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Workin’ for the Man

If you’ve ever had a job, you’ve probably noticed that your employer likes to segregate your time into Work, which, according to my boss, is defined as “whatever the hell I tell you to do,” and Not Work, somewhat more loosely defined to be things you can do while drinking beer.

My current job is no different. Showering, for example, is Not Work, in spite of the fact that, were I not coming to the office I would not shower in the morning, or, to be perfectly honest, ever. The 15 minutes a day I spend dodging goose shit between the inconveniently located parking lot and my building, which was built on the site of a much more conveniently located parking lot, is, technically, Not Work. But since it’s essentially indistinguishable from what I do in my office I count it as Work and thus get paid for spending 15 minutes a day outside.

The goal for both employee and employer, of course, is to find a job where you can’t tell the difference between Work and Not Work and happily spend 16 hours a day at the office, whistling a three-part harmony with the people in the cubicles on either side of you. This is basically what happens in Japan, except that Japanese workers work 24-hour days and due to greater cubicle density can achieve a seven-part harmony. They can get away with this (the 24-hour days, not the whistling, which is impressive nonetheless) because Japanese people do not shower and do not have geese and therefore do not need to distinguish between Work and Not Work. Think about it: have you ever met a smelly Japanese person? They are either meticulous hygienists or, after generations of living in close proximity, have evolved beyond the need for sweat glands. For those of you who think it’s the former, I would suggest that it’s very hard to conquer China while waiting for the water to get hot.

There are only two logical explanations for this phenomenon:
1. Japanese jobs are fundamentally more fun than American jobs.
2. Japanese people are pretty messed up.

On the other hand, I’ve had some Japanese beers and it isn’t like they really have anything to look forward to after they leave the office.

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