June 11, 2005 – Human paper shredder

Tonight I worked the Saturday evening shift alone. Usually there are at least two teachers on late Saturday, but tonight I was working solo. It was just as well – all 4 of my late lessons were empty.

As I have mentioned before, NOVA still pays teachers if no students show up to lessons, however the teachers are expected to find something productive to do in the office. In the past I have had to hand out tissues at the train station, clean the office, tidy the files, or colour kids class training material. Tonight I had a new activity – manually tearing up old comment sheets from former students files. No, we don’t have a paper shredder in the branch.

By about the third hour of trying to avoid paper cuts while tearing up stacks of papers, I started to get a bit grumpy. This is not what I traveled half way around the world to do, and it is not what I spent years in University studying for. After a bit more tearing, I tried to find a positive way of looking at my experience as a human paper shredder. I decided that I could look at the experience in one of two ways:

  1. I am wasting my life and skills by tearing up papers for money
  2. I am getting paid a pretty good amount of money to tear up papers while living in Japan

I decided to go for the second option and get through my shift.

In the evening I met up with all the early shift teachers at the izakaya and did my best to catch up on my drinking. I talked to a former NOVA teacher from Canada who was now working as a foreign recruiter for Japanese companies in Tokyo. He told me that foreign accountants with a CPA could find work in Tokyo for a starting salary of 9 million yen (about $100,000 CAD). I have a university degree with a major in accounting, I just need to get my professional designation.

I really enjoy living in Japan, so it was inspiring to know that there is a way in the future to actually use my university education while staying here. Sounds like a good reason to improve my Japanese!

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