1Q84 World. 5/2015

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Abbey Road album is flowing from Tadao's earphones while his eyes are shut. The train rattles, back and forth we go, in continuum. As he meditates, or, rather, sleeps in thought, he reflects on his current life. His friends all have steady jobs, getting a position before him. For a year, he's been looking everywhere, applying to dozens and dozens of locations, only to be ignored or declined.

His luck has been so down the drain that he is beginning to feel that his words are cursed, one look at his work experience and his resume goes to shreds. While others get accepted, promoted, and move on up, Tadao slides away in a different corner.

Nobody sends him messages, not even his friends. He's drowning in student loans. His girlfriend is in another country, and isn't as reachable. A coworker he'd worked with suddenly stopped contacting him after Tadao left. He asked for a drink, only to be left out in the dark, a world of crickets. That person vanished somewhere beyond Tadao's reach.

In other words, nothing really made him happy, or motivated.

Everyday he'd come home exhausted and tired, with no incentive and strength to do anything but sleep. Work consisted of banal customer service, receiving criticisms, filing dull paperwork, escorting passengers (why can't they navigate the airport themselves?), answering the same questions on and on. Sooner or later he wouldn't be able to take it anymore. Days were dreadfully long. Passengers were usually cooperative but a pain to deal with nonetheless.

Since childhood, his dream is to become a pilot, but the tasks he deals with now is not even close to helping him achieve such a goal. Granted, it's still within the aviation world, but when it comes to the tasks, they are two different worlds. A glimmer of hope twinkled in when he got to briefly sit at the captain's seat of the 777-300ER, but to get there is not an easy feat. At the time he knew it's going to be a long, exhausting, hellish journey to be able to sit there again, in uniform.

However he couldn't get himself to believe that he hit a dead end. Somewhere, there is a light in the tunnel and he sees a glimpse. In due time, the light is bound to get clearer and brighter. At some point, something great will happen.

He's finally home from work after two hours of commuting. Immediately, he sets his briefcase on the chair, loosens his tie and unbuttons his drenched shirt. In the kitchen he cracks open a beer and collapses on the sofa. He opens the window and it's a muggy, humid evening, birds are chirping. The sun almost sets, darkness slowly ensues. Tadao gets up and changes into shorts and a tee. He flips open his laptop and begins applying to jobs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I don't know who to trust anymore. Job boards are full of scam, swindling you in their company. What kind of society have we become.

People are incompetent, so limiting sometimes.

What the hell can I do. Where do I start. I can't get anywhere.

Damn damn damn

Meanwhile others have acceptances.

Damn damn damn.

But cheer up, you'll find something.

Sitting in the captain's seat of a Boeing 777-300ER was the key highlight of my life recently.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The days go by on and on with nothing to note. The most I would ever do is swim and work out at the sports club alone. I eat alone, take walks alone, and sleep alone. If someone told me to list the things I've done in the past month or so, it would probably remain blank.

I'd go to work and go straight home. Almost a year goes by since my graduation, and still no company has even an iota of interest in me. It's as if I possessed an air of hatred to them, after "careful" consideration. An employment recruiter spams me with job openings way off my radar. Rejection after rejection. Nothing gives me motivation anymore. Things just don't seem right. My high school reunion is in three months. They're bound to ask my whereabouts these days 99%. Not having anything would be such an embarrassment. In retrospect, fours years just fast-forwarded. College just flew by, like a dream. Four years of struggle, and the best kind of fun I've ever had. Then come graduation, and it dies down, where the real world awaits. Put on your suits, grab your suitcases, cram yourself in a rush hour train, and get yelled at your boss. Rinse and repeat.

"It's gonna take another what? 2 or 3 years for you to find something," someone told me.

At that moment I lost it. I couldn't stand hearing such a thing. I know I'm not that lousy. And I know that somewhere, someone would accept me.

Though I accept that this is only a temporary feeling. I'm having a hard time at the moment. Things will get back on track soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 made its way as the holidays slowly waned. Christmas trees that were once placed in warm living rooms adorned with ornaments were now piled up and littered in the cold streets as if they bore no meaning anymore, ready to be shredded. Be that as it may, several stores still had their holiday decorations up to cherish the remaining days of this wonderful time.

Looking back, 2016 was not half bad. The year I graduated. The year I started wearing glasses. The year I had the best time in my college career, where I partied hard, made new friends, studied abroad to Korea, and even found a lover and we're still going strong. It was a great year. I pushed myself in that year, and I plan to continue to challenge myself in 2017. Here's to many more fun adventures in 2017.

My girlfriend was off to Cancun for a few days with her friend, and I sent her off at the airport. Planespotting was a hobby of mine, but I couldn't really observe as many that time. I headed back to my work location, sat at a Starbucks, and read a paperback. It was a gloomy, rainy windy day. Come five hours in the air and she was in a heavenly world of sunshine. I imagined her bathing in the sun, capturing the sea breeze. It couldn't get any better for her. Without her, my reality began to spiral in odd ways.

My work proceeded in the usual form, nothing remarkable. Nothing exciting. My mind was always drifting somewhere else. It's amazing how I could interact with customers when my thoughts were elsewhere. Though on occasions I'd see the most random people I knew. One time my mother's friend who I haven't seen in years recognized me as I ringed her up during check-out, and today I saw my friend I worked with five years ago. For reasons unknown, I'd meet people I haven't seen in years.

After work though, something happened. One of my coworkers sped out the door and started crying. Walking outside in the darkness, I was right behind her. I had the urge to ask her if she's okay, but I couldn't get the courage to do so. I felt she wanted to be left alone, so that's what I did.

The next day, a man with a ski mask came in the store, wobbling his way toward me. I was manning the cashier that hour, and mentally prepared myself if anything happened. Eventually he stated that all his possessions have been stolen and he'd need to start from the bottom. He asked for a sample product, and we decided to let him have it. Manager took care of the rest.

What's more, there was a frequent customer I always seemed to notice. He would come in, browse around, and purchase an item in a swift, calm manner. Nobody probably noticed him except me, and he probably didn't notice me one bit, but I've come to notice his presence whenever he showed up to the store. Seeing him helped me come to realize that reality was operating, and time was ticking in normal fashion. It was part of a routine in my work; if I didn't see him visit the store once in a while, something was wrong.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I woke up around 6 in the morning, my heart pounding as I lay awake in the darkness. Outside it's still dark with no sign of the sun yet. I sat upright on my bed and reflected back on what I had just dreamed. It wasn't a pleasant one, and it was vivid to my own eyes, as if I was actually there. It's the third time in a row I've been having nightmares, and sooner or later I needed to find a way to stop it.

I was in the hospital, exactly why I don't recall. Suddenly, I start escaping from something or someone, and two cops dressed in black grab me and taser me twice. They drag me along somewhere outside and then I woke up panicking.

What led me to have such a dream? Was there an evil spirit seeped inside me, and I needed to undergo some mindful purification process to get it out? But then again, I had a habit of eating late due to my work, and that's known to cause my brain and metabolism to become more active, leading to obscure dreams.

Later in the day, I got ready for a meeting with a recruiter. Dusting off the unpleasant remnants from my dreams, I washed my face and shaved. I ate a simple breakfast, bagel with cream cheese. I threw on my black coat and headed out the door. While riding the train, which was delayed, I thought about the dreaded Japanese job hunting system.

In Japan, finding jobs is a nuisance, especially for new graduates who have no prior experience in the real world. Especially in countries like Japan, the only country that has age restrictions when it comes to job hunting. Usually you'd need to find a job a good number of months before you graduate or else you'd end up with little to no job opportunities after. During this so-called "job-hunting season" college seniors crawl around job fairs, downing in the same, dull, creativity-killing black suits, like cars running on the highway with their headlights in the night. You don't know who's driving, you can't see the car, and they all look the same, one after the other. That's what it's like. It's frightening when you're at a career fair. Everyone copiously jots down notes, nodding at everything the company presenters say, as if we're looking at a dystopian world. Think about it.

Everyone dressing the same. Same hair, same style. There's no openness. Trapped in a society where you can't choose what to do. Unlike companies in the States, you can apply for anything, even if your major doesn't match the job you're applying for. As long as you show passion, a likable personality, pass their endless rounds of interviews, and pass their dreaded web test (sort of like the SATs), you're in. A journalist could be an engineer, or vice versa. So where does all that four years of hard journalistic studies go?

In the dumps.

The system is structured so that anyone can fill in for anyone. Everyone starts from the bottom, and everyone is trained the same way.

"They're like robots just agreeing to their bosses," my friend said.

But in the States, creativity and individuality is enforced, which is a reason some Japanese decide to escape here. For good. But of course there are some down sides, even here in the U.S. Jobs are never easy to find.

The employment agency was narrow and small, with paper boxes stacked up nearly to the ceiling. Paperwork and files, I'm assuming were for the receptionist were stacked on the front desk, but nobody was there. Right then a woman wearing an ordinary grey suit came down from the back of the office to greet me. Shortly, I was asked to complete a Microsoft Office Suite knowledge test, a Japanese test, and then met with two other recruiters. Both scratching their heads and crossing their arms in thought, they seemed to have no idea how to help me. Right then I questioned if the tests I took were of any use at all. It took three hours to complete everything, and I left the office feeling a tad bitter.

Weeks pass and I got nothing from them. Well that's that.

Other days I continued to work at a retail store, which drained my existence in piecemeal steps. Nothing fun ever happened there, not that I was expecting anything. I'd clock in, restock merchandise, clean, vacuum the floor, and stand around to help customers who sometimes gave the worst attitudes, slamming their fists on the counter claiming they were overcharged. On top of that was the manager, the manager who'd only complain and give orders. But what else were managers for? It was a dreadful place to be, especially when you had to work weekends and holidays. In retail, you left from the normal cycle of living. TGIF was almost never spoken. It's a realm of eternal boredom and alienation from society, a place where you were stuck in the airless basements of the storage room while everyone else was out and about celebrating the holidays. Where smiles were forced, and deep inside you felt annoyed as ever.

Back home I read a paperback and read.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Work life

These past few weeks, I've been working part-time at a fairly known Japanese retailer. The place sells every household item and daily essentials you could think of, from acacia plates to travel luggages. Think Bed Bath and Beyond blended with UNIQLO, but a tad more fancy. With that in mind, it's tough for me to remember every single product we have in stock, and explain them to customers.

My daily tasks involve stock replenishment, restocking items, folding clothes when I'm in the garment section, cashier protocol, carrying heavy boxes on delivery day, and just being on the sales floor to interact with customers. As a rule, we treat them with respect and the best kindness we could produce. When it's raining we provide customers a shopping bag cover to protect their items from getting wet, and usually we tape the handles of the bag together to keep the grip secure. For pens among little items we shove inside a small envelope. Everything we do, we ensure they get what they want in the most sincere way possible.

Ironically the staff is mostly Chinese, which took me aback a bit. Not that I have anything against it. I'm just wondering why it's staffed by only one race. Either way, all I'm there for is to do my work and at the end of the day I go straight home without any other words. I talk to my coworkers, but only at a minimum. We share a few laughs and get the job done. No other wasteful movements.

The company is minimalistic, they avoid standing out in any way, and their products are utilitarian. Nothing is there to stand out; they're just made to fulfill their purpose. That's the point of the company, and could be one of the reasons of their success.

My days here are extremely dull and monotonous. Easygoing lullabies flow from the ceiling speakers on repeat the whole day, drifting me to sleep. Coworkers blurt at me to do certain tasks, tell me how I'm doing things wrong, and never give me any acclaim or appreciation. They're exceptionally nice to customers, but are pretty demanding to inexperienced workers. Oftentimes I'd say to myself I'm only doing what you told me to do.

I think that's what society isn't doing enough of: appreciation.

Appreciation. That's it.

We demand so much, that sometimes when they're fulfilled, we take it for granted. Nobody ever came up to me and said, "Hey, you're doing a real great job so far. Keep it up." People sometimes overlook the fact that these simple words can give others an incentive to do better.

Face it. That's reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Waning College Feeling in Adagio

I'm stuck.

I've come to the point in the semester where I can only countdown the days till graduation. Even if I start to develop feelings for a person, I'd only a have about a month to be with her. Even if I make new friends, I wouldn't be able to spend another three or four years with them. There's nothing much I can do at this point. I can only appreciate the friends I currently have. I can't start a new club, a can't join a new club, nor can I explore more around campus. College for me is slowly coming to a close. It's a lonely feeling, don't you think?

And then soon you're off to the real world.

"I really like you, honey," she said.

Right then and there I was confused.

"I think you like me too much," I said.

"Me?" she smiled down. "That's true."

How can you tell whether you two are meant for each other?

Off in the distance, birds chirp as the rainclouds slowly drift above, covering the sun.

A breeze hits, followed by tiny droplets of water. It hits my blue raincoat.

She dreams about me, and so do I.

Let's close our eyes, and think for a second. Let's live in the tempo of Adagio. When will our time come?

Tell me.