On the fast track to the exit ramp

As far as I know, a window seat is an undisputed perk in a Western workplace.  Not only do you get to admire the gleam of your perfectly polished wingtips, but you also get to observe the passage of  time as the sun gracefully wends from bright morning light, filled with the potential of a new day, to the satisfying, warm glow of a sunset signaling the winding down of a day full of achievement.

Window-less, lesser employees, however, must desperately try to photosynthesise energy beneath soulless, white fluorescent lighting, unaware of the passage of each of the days that they remain trapped in a battleship-grey, cubicle hellhole ergonomically designed to wring the last drop of their creativity and will to live.

So, windows are nice.

Or so I thought until last week.

I discovered that in Japan, a window seat is a bad thing.  It’s a signal, a warning indicating that you’re on the way out.  If you’re lazy on the job or are just over the hill, and find yourself moved to a window seat, management is trying to tell you, “Really, it’s going to be more productive for all of us if you just sit there all day and watch the clouds passing by.  When you get tired of that, well, you know where the door is.”

And to think that when I got my window seat, I thought it was all going so well. Luckily, as of today, someone put a cubicle wall between my desk and the window, Office Space style.  With these kinds of mixed messages, I’m not sure what to think.

So, to summarise, if you can see this from your desk in a Japanese work place:

Trees, rivers and ducks (respectively).

…start polishing off your resume.


One thought on “On the fast track to the exit ramp

  1. Wow. The possibility for cross cultural misunderstanding is massive.

    On a vaguely related note, today we had a workshop from our Belgian HR department on corporate travel. The slide on travel insurance reassuringly told us that we were insured for:

    – Medical emergencies
    – Lost luggage
    – Hi-Jacq
    ………….. no really.

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