  46. Nakamura-san said, on November 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Az, after reading your entire story, I have decided to help your cause. I experienced a similar problem with an employer when I was 16, so I know exactly what you went through (without having a wedding and living on my own…that and instead of a Japanese boss, I had a hispanic boss). That being said, I plan to send a donation (won’t be much…) and I’ll keep an eye out for any job openings in Japan (I’ll search for Tokyo since I’m not sure where exactly your area is). I hope everything goes well!

  47. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Apply to the parent company. Become your former boss’ boss!

  48. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Apply to the parent company. Become your former boss’ boss!

  49. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I hope you’ll be able to find work in an environment with a sane, reasonable boss soon 🙂 It’s really sad to read about such ridiculous self-centered people in the world. I’m glad you’ve taken this experience with an optimistic outlook though!
    頑張ってください!

  50. Anonymous said, on November 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I hope you’ll be able to find work in an environment with a sane, reasonable boss soon 🙂 It’s really sad to read about such ridiculous self-centered people in the world. I’m glad you’ve taken this experience with an optimistic outlook though!
    頑張ってください!

  51. RD said, on November 13, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Hey there. Followed your sour apples story with interest. I made a similar experience in the company where I had my apprenticeship. Similar to you, we started out fairly well till the plans and pipe dreams of our CEO got out of hand. He reeled in more and more orders but didn’t employ more staff to actually do them. So we were “asked” to work overtime and weekends. And then the paychecks came later and later while we still had to do overtime. (AND while he started investing money in different projects, too!) And god help you if you were not on time starting work in the morning.
    Well, as you I opted to leave the company and as I have heard, so did most of the other staff working with me. CEOs going haywire… I’d guess that’s one of the problems that cause our actual crisises, too.
    Did you ever consider to try and start up an own little translating buisness? Offering your translation skills for a fee per document to small and middle buisinesses that can’t afford to employ their own english division but want something in english. I don’t know how that would work out over there in Japan (since it seems competition from other “freelanceers” is big), but here in Germany I know of some people who did this and are able to support themselves. The pay seems not that great but they have the advantage of working at home. I’d guess that would be nice once little Azrael or little Azraella runs around. Just an idea though.

  52. Lana said, on November 13, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Dang, it sucks that you haven’t been able to find something! Looks like you’ll have to get really creative or see if you can go back to teaching like one of the other posters mentioned.
    I’m glad you eventually received your paycheck!
    Yes, we must hear about your parents first trip to Japan!!!!! WE MUST!

  53. Patrick said, on November 13, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    It’s good to know the whole story, even if it’s a crappy one. I also think you could make some good money writing a book. Maybe two books. One is your life in Japan, and one is a kind of primer for those coming over to work or live in Japan from the States. I think both would do well.
    And if you want certain people, “dealt with” I have reasonable rates![/assassin]

  54. Morrigan said, on November 13, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Az,
    I read all your “I am a Japanese schoolteacher” stories since Outpostnine, and though I did send smaller donations before, to thank you for entertaining me all this time and to hopefully help you out, I sent you a bigger one (not bragging or anything, I’m in no financial difficulty so it’s not a big sacrifice). I hope it comes in handy, because Cthulhu knows you don’t deserve all that crap and need a break. And while the boss in your story seems like a grade-A mega asshole to *everybody*, he seemed especially worse on you. He clearly tried to exploit you even more due to your being foreign (and, he surely hoped, intimidated or ignorant of the law), and probably hoped you’d let it go and wouldn’t bother checking with the Labour Bureau. I hope he gets cancer, and that his manhood rots and gets fed to the goats!
    I can somewhat sympathize with your getting shafted of a paycheck. A few years ago, at my very first job out of school (first job ever, too), I started programming for a small telecommunications company. After a few months, though, pays were coming in late and it was obvious the company was struggling financially. A lot of people got badly ripped off in the aftermath, some far worse than me. When I finally quit, I hadn’t taken any vacation, and was supposed to have them paid to me (roughly one grand in $CAD). I never got them to this day (I left that place in September 2004). The labour bureaus sent angry letters, but the president probably showed him to his lawyer, laughed out loud and threw them to the garbage, so all the bureau could do was to shrug and say, “you’re on your own. hire a bailiff or sue him.” . I didn’t want to take this to court and didn’t need the money too badly, so I pretty much gave up, but I wonder about other co-workers, who weren’t doing so well financially (had children or cars or houses to pay, for example) and who lost even more money than me – actual paychecks that bounced. Not fun.
    What’s worse is that the T4, the tax receipt we use to do our income tax, was fraudulent and said I had only earned about $7k in the whole year, which was of course ridiculous since I had worked full-time close to nine months in that year. If I declared that amount, I would have gotten a bigger return but I knew it was false, so I had to estimate the real amount and joined a letter of explanation in my declaration, as well as some check stubs proving I had worked there for several months. I know the government had opened an investigation (some lady contacted me for more information) but I don’t really know what became of it. I can only hope that asshole got busted big time (somehow, I doubt it – we’re too soft on crooks here).
    Anyway, I hope you’ll get better soon (I second all suggestions to publish a book, you have the time to write and prepare while you’re looking for a job, though of course it’s not that easy but in your case I’d say it’s worth a try), and, like others, that you’ll keep writing about your life in Japan. Yours is one of the only blog I read pretty much religiously (RSS feeds FTW).
    Cheers and good luck with everything.

  55. Bruceifer said, on November 13, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    AZ, did you read the second to last post on Philalawyer’s blog, the one from the investment banker who got his money and walked away? If not read it, if you have then you know that sometime’s you have to get out without the “fuck you” money,but in doing so you keep your sanity,your dignity, and self-respect. You will get through this, neither you nor your new wife is ill, your wedding is done,the rest of that shit is just small potato’s. Bro, you could be so, so, so far worse off than not having a job you hate, life may have you a little down, but damn man you got out before they got over on you, that is definitly worth more than money. FUCK IT and FUCK THE COMPANY!!!
    Now, moving on! You got bills, so be it, you’re gonna have bills til the day, you die, they’ll wait or they won’t, again F@#k ’em. The rest will work itself out in time, so in the mean time, get yourself healthy (mentally and physically) and get back in the fight. Good luck in the job hunt, I hear it’s bare knuckles nasty in the job market there right now!

  56. Nikita said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I feel for you, Az! I’d love to donate to your cause but I’m behind on my bills as well. Thanks for sharing your stories and I hope you write a book soon! I’d love to read it.

  57. Kev said, on November 13, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Maybe you have enough hard evidence about the work ethics of your ex-job to coerce the parent company to give you a position in one of their subsidiaries?

  58. Kyuu said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Ya know, interestingly enough Hobby Link Japan, this rather large Japan based hobby/figure/otaku item related company is hiring…not sure where you are exactly, but if you’re close you might wanna check out the link below.
    http://www.hlj.com/hiring08.html

  59. Sean said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I just quit from my job here in China. I was working for New Oriental, a very well known private training school (listed on the NYSE for god’s sake). Well, my three bosses took it upon themselves to treat me like crap because I was “too American.” I “didn’t do things the way the Chinese people do.” So after 4 and a half months of constant berating and putdowns, I went to the President of the company and told him every little thing my bosses did. Calling me gay to my face three times in a single evening during a Marketing event (in front of chinese staff and other foreign teachers.. not to mention the fact that I’m not gay and have a Chinese girlfriend..), and how my other boss threatened to fire me three times, and told me I had no value to the company and that I was a bad teacher.
    So I told the president I lost all face and had to move on. I taught my class that night and told them the next time they’d see me is when I go to collect my benefits.
    They were shocked (and pissed off.. my bosses told the other foreign teachers in a meeting 1 hour after I quit that I said very nasty things about them to the president.. I love it!)
    Anyways, now I have no job either.. but China’s laws are a bit stricter about living here without work while on a Work visa.. hopefully we’ll both find good jobs soon! Good luck!

  60. oolas said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    dude, congrats for surviving to this day. That dickhead really deserved it. Seriously, he really deserved it.
    When you going back to America? Take time to visit your home once for a while man. Let your wife visit your country. You know, maybe if she like it she willing to live there and raise your child there.

  61. Christopher mohr said, on November 13, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Ignore Billy d Williams. If you think of going back to the US *before* you’ve been married for 2 years, know that you’re in for a “sour apples” length ordeal with USCIS (formerly the INS). Seriously, stay where you are until you pass that all-important 2 year mark, or it’ll take them a full year (and at least $1100 in paperwork and form fees) before they get their heads out of their collective asses and let her go with you. And that’s if you’re lucky.
    My wife and I went through that. I would spare you the bulls**t. If you wait until you pass the 2-year mark, she is considered an immediate relative, your forms are cut in half, and your months of processing time can be measured on two hands. Also, you have a regional USCIS office in Japan, which *might* speed it up a little bit, but it’s still going to be ridiculously slow.
    As for the donations, I sincerely wish I could, but we’re all hurting all over. Tell you what, you publish a book, even with only the archives and possibly a set of pictures from your adventures, and I’ll buy your first copy. Hell, I’d even volunteer to proofread the manuscript.

  62. Journ-O-LST-3 said, on November 13, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Talk to the U.S. Consulate about jobs there, it’s an odd process of tests but with good language skills you’d have an advantage. Note on the test: The questions include things like who was the first Secretary of State (Thomas Jefferson) so remember that the people who worked there had to go through a round of Jeopardy to get the job.

  63. Jon Helgi said, on November 14, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Thank you for this, sad turn of events but with a semi happy ending. I know you will find a good (at least paying) job soon. I think although you did not want to write about this experience, it is always a relief after it has been done, there is something about sharing ideas, problems and happiness that makes one feel better. To write things down gives closure, and i hope this series has given you some.
    Happy thoughts (don’t have any money) 🙂

  64. Kizz3r said, on November 14, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Wow az. Epic story. I am glad you chased up the withheld paycheck and made sure the president got talked to. Can’t believe he had the audacity to do that to you when he clearly knew you had a wedding coming up and was tight on money.
    All the best!

  65. Frychiko said, on November 14, 2008 at 2:51 am

    Nice to hear this chapter is finally over. That sounded like a nightmare.
    I’ve been in a similar legal situation in Japan many years ago where the boss of the company I worked for fled the country with all the company’s money leaving all staff and customers hungry to get their money back. We eventually got back 80% of our salaries (about 2-half months wages) after half a year.

  66. Justin said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Before you wrote the Sour Apples series, I was actually worried about your withheld pay that was never mentioned again in previous posts. I’m really glad you got paid, despite it being late.
    The Sour Apples series has been so insightful and “entertaining”, that I’m sending some more cash your way, and as said, if you ever come out with a book I’m buying.

  67. Baby Spice said, on November 14, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Hey Az! Do you have a job now? Hobby Link Japan is hiring. Go to http://www.hlj.com/hiring08.html

  68. shena said, on November 14, 2008 at 5:53 am

    So, it was true that the so-called president swindled your $1500. Now that he’s got the stiff talking-to, what wbout the $1500? Did the parent company gave you back the money that rightly belong to you? They should pay you back. I hope they did.

  69. Kevin said, on November 14, 2008 at 6:30 am

    amazing…simply amazing.
    I’m over here doing my own stint as an ALT, and I’d been using you as a bit of a “guide” to how I should go about things, since a lot of our experiences were so similar (particularly about the black guy stereotypes).
    I know its shit trying to find work right now, especially if you’re in Japan while having the misfortune of being born NOT Asian. But there are options out there, and I’m sure you’ll find them. somebody mentioned above about working on a military base. That’s one! I know how burned out you are on English teaching, but being a direct hire ALT would help in the short term until you can find something better.
    You had a shitty, shitty experience, and it truly saddens me that something like that would happen. I can only pray you finally get what you deserve.
    stay strong!

  70. Anonymous said, on November 14, 2008 at 6:41 am

    You may try to look into selling merchandise on the blog. Find some of the most memorable quotes and sayings and make bumper stickers, pins, hats, shirts, etc.
    Keep your head up.

  71. Anonymous said, on November 14, 2008 at 6:41 am

    You may try to look into selling merchandise on the blog. Find some of the most memorable quotes and sayings and make bumper stickers, pins, hats, shirts, etc.
    Keep your head up.

  72. Anamynous said, on November 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Damn, Az, that was a shitty ordeal altogether. I’m glad you’re letting it all out here.
    Just let it all out, man, let it all out.

  73. J said, on November 14, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Fight the power, Az, fight the power!

  74. tekuno said, on November 14, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Az. Thanks for all that. Some of what you said reminded me of my job. Have you ever seen the move Fear and Trembling? It is a fictional film about a Belgian woman trying to survive a year in the Japanese workforce, and all the Japanese social quips that go along with it. It’s really interesting, shows a lot about how different the workplace expectations are in Japan compared to elsewhere. If you get a chance you should watch it. I think you’d enjoy and relate to it.

  75. :yb detsoP said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I love how on all of your sour apples posts there’s some douche posting FIRST! and not being so….losers.
    And finally I can stop biting my nails over this story.Thanks for posting it.

  76. Neil said, on November 14, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    One thing I said you did a bit too late was contact the parent company. The moment the president brought it up, I would’ve already begun planning to call them (unless you couldn’t during the day, in which case, send them an email or whatnot). The thing about lies is the reason I rarely ever tell one: If you tried hard enough, you can expose any lie.

  77. Anonymous said, on November 14, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Something I’m sure someone else has covered already: If you weren’t a married man, I’d say you should’ve been nicer to Small Wonder. She’s clearly fantastic at fellatio.

  78. Anonymous said, on November 14, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Something I’m sure someone else has covered already: If you weren’t a married man, I’d say you should’ve been nicer to Small Wonder. She’s clearly fantastic at fellatio.

  79. Will said, on November 14, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Just out of curiosity (sortof to gauge how much we should consider donating), about how much money do you need to catch up? I’d really like an answer, unless it’s too private in which case just ignore me and I won’t feel the least bit slighted.

  80. xerophinity said, on November 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Have you given the thought of coming back stateside with your wife? or are you actually stranded there with the money troubles you’re having.

  81. xerophinity said, on November 14, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    To add on someone else’s comment. You should give serious thought to organizing your editorials into a book.
    Also, try to expand your medium a little. I know writing is your first love, but I bet Az’s youtube channel would get a tremendous amount of hits if you’d post a bit more than just some Street Fighter Videos. I don’t want to use the v-word (vlog…. oops) but your current readership has been with you since the outpost nine days and it’s getting a bit stagnant. Expand your audience a little!

  82. Carl said, on November 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Az,
    I just wanted to put in my own 2 cents about the possibility of you looking into the possibility of publishing a book. I think your blog, and experiences, are on par with another site that I read on a regular basis(waiterrant).
    And this individual was able to get a book deal, and has been asked to write another one. I think that with your writing skills, that you would be able to easily have a book published at least in the American market.
    And being in the first phase of a marriage myself and being a lowly social worker, I can somewhat sympathise with the stress of the complete situation all around.
    Good luck with your job hunt, and definitely consider the possibility that you already have a significant amount of material ready to go for your first book. Give it a shot!

  83. Jonas said, on November 15, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Thanks a lot for this series, Az. It’s been a tough story to get through, but very enlightening. I’m happy for you that you’re finally away from that company, and it was great to read about the comments from Curly and Ms Shocker about your mood change.
    Although this has been a very welcome change of subject and style on your blog, I do look very much forward to some more light-hearted stories in the old Gaijinsmash spirit. Whatever; tales from your wedding, your parents’ visit, life as a married man… well, perhaps in particular the latter as I’m getting married myself here in Tokyo next spring.
    I wish for you to find a new good job soon, without all the absurdities of the previous place. Or, even better, as many others have commented, that you start compiling gaijinsmash posts into a book or commence on some other sort of writing career.
    Good luck, and thanks for all the entertainment (comedy+tragedy)!

  84. Jazzorion said, on November 15, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Wow, how did the president manage to keep his job? You’d think the parent company would start to suspect even more when a string of employees start quitting on them. Well anyways, glad you got out of that one man. I’m sure you’ll find a new job soon.

  85. Mary Catherine said, on November 15, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I sure picked a good time to pick up reading this again! Like many others here, I’ve been reading since the text-only OP9 version. I can’t believe what a ridiculous work environment you were in – and how long you dealt with it! I work for a rather large company, and while I have a great manager, one of my best friends/co-workers has a crap one who makes a fuss over weekly status reports (a la Office Space with the TPS Reports). I’ll direct him to Sour Apples to cheer him up!
    I’m glad you quit the job for the sake of your health! I’m sending a check your way. You’ve kept me entertained for far too many hours not to make a decent contribution at this point!
    Again, as others who’ve previously posted, I want you to hang in there and take care of yourself and your wife!

  86. Jonadab the Unsightly One said, on November 15, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Actually, I kind of think you should take your wife to a third country (China, Korea, the Phillippines, PNG, wherever) at some point, just for a couple of years, so you can both be foreigners together for a little while.
    Meanwhile, good luck finding a job. It does help (in any country) if you treat the job search *as* a job, i.e., expect to spend several hours a day really working at it. Which, granted, is discouraging, but hopefully not any worse than the job you just got out of.

  87. concray said, on November 15, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    wow…
    can bosses really do that in japan?
    there really should be laws againt that…

  88. Evil Abraham Lincoln said, on November 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    There’s always Yokota AB or Misawa AB. Believe me, you’ll receive better pay, more respect and the privilege of being around English speakers. Plus, you may be able to mentor some of those knuckleheads. (Disclosure: One of my troops is stationed at Misawa at this time, and he needs all of the help that he can get.)

  89. Morty said, on November 15, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    It’s great that you got what you wanted. He probably wanted you to sign them so he could cause you more damage…grrr…
    Eventually that boss will end up sitting in his own sludge. That’show it always ends.
    g’luck with the job search

  90. Zack said, on November 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    This may not be entirely relevant, but having just read about quite possibly the shittiest experience I’ve ever heard of an American having in Japan, I feel like I have to write this.
    Az, I really hope you stay in Japan. With the amount of ignorance Japan seems to have about foreigners, I honestly can’t think of a better person to represent us over there. I know we haven’t spoken personally, but I think you seem like a great guy. If anyone needs to be presented to Japan as a representative of how great an American person can be, Japan just needs to look over their shoulder at you.

  91. Anonymoose said, on November 15, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Your wife never stops talking about you in her blog.
    You married a Kyoto girl.
    In spite of what happened with that company, you still win.

  92. Jeff said, on November 16, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Just wanted to say, “Cheers mate!” and offer some random condolences from the internet.

  93. IGGI said, on November 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Holy living hell I’m pissed off at that company. Or rather, the president. Damn. He is the lowest form of a human.
    Just getting that out there.

  94. Sille said, on November 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Reading this saga made me weak at the knees in the worst possible way, and I can’t even say how happy I am about you not having to work there anymore! I would have never even imagined such a rathole even existed.
    Best of luck to you from now on! I sincerely hope you’ll soon find a job – one that you can actually enjoy. Like you said, this is one of the thougher spots. Eventually it will pass. Maybe at some point you could even pursue your dream (?) of becoming an author? You definitely have captured our hearts with your amazing writing skills.
    Also, yet again, congratulations upon getting married!

  95. Shinee said, on November 16, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Oh boy oh boy I can relate to you… I was the “victim” of a horrible job and – yes – a horrible boss as well. With such mishaps as him yelling at everyone simply because the girl he wanted to screw didn’t say good morning properly to him or trying to manipulate people into staying at the job. Add the understaff issues and him not knowing a thing of what he was doing…
    Damn as shitty as money problems are, no job in the world is worth grief and misery. I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I can totally relate. Here’s hoping things look up and just be glad you’re outta there 😀

  96. Ivan the Terrible said, on November 16, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    “Actually, I kind of think you should take your wife to a third country (China, Korea, the Phillippines, PNG, wherever) at some point, just for a couple of years, so you can both be foreigners together for a little while.”
    I hear North Korea is nice this time of year.
    And in North Korea, party gaijin smashes YOU.

  97. Jenna said, on November 16, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    It is a great time to come back to America… gas prices are going down, the economy isn’t as bad (but still pretty shitty overall), but hopefully that will change next year!
    Anyways, I wish you good luck!

  98. Theowne said, on November 16, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    “”””Your wife never stops talking about you in her blog.””””
    His wife has a blog?

  99. Mike said, on November 17, 2008 at 7:21 am

    “Those are classy comments about cotton-picking, Mike.
    I think Az is doing just fine in Japan even with the current financial strains. You know why? Because Japan gave birth to his very unique writing style and subject matter which could carry him deep into a very satisfying writing life. It also gave birth to his relationship with the woman who became his wife.
    All in all that sounds pretty sweet to me.”
    Yeah it goes right along with your sweet attitude as well. That shit only works in the states, here it will get you nowhere fast. Your right, this place has plenty of material to start a book with, thats why debito over at debito.org has a new blog entry everyday about this place. Your talking about birth to a relationship to the woman who will be his wife. How sweet of you again. lets see how long he stays married without a job and how long he can live with the inlaws. Japanese are very kind, until you come to them with your handout. Its another one of those things you just got to experience for yourself. Now this blog might help Az cope with all the shit in his life, but he will soon find out, like the rest of us did, that there aint no easy way over here. Living off of paypal donations? Wonder how long that will last? Id go back and teach English before I went and did something as low as that. And about the racial shit that goes on over here, what.. you want me to say it doesnt happen? This isnt the land of equal opportunity. The only equal opportunity is the fact that every gaijin, regardless of his/her nationality, is discriminated against.

  100. billydwilliams said, on November 17, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Ignore oolas,
    You do what your heart tells you. Stay if you want or leave if you want. I can only judge by your tone and from your reported discussions with your wife and her wanting to see the US. IMO, you should entertain the possibility of fleeing to the states. I wouldn’t let Japanese beurocracy or promises of proofreading from a stranger dictate life decisions though. I suggest a “shake-up” but that’s just what it seems like to me. You seemed a lot happier 3 years ago.

  101. Stan said, on November 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Hmmm. I noticed you were silent on the “cotton-picking”thing, Mike.
    That speaks volumes.

  102. Mike1 said, on November 18, 2008 at 1:37 am

    “You seemed a lot happier 3 years ago”
    Everybody is allot happier when they first got here. I guess I been in Japan too long because most of the post I see here sure are sweet. Is that how people are acting back in the states? Thats scary because you people are naive about what is going on in the world. The last thing this dude Az needs is any of that sweet talk. He needs a heads up about what is going down over here. Now allot of you are nice enough (or dumb enough, Id never do it) to send in that cash, but that will eventually dry up, its just human nature. There are tons of translation jobs over here, its just a matter of getting on the right job mailing list. This aint the country to take a 6 month vacation from your job in, you got to find something fast or youll be out on the street. Anyways, Im glad to see what Japan has done to me, because I see allot of softies in these replies. It would be a scary thing if Japan decided to attack the world again. You people better wake up and come around. Shit is different outside the U. S.

  103. Deeks said, on November 18, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Hey man, I’ve been catching up on the stories and I just want to say that I would love to be able to help you out financially but my business is slow anytime that isn’t summer and I’m still in school(low on funds), therefore I can’t and sorry for that. I would also like to say that I respect you for dealing with a lot of shit and I love the stories. Good stuff. Take it easy and good luck on the job search.

  104. mike said, on November 18, 2008 at 1:57 am

    gotta agree with marcus there, nothing like creating your own wealth. set up an llc, if they even exist there, and be your own boss…just a suggestion

  105. Mike said, on November 18, 2008 at 4:58 am

    “Hmmm. I noticed you were silent on the “cotton-picking”thing, Mike.
    That speaks volumes.”
    Uhmm…dumbass, please reread my post and think it over, without cultural insensitivity or PC or any other of the bullshit that is going through your mind. We are all cotton pickers here in Japan. Thats why I used the analogy. We are in service to our host country (as the U.S. government so polietly puts it) and we are the outsiders here. I worked with a Japanese who once owned his own company. He told me that the gaijin in Japan is like a machine, only to be used and exploited. Go back and read up on your history also, dumbass. All of the countries Japan once occupied where in service to the motherland, they were colonized with puppet dictators put in charge of their governments. This mentality is still out there. So meiji era Japan and the old South arent that much different. Do you think these attitudes go away overnight? Of course not, they are still there, passed down from generation to the next generation. Do a google on burakumin, sankokugin, Ishihara, etc etc and get your dumbass schooled. Am I saying that all of japan is a hell hole? No, there are good things, like limited crime and beautiful women. But there is also reality when it comes to employment. What Mr. Az has experienced goes on every week here. Much worse has happened to me, but there isnt much you can do about it. I think where Mr. Az fucked up is when he quit. He should of got fired, then you can get 6 mos of unemployment insurance.

  106. Stan said, on November 18, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Nice re-write of your original comments, Mike.
    You wrote originally:
    “I got to add one more thing dude, and you’ll probally not even post it but I dont care. Being a black dude over here can be tough. I think if I was black this would be the last country I every would want to live in. Allot of these people that post here are all nice and fuzzy, but they dont know whats up over here. Its tough enough being a white dude, man I can only imagine being black. dude you better find your niche and study up, otherwise your dumbass will be another cotton picker here in the land of Japan. Yeah, you read right. Lots of them doing that shit, making carpets or picking vegetables (chinese and pakistani). Visit your local Hello work. They can hook you up real fast.”
    Let’s see. You called Az a “dumbass.” You said “Lots of them” – no mention of you being among them as you assert in your later note -“doing that shit.” In fact, you specify who the “them” consists of: “chinese and pakistani.”
    Again, no mention of you being among them since you identify yourself as “a white dude.”
    So to sum up: you said that then, but you’re now counting yourself among the “cotton-pickers” and citing Japanese history to support your claim. That point is well-taken as far as it goes.
    But saying you didn’t say what you did say originally? Nah. Nobody’s buying that week-old sushi.

  107. Mike said, on November 18, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    “Let’s see. You called Az a “dumbass.” You said “Lots of them” – no mention of you being among them as you assert in your later note -“doing that shit.” In fact, you specify who the “them” consists of: “chinese and pakistani”
    First of all, where the F do you live at? Are you here in Japan? If you are in Japan, you would know that there are many “cotton pickers” in Japan, most from 3rd world countries, chinese, paki, iranian, nepal, brazil etc. You made allot of effort to try and twist what I said, but ended up making a dumbass out of yourself because your not in the know but trying to act like you are. Yes, I did call this kid Az a dumbass, because thats what he is. He hasnt been here very long and is posting his little traumatic experience on the net for attention and money. He can count on adding many more experiences like this to his blog if he stays in Japan, because this is just how it is. The reason his employer made him sign those bullshit papers is because he is black and they dont trust him. Blacks have a bad reputation in this country, some of it due to the media hype (US and Japanese), some if it due to the Nigerians living here exploiting the Japanese banks for money laundering operations, some of it due to the crimes commited by US servicemen who happened to be black and finally due to the Africans down in roppongi doing what they do . This is just how the shit is over here. Filipinos are exploited so are the Chinese. Before you give me a lesson on whatever it is you think you know, come do the time in Japan, not as an English teacher but as somebody who works with/for Japanese.

  108. Wayland said, on November 19, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Az, I’d love to drop a bit of cash your way bro, but making 400 (if I’m lucky) every two weeks sucks. If I was making that a week, I’d probably just send you a week’s check. Good luck with the future job hunting. You need a management job. You’d be a good boss since you’ve had so many terrible experiences with them.

  109. Stan said, on November 19, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Nice try, Mike. Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

  110. Justanothermom said, on November 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    To Mike & Stan;
    I don’t believe that the comments section on Az’s blog is an appropriate place for your arguments at the base level you are approaching, although I recognize the subject matter is what sparked the original comments. Perhaps you should find a message board on OP9 if you wish to get ugly with each other? In other words, if you can’t be civil, don’t muck up the comments section for the rest of us who read it.
    Additionally, Mike, I wonder by your comments how many jobs you may have worked in the U.S. before you went to Japan? The story Az tells here is not unusual in the States, either. I have worked for EDD for almost 30 years, and I have heard stories as bad or worse, of employers targeting people for every excuse under the sun, without factoring in the politics related to foreign nationals within the country. We may not have “cotton-pickers,” but we have migrant workers and illegals. We also have Russian, Mexican and Italian Mafia to deal with, not to mention gangwars and corporate greed (remember Enron?). The key difference is the established labor law and how it is enforced in each country. I think it would be wise not to judge Az’s situation, or his personality, based on your own (and perhaps, your acquaintances’) experiences, without knowing how the agency(ies) that enforce labor rights there handle things, and what they could tell you of what the norm actually is. You might find that your situation may not be unusual, but it also may not be the norm.
    I’m not posting the above paragraph to continue the argument, I’m just offering it as food for thought.

  111. Mike said, on November 20, 2008 at 5:56 am

    “without knowing how the agency(ies) that enforce labor rights there handle things, and what they could tell you of what the norm actually is. You might find that your situation may not be unusual, but it also may not be the norm”
    Say what? LOL. Everyone who works in Japan is subject to the Labor law and the ryodokijunkantokusho (labor office) here in Japan. So how could I not know about the labor law and the related agencies? There is no “norm” here. That is where your missing the whole point. The point is if your a gaijin, then there is no “norm” and people make it up as they go along. Everything in Japan is based on complex feelings and relationships, the law is the last resort for labor issues. Your post is a typical knee jerk response that most outsiders give because they cant comprehend something they have never experienced. You say what this Az guy experienced is the norm in the U.S.? My ass! If any employer in the U.S. did the same thing, he would be sued for generations. Ive never even heard of a lawsuit here in Japan. You got allot of learning to do before you go giving out answers.

  112. Stan said, on November 20, 2008 at 10:43 am

    C’mon, now, Justanothermom. Don’t you think you might be painting with just a little too broad a brush there?
    I understand the spirit of your concern. Traditionally, this is a wonderfully fun and interesting place to visit. I love reading these stories and have for a long time. But perhaps precisely because I have read them for a long time I felt it necessary to comment on what seemed to me remarkable comments. And I commented in a manner that was respectful, but pointed.
    I don’t think I was ugly or base. And if you re-read my comments closely I think you might agree. Some folks are made uncomfortable with any mention at all of race and thus consider any such mention ugly or base. But that need not be the case and wasn’t in my comments. I’m not saying that’s you, but you leave me guessing about what exactly you thought was ugly or base about my comments. I was just pointing out where I disagree with the comments that were made. Just as you are doing with your comments that follow your remonstration – which of course had the affect of continuing the conversation.
    After my most recent comment I was done. I was hanging up my spurs. Putting in my papers. Going on the downlow, the hush-hush, the QT. Signing off and signing out. And now I shall do just that. That’s me exiting stage left.
    “Shane! Shane!” the little boy calls after me. “Shane!”

  113. Corey said, on November 26, 2008 at 12:04 am

    8 parts. Should have tried for an even 10 😀
    Insane stuff. Can’t help but consider not moving to Japan at any point of time out of fear of this. Despite the fact that I realize (apparently not fully) that this is likely an extremely rare occurrence, plus it could really happen ANYWHERE. Frightening nonetheless.
    Doesn’t help that I can’t find an interesting career that gives me a reason to fully live in Japan (I don’t want a taste (ala a vacation to Japan), I want the whole bowl).

  114. Mike said, on November 27, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    “plus it could really happen ANYWHERE”
    Thats not true. In the states there are laws that protect labor, so dont try the cliche it can happen anywhere. There are laws here, but basically they only are enforced in a last resort scenario.
    Just for Az`s info- if you are fired in Japan without reason, your employer is required by law to pay you 30 days advance pay or give you 30 days advance notice. I cant remeber if its both but if they dont give you advance notice then they must pay you(like a penality). Otherwise, they can fire for no reason, but they have to give notice and pay. As far as I know, its illegal for an employer to ask about past experiences in Japan, but dont quote me on that. Ive never been asked, thats why I dont sweat getting fired here. This aint the states. On one hand its expected that youll get exploited, on the other, nobody cares about your past! So I collect the 6 months of unemployment, skill up and do something better. In the states, they be asking all sorts of stupid shit, why was you fired and blah blah. What am I supposed to say over here, I was fired because Im a forienger? Its alreayd understood so nobody ask..lol.

  115. mee said, on December 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Interesting story. Very close to me. I also quit my company (was laid off actually) and had really bad aftertaste. It has been bad for a long while. I was forced to come on weekends several weeks in a row and we’d been crunching for 6 months. Once the project was done, they laid me off. The lay-off happened a day before my boyfriend came to move country, so he’s penniless and jobless. At the end we decided to get married and leave the country. Despite all the bad things that happened, I have my love 🙂

  116. E said, on December 6, 2008 at 3:30 am

    I think I’ve finally almost caught up with the entries. What an interesting life you lead!
    They should make an anime of this…I can see it now. You shouting “Gaijin Sumashu!!!!!” with speed lines in the background….you even have names for all your powers that you can say when you attack…and pleanty of villains…

  117. Mike said, on December 10, 2008 at 6:32 am

    http://www.gaijinpot.com/job_view.php?jid=25645
    Another link if your worried about the race factor. This one says you can work from home. I was once told I wasnt qualified for a job moving furniture because the clients would complain about my gaijin face so dont tell me it isnt out there.

  118. sljinu said, on December 15, 2008 at 4:57 am

    Wow, I can’t imagine how I would’ve kept my cool like that…I heard a lot of stories about how people just have to suck it up and accept things like that in order to survive but geez, I would’ve reached my breaking point several months earlier than you would have. Kudos to you for holding out for so long.
    I also learnt quite a bit from your experience (and I’m sure a lot of other people did too) so I’m extremely happy that you posted this story up! It was so infuriating reading it though and I was just waiting for that epic Gaijin Smash…well, it wasn’t as epic as I was hoping lol but I guess we can’t win everything. At least he couldn’t withhold your last paycheck forever

  119. Dave said, on December 27, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I really like your blog and all, but I have to say that this does come off as much lower quality than your usual entries. Not only was this series long, drawn out, and often redundant, but it often seemed like you got yourself into all of these situations by either A) Taking on too large of a work load for yourself, B) Setting up circumstances that caused you to take on too large of a work load for yourself or C) Failed to argue that the work load was far too large and merely decided it was futile to argue.
    Ending each entry with “and the worst was yet to come,” or some other variant of the phrase also felt like a cheesy thirty minute TV show that tries to keep you enticed through the commercials.
    I guess for those reasons it’s hard the sympathies with you completely, but I do agree that the owner was a dick head. He sounded completely inexperienced, arrogant, and down right dirty. Yet, seeing how you are so bitter over the entire ordeal (as shown in how drawn out this little mini-series was), I’m sure your point of view is the least bit objective.
    Best of luck though, I really do hope things work out for the best for you. I’ve enjoyed your site for years, and I plan on enjoying it as long as you’re willing to write.

  120. Raijinz said, on December 28, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Almost everything in your “sour apples” saga resonated with me. I was in a very similar situation at my old job in the UK. My boss was arrogant, overbearing and paranoid, and a lot of my co-workers weren’t much better! After 4 years of BS, I felt like I couldn’t take any more, so I quit. I just wish it had been as smooth as your quitting had been (I’m not kidding!). All I can say is, I hope things work out for you in the long run. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing bro!

  121. Anonymous said, on January 22, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I hate to be the wet blanket type but I have to say that you could’ve dug your own grave by getting the guy in trouble. I don’t really know how employment history works in Japan, but I have had crappy employers who sought to make sure I never got another job. He could still be screwing you by lying to your prospective future employers about everything from your work habits to your attitude. :/

  122. Anonymous said, on January 22, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I hate to be the wet blanket type but I have to say that you could’ve dug your own grave by getting the guy in trouble. I don’t really know how employment history works in Japan, but I have had crappy employers who sought to make sure I never got another job. He could still be screwing you by lying to your prospective future employers about everything from your work habits to your attitude. :/

  123. Kamui said, on May 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Holy crap balls, Batman! I can’t believe all the crap you had to go through with this company. I know this is late in its typing, but I’m glad to hear you’re out of that situation and I’m sure karma will come to hit that president square in the jaw… probably with a bus.

  124. trina said, on May 28, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    just read the whole saga beginning to end, and i must say, your job troubles make mine look like a carnival fun ride. hope you found or find a much better job soon, good luck, and stay strong in the struggle ~*HAEWK*~

  125. greatwolf08 said, on June 3, 2009 at 4:33 am

    dude, if i had money i’d totally help u out but i’m in about the same boat. looking for a job but instead of being a newly wed i have college to pay :(. if only i could just create money from nothing, or maybe if i had the philosopher’s stone i could make gold from coal)


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