6.17.2010

The Art of Passive-Aggressiveness

After living and working in Japan for almost 3 years there's one key skill that I have learnt and continue to master. And no I'm not talking about bowing or eating with chopsticks. I am talking about the Art of Passive-Aggressive-ism or Passive-Aggressiveness.

Before I came to Japan I was an argumentative and confrontational human being. I would say any and everything to any and everyone. I didn't care. I called it being blunt, being real. In actuality I was a flaming bitch. And to some extent I still am. But with this new-found skill I have learnt how to still be a bitch without getting a tump in the face or burnt up with acid.

In the weeks leading up to my departure to Japan I was required to do additional training to help me to "adjust" to life in Japan. I was told that my outspokenness and "aggressive" attitude might be misconstrued as negative in the land of the rising sun. I took it all in with a grain of salt. I wasn't about to compromise my integrity just to appease a bunch of unnecessary people. I'd be polite to those in power but aside from that it was either love me or leave me be.

Then I got to Japan and settled into my job and life in the countryside (to some extent). I had still not yet encountered this over-sensitivity I was told to be wary of. Until one day I get to work (less than 5 minutes) late and the Japanese English teacher at my school informs me that I need to take an hour out of my vacation if I'm going to be late for school. I, of course, proceed to ask her questions like:

  • How would I know that I was going to be less than 5 minutes late until I was less than 5 minutes away from work and realised that it was already 8:30 since I do have to drive for almost 45 minutes to get to school. Which means that when I left my house I wasn't late but due to unforseen circumstances I ended up getting to school after the bell rang.
  • And fine let's say I am driving and realise that 'oh shit I'm gunna be late!' wouldn't it make me even later if I was to pull over and call my office to inform them that I might be 2 minutes late for school?
  • Not to mention when I asked her if I'd be able to leave school 55 minutes early since I'd still have 55 minutes left of my hour vacation left as I was only 5 minutes late.
Of course she was completely clueless. As far as she was concerned it was simple. If you're late, no matter how many minutes, you take an hour vacation leave and sit at your desk and do work. I, of course, thought this woman was out of her damn mind and at that early stage tried to infuse logic into her ridiculous suggestion....to no avail. Needless to say, my blood pressure went up and I still didn't take the vacation leave. It was stressful to say the least.

However, as I began to observe their behaviour and mannerisms I quickly learnt "the Japanese way". That is, tell them and show them what they want to see and hear. Then do whatever the fuck you want.

For example when I had to endure excruciating days at the office doing absolutely nothing. And then on top of that they wouldn't allow us to go home, or read books, or watch movies. So I killed time by doing puzzles and playing games while pretending to study Japanese and plan lessons. It worked wonders. They left me alone because I portrayed an illusion of being busy and I got to do whatever the fuck I wanted to (except for go home :-S)

So that now, 3 years deep in "the Japanese way" I can almost automatically switch to passive-aggressive mode. If a teacher/person pisses me off I find some way, unknown to them at the time, to get back at them. Confrontations are futile. These people are immune to reason.

Lately I've taken to bringing gifts for everyone except for the person who pissed me off, eating all the snacks in the office and other simple things that I know will get to them without being traced directly back to me.

It keeps my blood pressure down and gives me something to snicker about when I sit in the office by myself. Oh the joys of living and teaching in Japan!

iNi

am a passive-aggressive NINJA!

NadYa Dee