Work-Life Balance

 

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I’ve gone to several interviews during the past two weeks. The old dusty suit, my faithful companion, and a pair of painfully uncomfortable knock off stilettos from Amazon.jp accompanied me to each glass-walled corporate office, where I sat, patiently, trying to fake a smile and an upbeat attitude.

The first interview, for a large restaurant company, only took ten minutes. However, a second interview for the specific location in Ginza that I’ve requested takes place tomorrow afternoon. The second interview from last week, with a bar in Ginza, was a success merely because I got lucky enough to be hired on the spot due to the absence of another staff member.

There were five girls in the bar that day. I was surprised and happy to see another half-black girl, or maybe a quarter black, working behind the bar. She couldn’t speak a lick of English and her blue eyes and bright white smile lit up the place from the inside-out. There are many foreign-looking people in Tokyo just like her. They look black or white on the outside, but culturally, they are Japanese. They must’ve been born in or raised in Japan. She covered her mouth as she giggled and poured champagne. Images of Rihanna flashed across the TV screen behind her. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly jealous, that my mix of black didn’t turn out quite like hers and that I had no opportunity to come to Japan until I was already twenty-six years old.

The second day, I was placed outside on promotion with an Iranian girl. We stood there with our umbrellas, holding a sign for the bar and greeting passing strangers with a friendly “konbanwa”. Later, we realized that our marketing was more effective if we spoke English to potential customers. So, we made the switch about half-way through, and pulled some into the bar.

The manager, a young woman from Lithuania, runs a tight shift. She doesn’t like the Iranian girl and is always watching her. I think I get along with her so well because unlike other people here, she’s refreshingly honest and hasn’t lost her sense of self. She can appreciate Japan without trying to pretend to be Japanese; a very rare thing for long-term foreigners. We laughed about American depictions of Iran as this super conservative country. She showed the customer pictures of her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, hijab-less friends from back home. Her Instagram boasted pictures of boats sailing on sunny horizons, bottomless cocktails, and girls dancing in the wilderness.

Outside on promotion for the last time, we met two Japanese gentlemen passing through. They chatted us up a bit and didn’t come across as weird or creepy at all. I gave them my Line and we made a group chat for an eventual double-date night. I gave up looking for anything serious at the moment but I’m keeping my eyes open and I’m grateful for any small opportunities that come my way.

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