Wish I Could Say
essay, Feb. 2019
When I was a college student, I had a part-time job trying to get people to sign up for internet service provider contracts. It was only a summer job.
Despite that the company I worked for seemed a bit shady, many students applied for this job because it paid decent money. Some of them were even college students at exclusive all-female university, and others at famous national universities.
Every morning we gathered in a small office, and the president told us where to work: at a train station; in the middle of downtown area; in front of the department store; etc. We always worked in high foot-traffic areas with lots of people.
“Right now you can have a free trial for 3 months!”
I raised my voice much higher than usual to reach it as far as I could. But no one stopped. I expected this, but this job was harder than I’d thought. Even after an hour had passed, still no one stopped to listen. It was a sizzling summer day. I was already thirsty and sweaty.
Still, I had to put on a big smile. I shouted so much that it sounded as if I were crying.
It was a terrible day. We still didn’t have many contracts. It was a day when we all were irritated by the summer heat and our president’s pressure. One of our colleagues, a young female college student, told our manager: “I do not want to eat lunch at Matsuya every day.”(1)
Our manager, Mr.S., was the company’s only full-time employee. He was always with us to manage the contracts. Every day for lunch he took us to Matsuya, a reasonably-priced franchise restaurant. He always ate a large size curry rice(2).
Mr.S. was at a loss for words. He didn’t reply to her. He just made an uncomfortable facial expression and took us to a soba restaurant(3).
My colleague, that college girl, enjoyed the meal and said “this is good, right?” She thought she spoke for everyone ,but not for me.
Even after I graduated from college, got a job, got married, and had three children, whenever I see Matsuya, I still remember Mr. S. feeling uncomfortable by my colleague’s words. Now, I finally understand the plight for Mr. S., working hard, with no opportunity for advancement, doing the same thing daily, but for what I can only imagine was not much money. I can hardly believe that working for such a company in a small office would give him a luxurious life. That’s why he always ate curry rice in Matsuya.
Mr.S., who smiled towards people passing by, never smiled at us. He always had poorly colored lips, and was always a bit grumpy and tired. I never enjoyed my job or working with him.
Nevertheless, whenever I am reminded of these days and Mr. S., I fondly recall Matsuya’s curry rice. If I could go back in time, I’d tell Mr. S. that I understand his situation and I’d try to cheer him up by joining him for Matsuya curry rice and enthusiastically telling everyone that it was cheap and delicious.
1. Actually Matsuya is famous for beef rice bowl (Soy-sauce based beef over rice).
2. Curry is originally from India, but “curry rice” is from Japan. We think of curry rice as home-cooking, but these days there are many professional curry rice restaurants.
3. Soba is a major Japanese noodle made of Soba wheat. Compared to other Japanese noodles (Ramen, Udon, etc.), it’s very healthy!
Mom of three kids and writer. Writes essays in the midnight dressingroom.