The trap


The day I arrived in the office it was obvious that they had no idea what to do with me. I was in my 20s with barely enough experience to rely on. I was hoping for some kind of training, but their training was trial by fire. They threw me into situations without telling me what they expected and, of course, like clockwork I failed. Then they blamed me for my failure. I was too young and naive to understand that it was not my problem. It was theirs for not training me properly. Had I known that back then, it would have saved me so much hardship. But in my ignorance, I believed that I was somehow inferior and tried so hard to make up the difference.


Once, we all went to New York City and I was suddenly told that I was to become the director of something or other. That was all fine and good but I still had no idea what I was supposed to do. Before that, I was left in the office completely alone with no direction whatsoever. It was as if I were hired on a whim. For three months or more I just found my own things to do. I straightened the filing cabinets. I built the website. I did whatever I could do keep myself busy. In New York, I was supposed to learn how to be a manager of the band. There were so many rules that I didn't know about. If I had been born into Japanese society I might have been able to understand the rules. I am American and my subconscious mind is deeply rooted in individualism. The guy who was directly over me , unfortunately he passed away a few years ago, had the audacity to tell me that I lacked “sense”. He said , “It's like cooking either you have the innate ability to do it or you don't .” It was a preposterous statement because cooking is something that anyone can learn if they have the opportunity to study it. There's no mystical inner sense. There's only training and study or trial and error. I was working on trial and error because I had nothing else.


In New York City there were many things happening at the same time, and I did my best to understand what was expected of me. I met some great people along the way. Our driver, for example was an amazing character. He had many high-level martial arts certifications . In his home country it seemed he also had a license to kill. He himself was the most gentle of giants. One day we took the band to some venue and was supposed to wait in the car. While we were waiting, he pulled out a guitar and played some songs for me. We had a blast listening to his music and talking. Unfortunately, we talked so much that we didn't notice the artists had exited the venue and were waiting for the car to pick them up. It only took a few seconds for us to recognize our error. We pulled up to the place got them in the car and took them where they had to go. To my handlers, I had committed a horrible sin. This was the nature of my bungles.


The main manager did not like the fact that I was there and wanted to see me gone. He made every effort to sabotage my work. I don't really understand what his problem was. Perhaps even he didn't understand. One day we were supposed to put together DAT tapes to send back to Tokyo. They were recordings for a major radio show that the artist was doing. I had no idea how the tapes were supposed to be grouped. That guy knew but wouldn't tell me. He only barked at me like a military drill sergeant and pointed to a box and said do it. I insisted that he help me. He let out a big sigh and agreed to help. While we were arranging the tapes, the artist asked me to get some obscure thing from a very far away grocery store. While I was gone, the manager had finished the job. He looked at me the way someone looks at another human being that they despise and barked “check it.” I opened the box that contained the tapes and found that everything was in disarray. In my pure and naive mind I thought that it was an opportunity. I took the garbled box of tapes back to him and said , “I don't know what happened but the tapes are a mess. It's a good thing we found this before it went to Tokyo . Let's fix it together.” He looked at me again with utter disdain and said , “Why don't you apologize to me ?” I didn't understand at all what he meant. Why should I apologize to him for something I had not done? I was doing my job with all sincerity. I wanted things to be right and I didn't mind working hard to achieve that goal. "Who did I ask to do the job?" He said. I was fed up with his garbage attitude so I responded with all snark, "Who did the job?" That only made him more angry.


He shouted at me again and demanded that I apologize. He claimed I was making excuses like a typical American. Eventually it escalated to the point where we were both yelling at each other. I responded with the same emotion that he was giving me. The next thing I knew, we were squaring up and he was in my face saying,“Oh so you wanna hit me. Let's fight if you're man enough.” I so very much wanted to take him up on his offer. I knew that I could destroy him if I wanted to. However, I also knew that he had set a trap. He did not agree with me being there. I was one of two foreigners working in the company. I was the only one that did not understand Japanese at all. That wasn't my fault. It was the responsibility of the people who hired me to train me to do my job but they did not. If I had fought that guy then I would have most certainly been fired immediately. So, I strategically conceded. I feigned an apology and begged for forgiveness. The band leader observed everything from the sidelines. He was very disapproving of the way I had been treated and insisted that the manager return to Japan. It was a defeat for him.


Although I stayed in New York, at that time, I was still woefully unprepared. Not only was I not trained but I was also operating in a foreign language that I did not understand. I believe that I am quite clever and if I were in an environment where I could fully communicate I would have understood and figured out what I needed to do. Instead, I was in an environment where I did not have language to rely on and the only way that I could figure out what was going on was through observation, trial, failure, and learning. It's a great understatement for sure to tell you that it sucked ass.

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