13 April, Kaeruko Akeno

文字数 3,189文字

Tanaka-san Wants to Go to the Office


I have something to tell you, Tanaka-san. Tonight, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been wanting to say for a while now. You have to stop going to the office. On March 9, exactly thirty-six days ago, our office announced a work-from-home order, before other businesses did. We’ve been allowed to stay at home where the risk of infection is low. So why do you insist on going to work? You went in, complaining that the screen on your laptop was too small, on the second day of the order. Then you called

me

in to work because you couldn’t connect to the Internet. Stay the f*ck at home! Just think back to 3.11, will you? The earthquake cut off transportation routes, and radioactive material was falling from the sky over Tokyo. But everyone still had to go to work. Afterwards, management put in place a system for telecommuting, with the thought of putting workers’ lives first the next time. But you—on the same day nine years later—you went into the office to stamp your damn

hanko

-stamp on invoices. On April 1, you messaged, “We need to throw a welcome party for the new employees, especially during these times.” Is the Corona paying you a salary or something? If I was one of the new hires, I would’ve reported your power harassment to the world on social media. Don’t bring them into this. You can’t stand to be at home alone—that’s your problem. Ever since your wife left you three years ago, you have done everything you could to fill the void. You piled on more work for the staff, so they’d have to stay and work overtime. You think you’ll see friends when you go to the office even now, I bet. But that’s an illusion. You don’t have any friends, and didn’t before the coronavirus, either. Everyone on your team hated your high-handedness, and I’d be at the top of that list. In fact, I put in my letter of resignation on the day Japan announced its first coronavirus case. The Boss talked me out of quitting, saying, “We’ll be working from home soon. You’ll be able to keep clear of Tanaka.” But, even from a distance, you kept messaging me to Zoom-drink with you. I hated myself for not being able to refuse. There were times that I wished you would get the virus. But if that were to happen, it would be the health center or the hospital that would suffer. So, I’ve had to pray for the health of someone I detest. Over the thirty-six days that I’ve kept you company, I discovered something: my co-workers have been Zoom-drinking without me. Turns out I don’t have any friends, either. It seems I’ve been alone all along. Which is why I can’t have you dying on me. So, stop going to the office! You can print out your documents at home. Stand up to the loneliness and survive this. You’ll be eating

yakitori

in a crowded, smoke-filled joint again soon enough. I’d say in a month. I’ll even go with you, all right? I promise, so—Stop going to the office.


Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Kaeruko Akeno
Born in Tokyo. Made her literary debut in 2009 with

Matatabi

Kiyoko

no

nekodama

(Kiyoko Matatabi’s cat spirit), for which she won grand prize in the 4th Da Vinci Literature Awards.

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