Saturday, September 1, 2012

Organizing time

We had a four hour orientation meeting today.  It was a very zen experience.  Questions answered that I never would have asked and things were clarified that I had never thought to consider.  They gave us rules and strict protocol but told us we should disregard them if the situation required otherwise.  

What can we assume is commonsense?  How much can we assume that we can trust one another to behave in an appropriate manner?  What can we assume another person comprehends?  Perhaps the answer is that we should not assume any of these things and that is why we have four hour meetings that seem incredibly redundant but in reality just ensure that there are no assumptions.  We should come to rehearsal and not pretend to be sick.  We should bring a pencil and it should not be hard lead because it will dent the paper.  We will get paid to be there but not if we aren't there.  They will pay for our transportation but only if we are working for them.  So many things can fall through the cracks of translation and cultural expectation and I suppose it is important for redundancy to catch them.  It tests my patience and my desire to own my time and be in control of my time.  But that is something that people here seem to relinquish quite frequently in favor of the group task.  I've seen this done on my behalf and the behalf of others numerous times.  Despite the incredible level of organization and communication redundancy that occur, and despite the expectation that rules will be followed or you may risk offense, I have been struck by how flexible the plans can become if something does not happen as originally outlined.   People and the group are the most important thing in the end.  Maintaining good relationships is important and these rules and organization are to help those relationships have some foundation and common ground.  They are about respect in a way.  And because this is so important, it should be clearly outlined at the risk of redundancy.  Perhaps there are other reasons for this type of meeting.  I'm sure there are other reasons of which I haven't thought.

In America, it would be far more to the point, far more would be assumed, and the outcome would be sloppier.  Perhaps people would get offended in the places where rules were not firmly established and they would gripe about it or swallow it and wonder why it bothered them.  It's just a different way of group operation.  And it is one that I need to get used to.  I wonder if I will have a self by the time I leave Japan.

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