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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Did You Know #4: Sleeping On the Job Is Okay In Japan

I have fallen asleep at work - not lately - but I have.

I have sleep apnea, but I have been using a C-pap machine for a number of years... and now, getting 5-1/2 hours of sleep a night is perfect for me. I never yawn during the day or evening...

But... I didn't always have sleep apnea... that was just me putting on a few pounds. I always did snore heavily, though. Beats me how I ever kept a girlfriend.

I have even fallen asleep in Japan when I worked as a junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme back between 1990-1993.

In Japan, sleeping on the job is seen as acceptable, as the society tends to view it as “exhaustion” from working too hard.

Uh… not me… in Japan I was exhausted from:
  • drinking too damn much and getting too little sleep;
  • or screwing my brains out with my girlfriend or girlfriend of the night and getting too little sleep;
  • or because I suffered from insomnia (something like 10 hours sleep over a week) - I'm not sure why I had insomnia - probably concerned about something about women;
  • or because I was exhausted from drinking too much.
I drank a lot in the early days of my three-year stay in Japan - which is why I wrote it twice up above. I wasn't even close to being an alcoholic, as I did not drink everyday... but in social situations in Japan where I was nervous, I imbibed more than my fair share. That's what I figure nowadays is why I did what I did back then. I don't really drink at all nowadays.

Towards the end of my three-year stay in Japan, aside from a few good-by parties, I was was quite sober, as it was way better to be straight when I was around my girlfriend, Noboko.

What I’m getting at, however, is that I was never exhausted at work in Japan because of the amount of work I had to do.

I’m pretty sure using the excuse of not getting my work done because I was too tired from screwing the boss’ daughter would not get me any promotions. I’d have to marry her first.

As for me... I recall a few times there would be a teacher's meeting at 8AM in the teacher's lounge... and I'd have to attend, because for those moments they erroneously thought enough of me to consider me a 'teacher' and their equal.

The meeting would drone on and on and on and on in Japanese, which is perfectly fine because I'm in Japan—but I don't understand enough Japanese to stay alert after so much sex or drinking or drinking while having sex or having sex while drinking—I exaggerate... I prefer one at a time. And I prefer to do one of those things sober.

Anyhow... I would put my head down slowly on my desk... just to rest my dry contact lenses in my eyes... and if I didn't wake myself up from my loud snoring, I would get a tap on the shoulder some 45 minutes later whereby I had to extricate the side of my face from a pool of my own drool (I hope it was my own drool), and get ready to team teach with some lucky JTE (Japanese teacher of English).

Back in those days, I did not have the smell of booze seeping from my pores the next day. I always had a shower et al, but I think it was the healing powers of piping hot o-cha (green tea) that was served to me by the female teachers that saved my bacon.

(I did have booze - rum & coke - ooze from my pores when back in Toronto, when I'd go to the gym in the early morning after swilling back enough booze to kill a rhino.)

Yes... yes... I'll have some more o-cha. But dammit, those morning meetings were a real drag.

I'm pretty sure me snoring like a JET plane with asthma while the Principal tries to rally the troops was not socially acceptable.

I never did this, and hindsight is 20/20, but if someone had told me, I might have later purchased the Principal a very expensive bottle of whiskey to apologize for my insensitive snoring/sleeping.

Yes, sleeping on the job in Japan is acceptable, provided it's because you are tired from overwork.

Gaijin like me probably had no such leeway in Japan. If I was ever complained about, I never heard about it, as my bosses at the Ohtawara-shi Board of Education were pretty damn good to me.

Fair warning. Fall asleep at work (as a gaijin) - buy some apology booze asap!

Andrew Joseph

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