Earlier this week, I started reading the first lines of Amélie Notomb’s “Fear and Trembling” (Stupeur et tremblements). Set in a prestigious company in Japan , the main character just signed a one-year contract as a translater, beginning at the bottom of the corporate ladder.
Mister Haneda was senior to Mister Omochi, who was senior to Mister Saito, who was senior to Miss Mori, who was senior to me. I was senior to no one.
It made me instantly think of the environment I was stuck in. Let me explain…
Due to a serious technical problem, I’ve had to embark on a different ship than the one where I am usually stationed. The vessel where I have unluckily been sent to during the repair work is famous in the company for being ruled by old-school style crew members – mainly hostesses who have been there / done that for the last twenty years at least. They’ve worked on board ferries which don’t even exist anymore. They’ve partied when alcool replaced water on the mess tables. They’ve worked with people who are sometimes dead now! Most of them are 5 years away from retirement. They feel they own the company – or at least the ship they’re on. Well after all, they’ve known the purser when he/ or she was a simple host. Some of them have even had intimate relationships with officers or captains!
All this made them THE mother figures of the company’s Who’s Who! The legends. A spiritual not married Mary – not virgin either.
In a previous post written last year, I had mentioned my fears about these old crew members ruling the pack. The dominant females.
Although they lack in education or respect, they have an in-depth knowledge of their jobs and the company. Still, now that I am slightly more experienced, I do not fear them anymore . And I sometimes take pity on them. They sadly maintain the pathetic old pattern of the woman who rule but does not officially own control. They might be friends / or sleep with the powerful ones but very few of them really ever fill in higher positions.
To communicate, they gather in a closed circle and whisper, their eyes checking behind the shoulder of their counterpart.
They rarely look at you directly. And to be spoken to, a third person will be used so that you become a “she”. A third person. Saying “you” would mean you have an identity. Hence, a name. How long does it take for you to become a individual, I don’t know.
Many times during the week, I’ve studied these wolves. And many times it made me want to become a cat. To claw and to spit. And to make an eerie aggressive sound as I make my whiskers vibrate… Cat fight!
*I am not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I’m a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Ricky Gervais