Because of uncertainty about my life’s path, I spend a fair amount of time with ‘what ifs’.
Recently, a short trip into central Tokyo gave me the opportunity to ponder a bit, what if I worked in the heart of city?
I live in Tokyo, but in what could be considered the suburbs. Where I work is even sometimes thought to be another prefecture, though it is still Tokyo.
I go in the opposite direction of the city centre at rush hour, so I’m never squeezed up against anyone, fighting to maintain the illusion of personal space by defiantly struggling to read a book or use my smartphone.
I also work in a school that’s quite removed from any commercial centre. No business district, no high rises, no lunch specials in dozens of restaurants, no lunch crowd.
The crowds I saw on my outing had mostly men wearing variations of light blue shirts and grey trousers.
Nowadays, there’s a lot of talk about increasing the number of women in the workforce.
There were many women too. Walking in pairs or small groups, the kind of causal but slightly urgent walk one assumes on a timed lunch break. Many of the women carried little bags on their forearms. The bigger, real work bags left tucked inside some drawer or locker or sitting on a desk.
Most of the men carried no bags. Their salaryman bags no doubt waiting patiently to be picked up in the evening to accompany their owners on the commute home.
Obviously, these things are not work. They are just made up frills around the edges of work. But I felt that these things form an important part of the sense or scene of work in a city.
Even though it felt removed from my current reality, it was nostalgic in some ways. Reminded me of a time I worked in downtown Kingston. When I was one of those women in a small group heading to a cookshop or sometimes a real restaurant. I enjoyed that part of work back then, even though it wasn’t work itself.
Still no clarity about my calling, but it looks like I like lunchtime at work. In a city. Now on to figuring out what to do before and after lunchtime.