Firefly in Japan, Part 8: …and I’m looking forward to find more ways to screw him out of more money!!
“How about 350,000 yen?” Bill said. Shane’s eyes widened.
HAHAHA ! BINGO WOOOOOOOOOO
“Well, ” I pretended to muse, “That seems pretty reasonable, I think. I’m pretty sure that would allow me to do martial arts and live. It is lower than 400,000 yen, ” I redundantly pointed out. “But I would much prefer to work for you guys rather than a large company. I accept.”
Bill’s beady eyes streched back as his cold suspicious look turned into a triumphant smile. I could see his happiness at ‘grabbing me’ from a larger company at a cheaper rate. These little signs foreshadowed what was to come later.
In any case, for now everyone was happy. I was relieved and overjoyed that I had finally found a job. Bill was happy that he stole me from a larger company. Shane was happy because Bill was happy. We all ate, drank, laughed and celebrated what was going to become a successful business relationship – for 3 months anyway.
Anyway, we all left the restaurant, drunk, stupid and happy. We stumbled around outside for a while talking about nothing.
Then Bill said, “So, when can you start?”
“Whats today, Thursday? I don’t know, how about tomorrow?” I said, keen to start contributing and making a difference.
“Tomorrow?!” Bill exclaimed. “We need time to make the contracts and all that kind of bullshit. Why don’t you start on Monday?”
“Oh, um, yeah I suppose that would be fine.” I replied, a bit forlorn.
“By the way, why do you look like shit?” Bill asked.
His words jarred me from my drunkenness, and I looked at him, shocked.
“Your clothes, they’re terrible. You call them business clothes? Why didn’t you wear something else?” Bill continued.
“Uhh… Well I didn’t…. um, the suit… that, um…” I burned red with shame at being caught with no money and shitty fashion sense.
“Hang on, you didn’t have anything, did you?” Bill caught on fast. If nothing else, Bill was a sharp guy.
I stood there, frowning, unsure how best to react.
Bill fumbled around in his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He counted off 5 sheets of 10,000 yen – about $500 US. He extended his cash-filled hand. “Go get yourself some respectable clothes.”
I looked at the wad of cash in his hand. I pushed it away. “No thanks, I don’t need charity. I’ll work for my money.”
Bill looked confused. “No, this is an advance from your salary. You didn’t think I was giving you the money did you?”
I stood my ground, unwilling to change my position.
“Look just take it. It’s coming off your salary, and I think you need it now. Here.” He prodded me a few times with the money.
I stood looking at it. Well, it’s an advance from my salary, I reasoned. It’s my money. Theres no problem taking it, right? I reluctantly held out my hand and claimed the money. “Well….. I suppose it’s ok. Thanks a lot, thats really helpful.” I said.
We drifted back to the station, and I promised to show up on Monday morning. I went home, and immediately paid back all my friends and told them about the good news. They were all supportive and happy for me. I went to sleep a happy man.
I woke up the next morning with a direction and a purpose for the first time in months. I threw some clothes on, and went shopping. I bought a couple of cheap shirts (available from various stalls and crappy shops around Tokyo). They’re functional, and they look pretty normal (if not a bit flimsy), but they start to discolour and fall apart after a few months as I later discovered. Next I found some cheap pants, a workable belt and some ties that weren’t too cheesy (but were still fairly cheesy). All put together, I looked like the perfect disposable salaryman. I nodded in confirmation at my reflection in a store mirror, and spent most of the remaining money in that shop.
The weekend passed in a flash. I turned up for work at 8:45am Monday morning, dressed to be passable. I walked in and met a couple more people. Looking back, these people were very forgettable, because within a few weeks, they would all be gone. They were quickly replaced with new, smiling faces, who would quickly burn out, and be replaced again. For all sorts of terrible reasons, the whole company was a revolving door for employees and clients, but I stood there decked out in my cheap attire, pleased as punch to be there.
I selected an empty desk and sat down. One of the guys setup an account for me, and I started downloading software and customising my PC. I was filled with jubilation – it was such a big novelty for me to get my very own phone, and computer. I even got my own filing cabinet, which I quickly filled with various stationary.
Within a couple of days I had once again established myself as a knowledge-base for various products, and people occasionally asked me for help. A few days later, one of the staff members called me over and asked me a question about Outlook. When he pointed to something on the screen, I caught a glimpse of the email he was writing. I’ve always been an extremely fast reader, and I absorbed a whole paragraph in one shot.
“………haven’t told any clients that I am leaving. All my work I had to complete is finished under the relevant client directories. I will be available for a couple of weeks after my final date to answer questions and………..”
I blinked. He noticed the email and quickly minimised it. I advised him on the solution to his problem, and returned to my desk troubled. I didn’t want to ask him about the email, since it was obviously secret. I looked around the room at the various staff members, and I wondered why he was quitting. I would later find out his predecessor had quit within 3 months. He was a relative veteran at 9 months.
Anyway, my training began awkwardly. There was no formal training process, but fortunately I picked things up quickly. One day, I was taken to a client site by Bill. We were setting up a rack filled with equipment in the middle of the city. I’ll never forget the name of the building – the KY building. Hehe.
We walked in, and examined the rack. We made a quick plan as to the work we needed to get through. Or more accurately, Bill wrote down a list of the most borings tasks for me to do, and told me to go and do it. After a while, the client came over. A tall, sharp warm man who made me feel welcome.
“Hello, nice to meet you.” He said, thrusting his arm out. I caught his hand in a firm handshake. “I’m Trevor.”
Bill stood there uncomfortably as Trevor and I exchanged pleasantries. Trevor eventually excused himself, citing some urgent work he needed to do.
After Trevor was safely out of hearing distance, I said to Bill, “Wow. He seems like a very nice guy. I’m looking forward to working here.”
Bill grinned in a twisted kind of way. “Yeah… and I’m looking forward to find more ways to screw him out of more money!!” Bill laughed out loud at his own joke.
What?! I thought with a start. Bill looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to laugh. Feeling dirty, I offered a forced chuckle.
Bill turned back to work, and I stood there full of conflicting emotions. Over the next few months, these feelings would only get stronger as I discovered the kind of people they were, and their ideas on acceptable business practice.
One morning I was a few minutes late for work (no, this was a different day to the coffee spraying incident). Shane sauntered over to my desk.
He cleared his throat as he leaned on my partition, in a perfect image of the boss from Office Space. “Morning, Firefly.” He cleared his throat again.
I was putting down my bag and turning on my computer.
“Uh, good morning Shane. How are you?”
“Uhhhhhhh…… do you know… what time it is?” Shane ignored my question, and cleared his throat again.
I looked at the time on my PC. “It’s 9:05.” I said.
“Uhhhhhh…. yeah. And what time are you supposed to be here?” Shane said, while clearing his throat simultaneously.
I frowned. “9am?” I asked.
“Right.” He fixed me with an extremely awkward half smile, and tapped his watch 3 times, and cleared his throat. “9am.” he said.
An awkward silence hung in the air. I looked at him. He half-smiled at me, as though expecting to share a laugh with me at how late I was, and how ridiculous it was for me to 5 minutes late. I flatly returned his stare.
“Don’t worry, I already plan to stay back 5 minutes to make up for my tardiness.” I said, devoid of any emotion.
Shane nodded, apparently satisfied, cleared his throat and returned to his desk. Management at it’s finest, I thought sarcastically.
I had many problems with them over the first few weeks. But since I was very grateful for my job when I was desperate for money and employment, I was very nice about all our disagreements. I was always very calm and relaxed, and I made a point to take the blame for everything, even when I was clearly in the right.
However just a few short months after I joined, we had our first major clash….