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Tokyo Office Worker
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(but seeks to reassure friends that he's still a "normal", friendly, human being)

Saturday 1st December 2001

Some may have heard me say in the past that "I will never succumb to leading a normal life, working 9-5 in a suit in the city". Yes, I have been known to utter those words, and yet right here, right now, you find me writing from deep in the heart of Tokyo's dark skyscraper district. My black suit is heavy on my shoulders and my tie is wringing the very life force out of me as the stiff collar of my shirt bites into my aching neck.

Well, it's not quite that bad, in fact I've really quite enjoyed my first week at OBC, the Overseas Broadcasting Corporation. Don't be misled by the name though: Do we operate overseas? No. Do we broadcast? No. Are we a corporation? No. In fact, OBC is simply a correspondance course operator, and I am one of those much respected professors who spends hours toiling over the essays that have been sent in. I have approximately 300 students who are based in every corner of Japan. Most are in their last year of university and have been signed up to by their future employers such as Fuji or Mitsubishi. Consequently, the vast majority are not at all keen students - this has it's advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that their essays are often very short, making them easy to correct.

The disadvantage is that when asking them questions over the phone (the course includes six 5-minute calls) it can be like trying to draw blood from a stone.

Another disadvantage is that you have to read the same story 40 times a day for two weeks. I am beginning to feel that I AM Mr Sato who has "a wife and a daughter and a son and is 45 years old and likes to go scuba diving and..."

The office atmosphere is great, and my Australian boss Darryl is probably the most easy-going manager that I've ever worked for. The hours enable me to continue working two nights a week at my private english school in Shibuya which I must say I am thoroughly enjoying. The themes I choose for lessons are many and varied; last night it was Mad Cow Disease, tonight it's Marriage by Pregnancy. My students are generally very enthusiastic and appreciate my "I'm just one of you" attitude.

I understand that there won't be any christmas for me this year. Despite the abundance of cheap tack in the shops to celebrate the festive season, there is no holiday and no official recognition of the christian festival. We do, however, have six days off over the new year, which I will spend with Kae south of Nagoya at her folks place. She tells me that the general custom is to drink a lot which I can't say I object to.

Anyhow, my lunchbreak is fast slipping away, and there are plenty of tales of Mr Sato and his Wife, Kimiko (she's a nurse you know), awaiting my red pen.

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