Monday, July 28, 2008

Let's Ecology! 8: A job interview (part 3 of 3)

(Here are part 1 and part 2.)

So I was feeling pretty darn good when I came out of the Shacho's office. As I passed through the crowd of fellow-applicants, one of them asked me how it went. Instead of just brushing her off with some vague platitude -- something the Japanese language specializes in -- I told her the truth. "Great," I blurted out without thinking. "He said he wants me to start out part-time and see how it goes." Of course, about two seconds after I said that, I realized that it could be taken as "I just got the job, you losers." Naturally, I didn't mean anything like that. She just asked me a question, so I answered it. When I'm talking to people I don't know, I tend to think either too much about what to say or too little. Often the results aren't too favorable.

So I went home. I told my wife I got the job. On Monday, I gave notice at my daytime English-teaching job. On Tuesday, when I got home from work, the company still hadn't called. On Wednesday, when I got home from work, there was a letter from them waiting for me.

"Thank you for your interest in working with us," it said. "Unfortunately, we found that you do not meet our needs at this time. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors." And that was that. So long Real/dream Job. Maybe in America I could have sued the Shacho for lying to me, but in Japan that idea was a non-starter.

When I tried to figure out what went wrong, I found myself growing suspicious. There had been something odd somehow about the group dynamic among those applicants. I'd noticed it then, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Looking back, though, I thought I came up with the reason. I'm pretty sure at least one of those applicants -- probably the one who asked me the question when I came out -- was a ringer. I think the company snuck an employee into the mix to observe how the applicants acted when they were left together. It sounds paranoid, I know, but I think it's true. And I think I lost the job because I didn't join in the group talk and because of what I said coming out of the interview. Neither one of those things made me look good.

But that actually made me feel better about losing the job. If I was right, my first instinct -- not wanting to work there -- had been dead on. Not only was the Shacho an abusive jerk, he was a sneaky jerk as well. Slipping a ringer into the group was borderline crazy. And, later, I found out that the coaches of the teams that the company brought to Tokyo uniformly complained about the way they were treated, namely, the quality of the venues, availability of practice facilities, and so on. As one coach put it, the company was interested in putting on events; it couldn't have cared less about ensuring the quality of the games or meeting the needs of the competitors. If I'd gotten the job, I would have been stuck right in the middle of that, taking all the heat from the coaches and athletic directors. Some "dream job" that would have been. So it clearly wasn't meant to be. It was meant not to be. That's what I told myself, anyway.

Meanwhile, though, I'd given notice at one of my jobs. My income was about to be cut in half.

More "Let's Ecology!" posts are here. "Let's Ecology!" is the story of my stint with a Japanese environmental group (or sort of an environmental group -- it's "complicated"). Look for new posts every Monday. The names have been changed to protect me from lawsuits. Everything else really happened.

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