Thursday, November 18, 2010

Workplace humor US-Japan

Back in the previous millennium, during our six-year stint in Japan, Mizuno-san and Kamei-san had accompanied me on a business trip to the US. As we sat in the company cafeteria, my old buddy Paul, who I worked with back in the 1980s, stopped by to say hi.

We shook hands, and I introduced him to my Japanese colleagues. "You work with Collin?" he asked them.

When they replied in the affirmative, he said, "And you're willing to admit it??" The Americans guffawed, but my colleagues were mystified.

Back in Japan some time later, I described this interchange to some other colleagues. Kubo-san, one of the best English speakers in our department, was surprised at this sort of joke. "It is an honor," he said. He meant an honor to work with me. He was completely serious.

Fast forward to the 21st century...

My current boss asked the other day what I was working on, "besides beating on Chris two or three times a day."

I replied in mock exasperation, "You said two or three times a week!"

The reply was immediate: "That was before you moved right across the hall from him! Slacker."

No comments: