Daily Life

Watching from the Window

I’ll never forget how I delighted I was a few decades ago now when I discovered the Japanese term madogiwazoku, literally meaning “the tribe beside the window.”

It’s a derogatory term dating back to the country’s postwar economic miracle heyday and used to refer to the usually older workers who’ve been deemed to be beyond their serviceable peak for the company.

But, either as a reward for services performed, or more likely strict labor laws that make it detrimental for employers to simply dump workers when they’ve outlived their usefulness, the window-side tribe seemed to have fallen by the wayside over the Lost Decades as it has become easier in the public sector to lay off superfluous workers.

But, to the enormous dismay of my pride and ego, I have become a member of the tribe. Part of the problem is a precipitous fall in the amount of profitable work our company receives only to be replaced by mostly menial tasks for which I have become the employee of choice to carry out.

I’m grateful to be employed and remind myself of that when assigned the tasks that I reflexively think as being beneath me. It doesn’t help to have a hostile manager who infers that I am being treated this way due to incompetency and overtly ridicules my efforts (the kind of behaviors that have led to us developing a disastrous employee turnover with a 3-year retention rate of 0%).

Still, I believe the criticism myself now and struggle to come to terms with it. I know I’m wrong because I continue to pass job trials, tests and the like, but I also realize I need to address the fact that I’m aging and not a hire at the peak of their career. Worse still, I’m damaged goods in an era where reputations are perhaps as important as skills when it comes to much of the workplace.

Hmmmm….not a great state. Still, there are worse windows to have to gaze out of than the one I sit in front of. I’m not overly ambitious, but I am proud (hubristic?) and egotistical, so I am driven to prove my worth. Or, more precisely, I want to have as big a wage as I can get with giving back as little as possible an be able to do what I want.

It’s that realization that makes me aware of the need to be grateful for what I have and give back as much as I can.