Currently, I’m working for a small private company as an English instructor for Japanese adults as well as children. I do enjoy the job, but must confess that my boss’s lack of tact is less than inspiring, and at times, quite dismal. This is a small tidbit from the exciting office life this past week.
“Hmm?” I forced the sound from my lips as consciousness caught up with me.
I had been sitting at my laptop for about three straight hours before she decided to acknowledge that there was another person in the room. This was pretty typical. It wasn’t the kind of natural conversation that emerged between two human beings who needed reassurance that the bland motions of work hadn’t completely turned them into machines—by now, leisure chat like this was practically part of the work curriculum as far as I was concerned. She spent most of the workday poring over CNN world news articles, and whenever she needed to understand something about the world in English, I was right there to explain it. I wanted to tell her that maybe she should study harder, but I had a feeling that voicing such a comment would probably land me both a pink slip, and a flight home the next day.
She repeated her words. “You need a cool head to run a business,” she said, “don’t you think?”
Who the hell was she talking to? I asked myself silently, almost glancing around the room for some other person that I hadn’t noticed participating in our conversation. I tried to figure out if the question was meant as a means to test me, and was instantly reminded of what it was like to be in a serious romantic relationship. I’ve never really learned how to answer that kind of question, mostly because the few important women in my life have taught me that the right answer is not only the wrong one, but also the answer the provokes more questioning. Over the past 5 years I’ve learned to shut up really well; my fifth grade teacher would be proud.
The situation caused me to briefly entertain the idea of grabbing a mirror, fearing that maybe she had missed something about herself the last time she’d looked. Although I had only met her a few months prior to this interrogation, I could personally testify that she—as a business owner herself—did not have a “cool head”.
While the rhetoric dressed itself up to be simple yet profound, I sat there wondering if I should attribute the error in logic to her ego, or some other misguided philosopher who had never served under her before.
I decided that the answer was probably a mixture of both before I blurted out, “…Uhh yea. Definitely.”
Having settled the matter, we both turned in unison toward our illuminated screens, resuming our machine-selves, and filled the room with the sound of incessant typing.