Empty Suitcase + Wrench
No. 51

Happy New Year! It has been a long time since updating my real life inspired but grossly exaggerated stories. (Thank you very much to the nine people who still visit my blog!) Well, I am still writing poetry, but not very much. I instead write business emails in Japanese a lot.

I am working for in the live tool industry supporting engineers and purchasing wrenches, more wrenches, and other wrench-like parts that I have never seen before in my life. The live tool industry makes tools for cutting or shaping metal, wood, and other industrial substances. Industries such as cars, cellular phones, pots, and everything that we often use need the live tools to create their products.

I am sure it is one of the more important, but overlooked jobs in human history. I am basically now a typical, hard working Japanese office worker who devotes their life to increasing quarterly profits and streamlining mass production; just like my father, who had a serious cerebral hemorrhage last summer. Basically, an easily replaceable human cog in the machine.

The company’s—therefore my—only interest is to generate 1% more profit, so workers and their families don’t later find themselves out in the streets, which are pretty cold now in Chicago. This also allows me to pay my rent and support my death-metal hubby and cat with organic carrots.

It is obvious that this world is completely unlike the one I used to belong to. But in a way, the live tool industry is poetic. I like reading tool holders’ drawings and am amazed how human technology creates the modern world; especially aerospace and military achievements, even stuff used by some terrorists. If people use live tools in appropriate ways, humanity’s quality of life is improved. But if live tools are misused, they can really create some social blow outs.

I feel that I am a well paid student who learns business and technology under professional people. I believe that the knowledge will open up the next big door in my life. After working at this company for six months, I am happy to say I am progressing.

At first, I did not know how to use a wrench (appropriately anyway); however, now I am familiar with nearly any sized wrench— some wrenches are as heavy as my legs— and know which applications they were designed for from the top of my head. In addition, I can read dozens of technical drawings for them and have even purchased seventy eight wrenches last year (for the company, it is not replacing my spatula fetish).

My personal purchasing habits are even improving as a result. Before, I could have bought stuff without looking at its price tags, like my grandmother in a clothing store, or my mother, who would primarily notice of the prices of things from her credit card statement.

However, after learning standard Japanese business practices, I now hunt for discounts. Then I even mentally negotiate the discounts before I decide to order minimum quantities within my budget. Moreover, for the company, I double check that it still makes a profit with the current purchasing price (to get that magic 1%).

I know that I sold my soul to capitalism. I am operating as one of the disposable pawns in a profit-driven chess game, but I am still the “Blueberry Dope-Pusher” when off the clock. I still write stories while listening to “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall like I used to do in college (in a cloud of flatulence I never notice because of my brilliantly placed fingers).

A quick note for 2011: I am ready to submit poems in February and have a small art exhibition in a gallery in Tokyo later this year, though I have not finished painting for it yet. But now you know why I am trying to figure out how to pack seventy eight wrenches into my suitcase.