I started a new job today at a (very) large soy sauce interest. I'm working as a proofreader/researcher (thus, my official title is perhaps proofreaderslashresearcher) a few hours on weekdays. It's really an exciting opportunity, and I finally feel, in a little way, that I'm doing what I want to be doing. It's a Japanese company and all of my coworkers are Japanese speakers, so it should be a good chance to get some practice with the language, as well as hone my abilities as an editor. Even better, the company makes an effort to be environmentally and health conscious, and they have an organic version of their sauce in addition to a line of vitamin supplements.
It was a bit of a long process getting to this point, and a couple of times, through miscommunication with the Japanese-speaking staff at the recruiting company--as a well as a personal tendency to expect the worst--I thought I had been shot down. But, in fact, I got the job: they must have been impressed by my interest in cooking, or maybe I was the only person actually willing to work for three hours in the middle of the day.
Because that really presents a problem. It's difficult enough to get a job here, and good part-time jobs are rarer still; it will be hard to find something that fits around a 2-5 schedule. The only thing I've come up with so far is teaching English, and while a job as a kid's teacher would get me doing something active and away from the computer a few hours a day, I just ran screaming from that party, didn't I? But I rationalize taking this job thinking this is a good opportunity to break into proofreading/editing/translating (sorry for all the strokes today), and even more than that it is an interesting subject. There are two things that I am especially interested in these days: bicycling and cooking. To have one of those subjects be a part of my job is nothing less than fantastic. I've had many jobs, but while the job may have been interesting, I'm not sure a single one of them was focused on a subject I was interested in. The hourly wage is good, so even at the few hours I'm working, I'm making a fair amount, but I will have to get another job soon. In the mean time I'll just have to cut down on the prime rib lunches I've grown accustomed to. Seriously, though, I plan on saving money on train fare by riding my bike to work everyday, which will be a great excuse to get in shape.
Today started with a meeting with the recruiters who set this up, an English woman and a Japanese man, who have helped me through the process for the past month or so. They went over some administrative stuff, and I learned an unfortunate fact that further strains my budget, but shouldn't have been a surprise: as an hourly worker, I am only paid for days I work, so I will not get paid through the rest of Golden Week. Golden Week is a collection of holidays at the end of April that are often used along with personal holidays to take off a whole week, and it seems like the whole country travels during this time. I used to get paid for this time off at my old job, but I will not this month, so not only can I not travel because there are just too many other people traveling, but also I won't get paid for the time off (I'd rather work at the moment). One less stay at the Tokyo Prince hotel, shucks.
After the meeting, they took me over to the company's office. I noticed a sign that said Fridays are "casual days", and despite the fact that the three young women at the reception desk wore their usual uniforms as they bowed in unison to us, my boss certainly was in a casual outfit when he arrived to take me to our office. It was a welcome change to see him in a fairly relaxed shirt and light-colored pants. I am not against wearing ties and suits, but I prefer casual wear myself, mainly because I hate dealing with dry-clean only clothes.
We took our leave of the recruiters, then headed upstairs, where he showed me to my locker, then proceeded to introduce me to the international department. The office is set up in a "traditional" Japanese style, meaning there are no cubicles or walls (except of course the walls between us and the outside), and everyone works in the same room. During the course of introductions, the department manager called everyone's attention to me, introduced me, and asked me to say a few words. I unexpectedly had 50 or more pairs of eyes on me, so I made it short and in English; now I wonder if I should have said a bit more. But it was all very cordial, and I think perhaps it was better to leave it at that than to grasp for words. After that I was shown around to some of the other important people, then led back to my desk.
My boss then explained some of the tasks I would be doing. He handed me some brochures to look over. One of these I was to check for any awkward expressions, and that is what I spent most of the next two hours doing. It was enjoyable work, and I feel pretty confident about my decisions, but I know I am no expert in editing. But I was able to score a point when I just happened to check (more out of personal interest than for business purposes) the name of a Dutch city; they had misspelled it twice in the brochure. When I saw that I felt like a kid that had been given some candy: it was so clearly wrong to someone who knows such things, but would be passed over by someone who didn't know anything about the Netherlands or hadn't taken the time to look it up.
I finished the brochure, then went through my changes with the supervisor, then prepared to go. I felt a little awkward on the way out, as I know it is normal for Japanese office workers to leave only after their boss has left, and they will often be working late into the night. I was leaving at five, almost on the dot. I wasn't sure of the etiquette, so I just slunk out after saying goodbye to the boss.
Now, after a month-long weekend and one day of work, I have another four-day weekend ahead of me! Not such a bad thing, just wish I was getting paid for it like I used to!