Life: A Setember in Retrospect - Part 1

5:49 AM

September..!! Boy, did we have some... good bad stressed times.


It had been the better part of three months. Three whole months of waiting, pacing, and trying not to freak out about my non-existent visa status. I suppose I was partially to blame for not realizing that the visa system had changed so that you could reapply for a new visa three months in advance as opposed to the previous policy of only one month (if you ask me, they were basically begging to always be up to their necks in applications and paperwork with as short a time period as that). But it's not like they send out immigration newsletters or are even a place I particularly like to be in (pre-preface: I HATE the immigration bureau in Japan).

I quit my company job (March) and went to apply for a new visa in May (it was to expire in June), but apparently, I did that in the wrong order. A foreigner quitting their job then applying to renew their stay must ring all sorts of bells in the bureau because after that, I had to send them copies of my passbook (similar to bank statements), so they could check if I had... money..? (I guess??) Then a written explanation on how I would continue on surviving supporting myself in Japan without a job despite being the participant in a marriage. It was weird and completely invasive, and I was completely opposed to doing it until I realized my savings were slowly dwindling away and unemployment checks were almost done running their course (and I do actually enjoy working, so there's another thing).

So the immigration took their sweet-ass time, and another month later, I was finally awarded my first full Spouse Visa (the first two only being 1-year test runs just in case. I guess???). That was mid-August, right before Obon Festival, so even though I'd been asked to work at one conversation school after getting my visa back, I would still have to wait until September before I could get started (which means no yen until October, OUCH). That was a definite no bueno, so I made a leap of faith, away from the Gaijinpots and other publications (and websites) for non-Japanese and went straight for, well, Google for starters. But it eventually led me into the wild world of アルバイト (arubaito)  or part-time work.

The Part-time Nightlife

Part 1: The Interview(s) with the Employer(s)

that's exactly what you think it is and
it's chocolate.

I suppose it's really hard to realize how limited your options are until you look through the job section of or Kansai Scene. It's about 80% English conversation stuff (closer to 90% on Gaijinpot), some part-time but also a lot of full-time ALT jobs. After that, you may find one or two waitress/bar-tending gigs, then a few things for babysitting. And while teaching English is ALWAYS a good way to make money, I am genuinely uncomfortable teaching English in big classes. Especially to big, mostly unwilling classes. I feel like I'm wasting my time, and therefore, don't want to give the 100% that would be necessary for a good English lesson (not that I would be doing much teaching anyway). And unless you have JLPT certification, companies outside of the English ring aren't interested (nothing says fluency like standardized testing, amirite TOEIC? Or Eiken???).

It's a faulty system based 90% on appearance (photos are a must when sending applications) and/or native-ness (esp. English school companies) or 100% on certifications (translation gigs). So much god-damned paper that usually has no bearing on a persons ability to do a job.

So I typed, or something like it, 大阪市内外国人 (Osaka-shinai-gaikokujin-kyujin) which is 'job recruiting foreigners within Osaka City.' I can't say, or type, what I was hoping to find since I'm sure non-Japanese rarely type that into search engines, but I suppose I just wanted some reassurance that companies were aware of non-Japanese trying to outside of the English circle. And a few things popped up, mostly in relation to kitchen or izakaya staff, which is also cool, but I don't really want to handle peoples food. But I noticed a lot of results in the sites BaitoruDotCom and Arubatio-Ex, so I made accounts and started fine-tuning my search techniques on those sites.

And OHHH my sweet baby Buddha. Compared to the small number of jobs I was used to seeing on Kansai Scene, I thought I'd hit some sort of jackpot. Of course, these weren't jobs that were especially for non-Japanese (arubaito are usually for young Japanese while they're still in school or before moving up to join the ranks of the salaryman and OL), but I didn't let that damper my enthusiasm.

With these sites, I was also able to get into the details of the type of work I wanted. Since food handling was mostly out of the question, I decided to look for work in a night club or bar, that way it wouldn't interrupt the sleep pattern I established for my illustration stuff. I also wanted something with flexible hours and work days, so that if, for some inexplicable reason I got a big illustration commission (a girl can dream, can't she~) or a family vacation popped up, I would be able to take off the necessary amount of time, but also be able to jump right back into the part-time job once things got slow again. And you would be surprised at how many bars are so willing to accomodate. And telephone operation companies for that matter.

After reading the deets (pay rate, whether a uniform was required, location, hours of operation, etc.) I applied to 3 places plus a part-time position at Universal Studios Japan since I've always wanted to work at a theme park (I love fun~). And to my surprise, all three wrote back asking for interviews. And this is when I got really nervous. My spoken Japanese level is pretty high, but I've always hated talking on phones because I usually have to ask for clarification a couple times, and I feel like people then doubt that I speak Japanese at all. So I made a point of mentioning in my e-mailed replies that I was a foreigner (though I did it a kind of nonchalant way e.g. I'm a foreigner but I've got all mah papers, yoRoshiKUUU~), to which I thought I would receive a few 'thanks, but no thanks' replies.

But to MY surprise again, they were all totally cool with it. I would, of course, need to bring my visa, but other than that, no further explanations were necessary and all seemed well. And I was going into my first interview in high spirits until I realized it was my first interview in Japanese. Enter freak-out mode.

I forced Shota to sit down with me in mock interviews for hours, trying to come up with as many scenarios as possible where I might be presented with words I wasn't familiar with or times when I couldn't express myself sensibly in Japanese (while I could read 日払い I had no idea how to say it or even if it was decent to bring it up in an interview). Those moments occurred much more often that I would have preferred, so my brain almost went into so-freaked-out-I-just-won't-go-to-the-interview mode. But then my subconscious reminded me that I'm a foreigner in Japan and if I don't go, it will reflect negatively on all other foreigners and one day, when some other poor soul goes in to apply, they'll be confronted by a boss who thinks that all foreigners make interview appointments just to never show up. Yeah, my imagination is waaaay too overactive but I suppose that is why I studied animation. :)

So I decided, for the sake of all the other non-Japanese living in Japan, I should at least show up so that we wouldn't all be tagged as no-shows.

The interview was with a medium-short guy who looked like he was a probably a host not too long ago, and had the craziest teeth that I proceeded to stare at for the entire interview but that were really cute in that quirky way. He explained the basics of the bar, and how often everyone was paid, then gave me the usual run of 'just-met-a-foreigner' questions e.g. 'how long have you been here? why are you here? are you part Japanese (anyone who speaks Japanese beyond a basic level is assumed to be ハーフ half-Japanese)? what part of America are you from?? Oh, I've never heard of that.. (no surprises).' Then he gave me the 'Thanks a lot. I've got a few other interviews so I'll give you a call next week after I make a decision' -line.

From my own perspective, the interview went alright, but at the same, I was sure that I seemed more trouble that I was worth. After I left the interview, I saw another staffer further along the rode who waved and asked how it went. I told her 'I'm pretty sure I didn't get it..' with an 'ah-well' shrug and a tired smile and continued on my way back to the trains.

I hadn't made it home before getting a call to come in for a 'trial-run' on staff, I just needed to bring a black button-down shirt. I can't really describe how genuinely surprised/happy/excited I was to get the job (or the trial at least), and maybe even for some, it seems ridiculous since it's just a part-time job. But even so, it was a huuuuge boost to my confidence as well as a validation of my own level of competence. Not only was I capable of holding a semi-professional, adult level (all my earlier experience was with Japanese kids) conversation, I appeared fluent enough for work at a bar (which is probably 10-20% drink making and 80% talking).

Now I had two part-time jobs, plus 3 more interviews in the next few days, with a level of confidence high enough that I felt like I could walk into Sony Corp, in sneakers no less, and get a job. Of course, I couldn't then, and I can't now, but it sure felt like it. :)

UggHHGGG I would love to continue, but hoooooly Jupiter this post has become much longer than intended. I shall continue on with the rest of the interviews soon and then finally get into the actually working part. So if you read through this, thanks :3 If not, more picture-tastic postscoming soon..!♥


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