The following story is an important example of how one person’s holiday cheer can be another’s form of abuse in the workplace.
Setsubun is a Japanese holiday celebrating the transition from winter to spring. Like with many of Japan’s more traditional holidays, different parts of the country sometimes have their own customs or ways of celebrating
However, in this modern fast-paced world people often find themselves transplanted in other parts of the country for employment, resulting in a domestically multicultural work place, and RocketNews24 is no exception.
Take our ace reporter Seiji Nakazawa. Born and raised in Osaka he would always celebrate Setsubun with the long-standing local custom of eating a ehomaki sushi roll. This is an extravagantly stuffed sushi roll that is meant to be eaten while facing a lucky direction. This year the lucky way to face while chowing down was north-by-northwest.
However, despite efforts to promote ehomaki all over Japan, it is not quite as widely embraced in places like Tokyo as in its home of Kansai. So you can imagine Seiji’s dismay when he entered the RocketNews24 office, only to find that no one was eating ehomaki.
Seiji asked what was up, but everyone just shrugged their shoulders and said they don’t really eat ehomaki. However, being the cunning investigative journalist that Seiji is, he could read between the lines.
Everyone here was simply too busy with work to enjoy an ehomaki, and they were all just putting on a brave face.
Seiji knew what had to be done, and he ran off to the nearest convenience store.
Returning with three hearty ehomaki, Seiji had expected to see everyone cheer his arrival at the mere sight of his massive sushi rolls. But that wasn’t the case. Instead everyone sat huddled away in their own workspaces… as if they were intentionally avoiding him.
“Gosh, everyone is working so hard,” thought Seiji. “They don’t even notice me. The only way to bring happiness into all of their miserable lives is to feed them the sushi directly so they can still stay on schedule.”
And so, with the intention of shoving Setsubun cheer down everyone’s throat, Seiji first walked up to P.K. Sanjun’s desk.
Seiji: “Hey, P.K.”
P.K.: “What’s up?”
P.K.: “Wai-wait a minute! I’ll eat it… Just let me hold ichughghghg…”
Seiji: “Look what I got!”♫
Seiji: “Happy Setsubun!!!”
Mr. Sato: “Wha!? What are you doiughghghg…”
Seiji: “Hey, Hattori? I got a question…”
Seiji: “How do you like THIS!?”
Go: “Ughh…Stop! I don’t even like thiughghgh…”
Takahashi looked so engrossed in his work, Seiji didn’t even announce himself.
Takahashi: “Aghgghg… This is humiliatinghghghghg…”
After it was all over, Seiji was confused. None of his coworkers looked happy, especially Go who was crying a little.
Go: “Seiji, I really don’t like eho-maki. It’s got lots of dried gourd and other things I hate stuffed inside…
“PUT THAT DOWN!”
Go: “What you did was a form of harassment.”
Seiji: “What!? I’m not the type of guy who would…”
Go: “I know, I know. I learned at a management seminar that harassers almost never realize they are harassers. They often think they are entertaining everyone, or doing something good for the staff. However, what you did was clearly ehomaki harassment or ehohara for short…
“I said put that…ugh, never mind.”
Go: “Anyway, I’m going to give you a warning this time. But if you ever bring vinegared rice within an inch of anyone’s face again, you’ll leave me with no option but to take disciplinary action.”
This gave Seiji some food for thought. Although we are often told to treat others as you would like to be treated, in an increasingly diverse workplace that is not always golden advice.
We have to be extra sensitive to people who might have different preferences and not appreciate a girthy sushi roll crammed down their gullets. In this way your company too can have a safe and productive Setsubun season. Happy holidays!
[ Read in Japanese ]