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Last Day at Work

Posted on 2006/12/22 17:37:41 (December 2006).

[Friday 15th December]
So at last the day had come - my last day in the office, my final day working for that well known software company. Amongst one final flurry of handover meetings I did all the usual last-day-at-the-office type things, like clearing up my desk and handing in ID cards, and going round saying goodbye to people.

I was in a highly productive meeting right up to 5:30, and at 6 just before I left there was a final gathering of my colleagues to say goodbye, again a short speech ensued and so on.

The previous evening's soubetsukai had been a slightly informal affair - organised by one of the guys on the team I don't really know all that well, and with everyone on the team invited. Tonight though I wanted to have a bit more of a low key affair - a chance to say goodbye to just the people I regularly spent time with outside the office. Those people who I'd refer to as "my friend from work" rather than just saying colleague.

For a change from the usual work night out venues - Chofu (area where the office is) or Shinjuku - I decided to invite the chaps to the area around where I live. So after a very quick first drink in Chofu, we got on a train to Daitabashi - the station nearest to our apartment. There's a small street of shops and restaurants there called "Okinawa town", including one particular restaurant I'd been to a few times before. So there we had our first few drinks and nibbles, including of course a couple of Orion beers and a bottle of Awamori (a traditional Okinawan spirit).

From there we headed in the direction of my other nearby station - Sasazuka.

We started off there in a Masako-san's bar (I can never quite remember the name of the bar itself), which also served as a good opportunity to say goodbye to Masako-san, who I'd had a number of chats with over the past few months.

Fellow Englishman Tim was still over from US HQ, and it was great to have him join us on my final leaving do. I've not often used the word ex-pat to describe myself during my time living in Japan, but it seems once I find myself in the company of someone from the same country, a certain amount of the stereotype behaviour that goes along with that epiphet begins to come out. So of course there had been plenty of drinking over the past week, but in addition we'd also explored that strange phenomenon that ex-pats seem to swear a lot more. Possibly this is a combination of voicing the daily trials and tribulations of living abroad, along with the sense of comfort it brings, not to mention the wonderful liberty that comes from knowing nobody around you understands what you're saying.

Let us just say that had the conversation in the bar tonight been televised, the profanity buzzer would have been worn out.

As Tanaka-san lives a fair distance from the centre of Tokyo (more like Yokohama) and Tim had a plane to catch the next day, they both decided to head off in time for the last train (some time between 11 and midnight). So we said our goodbyes then. I'm really determined I'll see both of these fine chaps again, so I tried not to get too upset over the whole thing.

A small group of us - me, David and Shig - were not yet ready to call it a night, so we headed to an izakaya opposite Masako-san's bar (again, the name escapes me). Later on David's wife Megumi-san also joined us, as it was more or less on the way back from her night out.

I'd particularly wanted to go to this izakaya because of the tomato tempura I'd had on a previous visit. Yes, it sounds revolting but I'd found it oddly compelling. Initially when I ordered it the waiter told me it wasn't available any more. Shig, however, had a chat with the guy a bit later on and was very insistent indeed. Sure enough a few minutes later the tomato tempura arrived, and there was much rejoicing.

I don't really recall all the conversation that took place during that evening, I guess it was largely a postmortem of the time we'd spent working together, the highs and the lows etc. We stayed at this place right up until it closed basically - some time around 3:30AM I think. So we left, and a final round of goodbyes ensued - again these are great people and I sincerely hope I will see again in the future, so I tried not to get too emotional over the whole thing.

Then I trotted off home. It was a strange feeling on that short and solitary walk back to the apartment. A sort of "Well, that's it then" feeling which is hard to put into any other words. My career in Japan had, for now at least, officially come to an end, and all that remained was to pack up the flat and head off back to Blighty.

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