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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I was waiting for Shaider to rescue me, but he never came....

On my first morning in Tokyo, I looked out of the window (glass wall is a better way of describing it), and thought this is the best city I have ever been so far. I'd say it was love at first sight.
But like most love at first sight, it didn't last.
God forbid and if I can help it, I dont ever wanna go back, even if it's for free.
Below are the excerpts of incident report I submitted to my boss:
" Friday Oct 3, the customer is aware this will be my last day, so they are trying to schedule everything with me on this day. At 6pm, FC and I finished our meeting.
Still, I stayed on to finish important issues they have. When we were about to call it a day at 8pm, PM asked us to pack up because the Training Room needs to be setup for a function. So we thought we are going back to our rooms. Then she said we need to come down to Purchasing because she needs to “show” me a problem they are encountering with Purchase Order.
So off we went. The PM is not yet at the Purchasing Office and we were waiting. I told her staff that we're going back to our rooms first to put our bags. Then they started protesting and went after us, even to the elevator, saying we are not supposed to leave. We told them we just want to go to the toilet, and put our bags in the room. They insisted we can use the toilet in Purchasing and we can’t go yet.
We insisted to go to our rooms. One staff joined us at the elevator, continuously saying we should not be going anywhere as they are still having problems. This is quite embarrassing as we were like criminals being stopped from leaving, and there were other passengers (not employees) in the elevator.
After 5 minutes, we went back to Purchasing to have a look at the problem. We found that PM had setup a small workspace for us at the Dry Food Storage Room and my colleague (also Filipino) was made to sit on 3 softdrink bottle cases (makeshift chair, because there were not enough chairs). We investigated the problem and tried several options but to no avail. This was happening since morning, but had we been advised earlier, so we could have sought the assistance of support.
Anyway, at 10PM, I told PM that we’ll take a break and have dinner first. To my dismay, she said “No, after you fixed the problem, then you can have dinner”. I was very surprised and could not believe what I have just been told. I insisted we need to have dinner as we were already hungry and it was already late. My colleague talked to her in Japanese saying we could work better after dinner. She replied (in Japanese) “Oh you are hungry, what about my staff? They have not eaten too. So they are not functioning effectively too???”
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but like a robot we went back to work. Perhaps we just want to finish everything and leave the site.
When we still could not fix the problem, and she began was ordering us around. There was also an instance when she is summoning my colleague (to come) by her finger. I told him not to approach her if she did not address him by his name as she has become abusive already. Severl times, I stood up to tell her “You have to stop treating us this way, or else we will stop working”. She denied she was treating us badly.
Finally at 11pm, we managed to fix the problem. I told her it was fixed and that we were preparing to leave. She said there's one more issue and this got me very frustrated. It’s like she just wants to delay us further.
Admittedly, I know that this error must be solved, and I saw that all her staff were still there waiting for it to be fixed. So I decided to work on it further. However, I told her I wanted to have dinner first. She went mad, and told us again “After you solved the problem, then you can have dinner for 30 minutes!” I told her why she needs to time even our dinner, and that we have been working since morning and this is beyond our contracted time. She argued they were experiencing a problem because of us and we must fix it.
At this point, the Assistant FC arrived and I immediately went to seek her help. I explained to the AFC our predicament, and that PM has not allowed us to have dinner. PM insisted because we have not solved the problem and that she offered to buy us food from the vendo but we refused.
Exhausted and frustrated, I told the PM that she has to stop treating us like slaves, and to stop ordering us around. I explained that we do not mind working on the problem even if it’s late, but please stop treating us like that. The AFC seemed to have no power to decide on the situation. She didn’t do anything nor say anything to us. At this point I felt helpless already, and I just want to solve whatever there is to fix so I can go.
We went to my room to try and call Support (whoever is available) just to advise us what to do. We could not find anyone so we went again to Purchasing. When we got to the Storage Room (our work area), PM gave us 1 small sandwhich and 1 bread (don’t know what it is) and 2 cups of water and told us “Normally this is not allowed, but just for this time, you can eat inside the Storage room”.
That would be our dinner. We felt like we were dogs. We did not eat it.
Finally, we solved the problem at a little before 2AM. However, PM asked me not to go yet as she wanted to discuss the User IDs. I told her it is very late and showed her where to find it in the manual.
She insisted for me to stay, mentioning it is still hours before my flight (Im flying out at 9AM, and bus going to airport leaves at 6AM. She didn’t want me to sleep at all!). I told her I barely have 4 hours. She said “my staff has not gone home yet. “. I had to remind her that I am not her staff, and Im not from Japan. She suggested that I move my flight which I refused. I told her there is only 1 flight for Philippine Airlines, and as if to check if I am telling the truth, she attempted to open the website to check. I got very furious and said that I am leaving. Then she mentioned something discriminatory “Maybe because that is your culture.”
After packing our laptops, she saw we are about to leave so she approached us and said goodbye, shook my hand to say thanks, and then attempted to hug me (I refused) while saying “I just had to do my job”.
I replied “No, it was too much” and walked away. "
Now many would ask me, why I didn't just walk off? Believe me, I wanted to. And I wanted to get physical with her numerous times... but I had to reason out with my inner self as well. My colleague will be left behind for another week and I dont want him to bear the consequences of my actions. Moreover, I wanted to prove what kind of people we are, that we are far better professionals, and that we will finish the job no matter what.
This incident happened to a professional like me, who wears dark suit, high heels and hands out a business card. Imagine the plight of other Filipinos who work in clubs, or as a house helper?
What I have experienced may be an isolated case, and should not give anyone an overall impression on how the Japanese are treating Pinoys. However, this should open our eyes that abuse in the workplace happens in many forms, to anyone, by anyone.
Nobody deserves that kind of treatment. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody. ..not even to ‘her’ who did it to me.

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