Postcard from the Kaisha: Elevator Bitch Update

I haven’t discussed my love for elevator etiquette recently. Let’s explore that.

The other day I made the rookie mistake of attempting to use the elevator towards the end of the lunch rush, which means all the secretaries and their hangers on are all pouring back into the building and up the elevator to our office. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem until you start to consider the clusterfuck of logistics that accompany elevator riding in Tokyo office buildings: ladies first as a concept put in practice stresses people out; women, in an attempt to be placating or whatevs, often hold the doors open for the men; even when there is plenty of time to exit the elevator without holding the door open, someone always holds it open lest someone else’s shoulder be violated by a closing door; always keep bowing until the doors close. Always.

When an elevator finally rocked up, it opened to reveal a dozen pairs of eyes staring back at me in surprise. Oh! That whitie still works here! Then began one of the most painful elevator emptyings I have ever born witness to. After a bit of foot hopping, the ladies in the front got out at a leisurely pace and began to make headway with the Opening of the Office Door routine which can sometimes trump elevator procedures in its inefficiency.

While they busied themselves with um, opening a door and walking through it, some more secretaries got off after hesitating long enough that the elevator button bitch wouldn’t think them presumptuous for exiting the elevator in an order that made the most sense from a purely practical perspective. Then there are two secretaries left cowering in the corner while a male Professional plays button bitch and encourages them to get out first (who says chivalry is dead?). They of course have to giggle and pussyfoot around a bit before trying to get him off the elevator first. I mean, god forbid they just get off the fucking elevator. Knight in armor that he is, the Professional insists that they get off first, which they finally do paying no heed to the fact that I have been waiting, oh, some 10 minutes to get on this elevator since the doors first opened. As the Professional and his horse get off I start making a move for the door, which promptly closes in front of me. I make some half-assed attempts at sticking my foot in the door to no avail. This could have been avoided had they all just gotten off the elevator in the most logical order instead of straining the doors’ patience. As I start to swear aloud while looking at the last of the secretaries entering the office doors, I see a couple of them have seen my failed elevator attempt and are tittering among themselves. Maybe it’s pitying tittering (say that 10 times fast), maybe it’s the only way they know how to deal with uncomfortable situations, maybe they’re just not that nice.


15 thoughts on “Postcard from the Kaisha: Elevator Bitch Update

  1. rydangel says:

    that sucks. i’m glad you’re continuing to blog, i like your writing style. love the new name, although after working 10 years in an airport in the us(ATL), I wish we DID have sound princesses, because some noises should not be heard in the ladies restroom. 8p
    about your elevator situation,i would act like a ghetto gajin bitch and force my way on before everyone got off, rude i know, but all is fair in the elevator lunchtime wars. as a professional i guess you can’t really do that. but it be nice if you could and if anybody said anything i’d act like i couldn’t speak japanese.

    • Thanks for following me over here! I can definitely see the plus of the SP when you’re about to let one rip and can then be identified…even I have my limits! But I am getting tired of feeling like my pee is being policed!

  2. Séri says:

    soooo glad that you’re back! Although a little sad to hear you’re still not jazzed with the workplace. Is the moving-to-North-America plan still on, at all?

  3. Funny you mention it, the wheels are in motion. There are some great things about the Kaisha, I just don’t blog about them…not as interesting. It is s shame though, and I often ask myself if I could have done things differently…

    • Séri says:

      I don’t think you could have though… going up against what one kaisha represents, a microcosm of Japanese society, is extremely difficult. And that’s true too, I don’t think you or anyone is masochistic enough to stay in a terrible place for so long, so it must not really be THAT bad, but the bad parts are entertaining! Thanks for sharing and I’m really glad you’re back and glad to hear future plans are progressing. 🙂

      • Thank you for your words of encouragement! I will update on the plans when I can.

        • Séri says:

          Your reply reminds me… this is a long shot, but could you give me any advice on getting a job like yours? ie., a non-teaching-English job that a native English speaker with N2+ Japanese ability can do? I’m already living here and the contract for my current job is up in March, though the job doesn’t have to start in April, that’s just ideal. I have four years of US work experience, in publishing, though I don’t expect it to translate (but speaking of translating, that’s my dream field someday, but I’m not pro yet). You probably can’t help or don’t want to, which I’d fully understand, but for me you are living the dream, relatively speaking, career-wise, so I would LOVE any help you could provide!! Thank you.

          • I am stunned! I don’t think anyone reading this has ever asked such a thing. To be honest, I will probably not be much help, but I can try to offer some advice on job-hunting, most of which you probably already know. Do you want to email me? Or have me email you? I think a lot of Western gaijin doing interesting things here are very self made and the rest are in international business, finance, etc. Either way, if you want to chat with low expectations of what I can actually help with, let me know! 🙂

            • Séri says:

              Ahh! Anything would be wonderful! I mean, you managed to transition from student to office worker WITHOUT an English teaching interlude, so that alone is astonishing. I don’t know your email, so if you could please hit me up at saerigraphie @ gmail, it would be amazing!! Thank you so much!

  4. WildPandasEatU says:

    Wow, you are a better person than me! I probably would have stood there with my hand on my hip and my foot tapping during the Secretaries vs. Button Bitch exchange. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a patient person, but the ridiculousness of the situation would bring out the bitch in me.

  5. Michelle says:

    I opt for “they are not nice”. Plus I guess they’re kinda stoopid, too. 🙂

  6. selena says:

    This has happened to me, recently! Except I just can’t be bothered to care and loudly exclaimed, “Really?!?” in my bitchvoice as the door shut in my face. I just can’t with the fake polite.

    • Oh Selena I’m sorry to hear that! I am so at that point, too. One of these days I won’t be able to stop what comes pouring out of my mouth. Fingers crossed it isn’t Japanese but if it is, that it will be perfect and cutting.

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