Some people are just dicks in any country

I am generally quite careful not to post anything work related on here, but this particular quote from an internal corporate employee survey I’m translating was just too choice, and utterly anonymous and unidentifiable.

I am opposed to foreigners in the front office. Since it is difficult to convey minor nuances of Japanese within the company it must be even more difficult for customers to understand when conversing with them. I have received two whole claims about this.  (One claim said they could not understand what they were saying, and the other said, a foreigner huh? A Japanese would be better.)

For contrast, here is an excerpt from a customer survey from some rich asshole country club in the US that was forwarded to me a few weeks ago.

I am personally upset about the use of the Mexican labor on the golf
course. I understand you have contracted, and it is the contractors
who are responsible for hiring, but the club is responsible for hiring
the contractor. We get letters about “responsibility” and “right and
wrong,” well, I think the club management had better look at itself.
If all these workers are legal, then I will apologize, but I very much
doubt they are legal. This is a very poor example of judgment and
sends the wrong message. I know I am not the only one that thinks like
this, and if my concerns are unfounded, then the club should issue an
explanation and correct the image.

It’s well worth remembering that there is a certain extent of xenophobia in any country, and I believe that suffering from it firsthand when traveling or living abroad-such as the minor (or major in some unfortunate cases) annoyances that many of us have experiences in places like Japan-is actually a rather good learning experience, which can make one more sensitive to despicable attitudes back home that one may have overlooked before.

2 thoughts on “Some people are just dicks in any country”

  1. Great post. I agree 100%. It’s really an eye opener when I’ve been annoyed by some sort of situation involving my foreignness (usually mildly annoyed) in Japan and then see the same thing happen to my wife in the English speaking world.

  2. I agree that both of the authors are as described in the article title, but the arguments they’re presenting are quite different.

    The second letter is about whether or not the workers are illegal immigrants; this is a campaign issue in the US right now. The implication is that someone entered the country illegally and therefore stole a job from a “real” American. The dickism comes from the author assuming that Mexican = illegal. But the key is where the author says “If all these workers are legal, then I will apologize”, which indicates his/her problem isn’t necessarily the fact that they’re foreign, just that they’re potentially illegal. So I wouldn’t exactly call this one xenophobia.

    Even the first letter is understandable, and given what you’ve included in the post, seems like a perfectly logical thing to say (except for maybe the last sentence). The issues are language-related; conveying minor nuances of Japanese isn’t something foreigners are known to be good for. We all know how heavy Japanese can get if you’re supposed to be serving customers. Asking customers to “just deal with it” isn’t providing a proper level of service — that has little to do with xenophobia and a lot to do with meeting customer needs. Specifically, the need to communicate quickly, effectively, and… politely. Business and communication are so heavily intertwined that attempting to write off workplace language issues as “xenophobic” is probably jumping to conclusions too hastily.

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