October 9, 2018

"I’d noticed soon after starting the job that whenever I got angry at the same things as everyone else, they all seemed happy."

"If I went along with the manager when he was annoyed or joined in the general irritation at someone skiving off the night shift, there was a strange sense of solidarity as everyone seemed pleased that I was angry too. Now, too, I felt reassured by the expression on Mrs. Izumi and Sugawara’s faces: Good, I pulled off being a 'person.' I’d felt similarly reassured any number of times here in the convenience store."

From the novel "Convenience Store Woman" by Sayaka Murata, which is a fun, very fast read that's both light and deep. The audiobook reader is Nancy Wu, who's fantastic.

I had to look up the word "skiving." It means avoiding work. Another word I learned reading this book is "freeter":
When I was in my early twenties it wasn’t unusual to be a freeter, so I didn’t really need to make excuses. But subsequently everyone started hooking up with society, either through employment or marriage, and I was the only one who hadn’t done either. While I always say it’s because I’m frail, deep down everyone must be thinking that if that’s so, why would I choose to do a job in which I’m on my feet for long periods every day?
Here's the Wikipedia article for "freeter":
Freeter (フリーター furītā) is a Japanese expression for people who lack full-time employment or are unemployed, excluding housewives and students. The term originally included young people who deliberately chose not to become salary-men, even though jobs were available at the time....

If they work at all, freeters often work at convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food outlets, restaurants, and other low paying, low skill jobs....

The Japan Institute of Labor classifies freeters into three groups: the "moratorium type" that wants to wait before starting a career, the "dream pursuing type", and the "no alternative type". The moratorium type of freeter wants to enjoy life, and deliberately chooses not to join the rat race of the Japanese work environment. The dream pursuing type has specific dreams incompatible with a standard Japanese career. The no alternative type could not find a decent job before high school or university graduation in the system called "simultaneous recruiting of new graduates"...
The character in the book doesn't fit any of those 3 categories. She's someone who doesn't feel like a normal person, but feels normal as part of the entity that is the store.

ADDED: Speaking of novels by Japanese authors, the new Haruki Murakami book is out today. Here: "Killing Commendatore." That's what I'll start today. Read with me!

62 comments:

Comanche Voter said...

A Japanese novel using English slang "skiving"? Who knew?

Ann Althouse said...

"English slang"

Well, it's translated, so the question is: What was the Japanese word here? Maybe it was Japanese slang, and the translator is grounded in British English and chose British slang.

It could just be like those translations of Tolstoy novels that have characters calling each other "old chum" or whatever.

Lucid-ides said...

Althouse is my favorite daily "skiving" blog:)

Ann Althouse said...

The OED has "skive" beginning as U.S. "college slang," with the oldest examples from Notre Dame Scholastic. It's now "chiefly Brit. colloq."

Achilles said...

Woah.

Individuals change their behavior to fit into a group.

Crazy.

Is this a woman thing?

If we lived in a country without insane people where humor and cheap sarcasm were appreciated I could get away with the last line without having to type this garbage.

Otto said...

You are truly a scared but smart little girl, always hiding behind your OED.

Henry said...

I have a friend who has mastered the moratorium freeter. He always works at night and on weekends and holidays to increase his pay rate. He lives inexpensively and uses his personal time to play baseball, make music, and take inexpensive trips.

tcrosse said...

skive
transitive verb

skived, skiv′ing
to slice off (leather, rubber, etc.) in thin layers; shave


Darrell said...

Slicing is the long "a" sound. Skiving, in her usage, should be a soft "a," like in "civic."

Darrell said...

Skivvies might be appropriate attire while skiving. Or not.

Inga...Allie Oop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Sylwester said...

Kids, do not put the words skiving or freeter into your high-school yearbooks.

If you do, then you might regret it 30 years from now.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“"If I went along with the manager when he was annoyed or joined in the general irritation at someone skiving off the night shift, there was a strange sense of solidarity as everyone seemed pleased that I was angry too. Now, too, I felt reassured by the expression on Mrs. Izumi and Sugawara’s faces: Good, I pulled off being a 'person.' I’d felt similarly reassured any number of times here in the convenience store."”

Good example of this... the anger that was displayed to Althouse by commenters here when she said she tended to believe Blasey Ford early on and then the happiness and approving comments when she posts things that they agree with. Large groups of like minded people tend to not like it when someone goes against the tide. It’s human nature, not one of our best though.

traditionalguy said...

Downloaded. Can't wait to listen. But right now I am in the middle of Ship of Fools by Tucker Carlson. He reads it too. So far he totally agrees with me on every issue. What a nice person and genius he obviously is.

Darrell said...

1400 women called the FBI in the last couple of months (they say), more like the last couple of weeks (I say), reporting that Bret Kavanaugh raped them. That fact must be mentioned whenever Ford's or Kavanaugh's name is mentioned from now on. Or when "women don't lie" is brought up.

Francisco D said...

Individuals change their behavior to fit into a group.

Social psychologists described something similar as the In group/Out group phenomenon back in the 50's.

Groups tend to become more cohesive the more they share a common enemy or opponent.

MadisonMan said...

If you read Harry Potter, you'd know Skiving. A Skiving Snackbox is a treat that makes you sick, temporarily, so you can get out of something.

Henry said...

Blogger Mike Sylwester said...
Kids, do not put the words skiving or freeter into your high-school yearbooks.

One's a drinking game. The other's a fart.

Seeing Red said...

Misery loves company.

gspencer said...

"Convenience Store Woman" by Sayata Murata,

Does this book comply with the United States - India Treaty on Indian-Owned Convenience Store Proliferation?

gilbar said...

gspencer said...
"Convenience Store Woman" by Sayata Murata,
Does this book comply with the United States - India Treaty on Indian-Owned Convenience Store Proliferation?

i worried the same thing!, but, it's Cool! She did her skiving in a Smart mart in Japan. Because of the disagreements back in the early '40's, Japan is exempt from the USIToIOCSP

Fernandistein said...

Misery loves company.

Somebody could make an aphorism from that!

In Era of Trump's America, Trump changes groups to fit his behavior.

n.n said...

Go along to get along for near-term avoidance of conflicts and reconciliation.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I don't know if I can handle another Haruki Murakami novel. I read A Wild Sheep Chase, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, What I Think About When I Think About Running, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman and Kafka on the Shore. What I remember is that the fiction is too mystical for me, and it's a fair amount of work to follow the plots. I'm getting too old for that. I did like the running book, and the short stories are more digestible. I have been meaning to get around to reading After the Quake.

glenn said...

Explication of the title: it’s organizational behavior.

Mike said...

fyi - First name of the author is Sayaka (as opposed to Sayata)

rhhardin said...

I have, but have not read, Natsume Soseki _Botchan_; and _I am Cat_, bought on the recommendation of Radio Japan long ago.

rhhardin said...

They're certainly playing up the hurricane. Interview with a guy who's never been in a hurricane before, about how he's preparing. Huge and devastating anticipated.

Leslie Graves said...

Are you going to read or audio "Killing Commendatore"? I just got the audible version but I'm undecided.

n.n said...

This is surely another Seinfeld episode... If you're one of us, you will eat it.

John Christopher said...

I listened to this audiobook also, so must point out the author's first name is Sayaka.

Althouse, what speed do you use for audio? I'm a 1.75 listener.

Almaron Dickinson said...

I just wanted to respond to the mention of Nancy Wu as the narrator. That got my attention because I've listened to her narration of the Mary Janice Davidson "Undead" series of books about Betsy the Minnesota vampire queen and designer shoe aficionado. Ms. Wu is indeed a wonderful narrator!

EDH said...

MadisonMan said...
If you read Harry Potter, you'd know Skiving. A Skiving Snackbox is a treat that makes you sick, temporarily, so you can get out of something.

Early I commented about how vomiting on oneself used to be promoted as rape repellant.

Oso Negro said...

You can get pretty far with conformity.

M.K. Popovich said...

re. Educated by Tara Westover, the e-book is $3.08 US at Amazon.com ($3.99 Cdn. at Amazon.ca), read with Althouse, save 10 bucks

Christy said...

Downloaded it. Loved some of his earlier work. Thanks for the heads up.

Ann Althouse said...

“Are you going to read or audio "Killing Commendatore"? I just got the audible version but I'm undecided.”

I get both, but I mostly do books on audio while talking my long walks. I have the text for highlighting and possible blogging. I read a lot of news text, so it’s better for me to do books on audio. Forces me to read the whole thing and not jump around or slim.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the spelling correction on the author’s name.

n.n said...

#MeToo

D 2 said...

A Japanese book
Sits forever on my shelf.
Poems are way too long.

Books poems magazines:
None of them I really need
Althouse blogs for me.

You say: "Read with me!"
So demandingly, I hear:
Cynthia Nixon.

walter said...

Is this not a throwback to "Slackers"?

I love Inga claiming high ground interpretation of Althouse's supposed abuse here after she went hysteric and called her a bitch.
Yeah...she truly is the standard bearer of civility (bullshit).
I wonder how her liberal/conservative son views her..

The Crack Emcee said...

"I’d noticed soon after starting the job that whenever I got angry at the same things as everyone else, they all seemed happy."

And I'm already getting the creeps.

anti-de Sitter space said...

For a yute, like myself, it's hard to understand why bigots used to not like Italians. And, it's equally hard for me to understand why current bigots fuss re folks from India (not to mention Nigeria (Kenya, too (though best to not be a womanizer (though son-of-womanizer gets a pass, IMHO)))). But I do see that stuff (i.e. bigotry re not one's own particular "tribe") and such around, even when the instigators of such don't see the obvious bigotry as motivating re themselves.

Just as most of today's bigots are dunzo w/ Italian bigotry, maybe future bigots will move on from fussing about Mexicans and Indian engineers and Chinese-in-Chinese-plants and whoever else it is that they are currently worried about re harder workers taking "their" jobs.

Anywho, re the this post, when I see an Indian (descendent) gal who reminds me of Italian ancestry folks that I know (physical feature-y-wise), I think I sorta get why I contemporaneously don't get the POV of bigots-now re folks w/ roots not of here -- by the current (bigot) math re who is counted as being of here and who is not.

Bigotry don't make sense to me in my time, or before.

In many ways I'm a bad human. But, if I was closer to normal human drives (i.e. many hundreds of millions away), I think that I'd be better at being normal, like you bigots.

Seems like lots of folks work on some sorta mindful satisfaction. Many seem to like jabber: from DJT to what they say is Heyzeus's POV to a yoga instructor to car stickers about saving whales to the highs of being a meth-head. But, aside from casting a spell on yurself, doesn't it take giant piles of dough for real mindfulness -- to truly elevate? At best, aren't we (as self aware folks w/ the ability re record keeping and multi-generational building) ten thousand years from when every human was scraping by like animals? "We", as humans, are (definitionally) not evolved, when related to 14-ish billion years.

IMHO.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“Yeah...she truly is the standard bearer of civility (bullshit).
I wonder how her liberal/conservative son views her..”

My son is a Democrat and liberal. A Millwright and union member. My son in law is a conservative, as well as my daughter who is married to him. I adore my son in law and love my conservative daughter as I love all my children and they me. I was pleasantly surprised not long ago when she and my son in law told me they actually didn’t vote for Trump! I was shocked. But they are among the more intelligent conservatives, as are the conservatives who, like them, live in the burbs and are college graduates.

walter said...

"My son in law is a.."
Oh..of course...

"when she and my son in law told me they actually didn’t vote for Trump! I was shocked."
Who did these two vote for?

Rick said...

I adore my son in law and love my conservative daughter as I love all my children and they me.

Have you told them you think all conservatives agree with Todd Akin but most are smart enough to hide it? Or is there a family exemption?

Do the grandkids sit on your lap and ask you to tell them how you saved America from Romney implementing The HandMaid's Tale? Bonus points if you call others extreme in the same sentence.

walter said...

Have you floated your "in law" exception prior to now?

Rick said...

I love Inga claiming high ground interpretation of Althouse's supposed abuse here after she went hysteric and called her a bitch.

I thought that might be the end of her. But if she can come back after admitting her entire purpose is disrupting the comments I shouldn't be surprised.

walter said...

C'mon Rick,
Romney's "binders full of women" reeked of token affirmative action
He had to be stopped, according to Obama-ites.

walter said...

"Wait..what? Why?"
"Shut up! Hitler!!"

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“Do the grandkids sit on your lap and ask you to tell them how you saved America from Romney implementing The HandMaid's Tale? Bonus points if you call others extreme in the same sentence.”

Hahaha! The two youngest grandchildren, both boys are the only ones who are small enough to sit on my lap. Their parents, my third daughter, an attorney and her hubby a general manager for a promotions firm are liberals who live in Madison. My oldest granddaughter is a freshman at U of Minn. where she no doubt will be indoctrinated into liberalism.😁

Inga...Allie Oop said...

Oh, Romney, Romney was a very nice man. I doubt he had plans to turn America into Gilead.

walter said...

(cats meowing loudly, near starvation)

anti-de Sitter space said...

"(cats meowing loudly, near starvation)"

Maybe they were grabbed.

Or, do dogs who are strapped to the roof of a car for a road trip meow?

walter said...

Yeah, yeah!
Romney is STILL the devil.
You go, girl!

walter said...

Btw, I get your point about dogs being strongly averse to car travel.
You see it in the near universal behavior of jutting their heads out the nearest open window.
It's a cry for HELP!.

Ann Althouse said...

@crack You should get the creeps from that. It is intended by the author.

Rick said...

Oh, Romney, Romney was a very nice man. I doubt he had plans to turn America into Gilead.

The same man who was going to create The HandMaid's Tale if President is now "a very nice man" when no longer a political threat. It's a common transformation left wingers seem to believe signals their reasonableness and moderation.

walter said...

He became "a very nice man" when he released that anti-Trump clip. Only marginally less of a "very nice man" when he asked Trump for a job.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

Rick, you keep repeating some canard that Romney was going to make The Handmaid’s Tale a realitiy. Why do you think this? No one I knew thought that and we are liberals. You, a conservative, seem stuck on this Handmaid/ Romney connection, it’s odd.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse said...

"@crack You should get the creeps from that. It is intended by the author."

It reminded me of one of the car dealerships I worked for - they were totally into cult management techniques - and got those same results.

I didn't stay there long.

Rick said...

you keep repeating some canard that Romney was going to make The Handmaid’s Tale a reality. Why do you think this?

I'm citing your professed belief to show it is incompatible with your current rebranding effort. You claimed Americans should oppose Romney because the religious right wants to institute The HandMaid's Tale. Similarly you asserted all conservatives agree with Todd Akin most are just smart enough to not admit it publicly.

No one I knew thought that and we are liberals.

You're not liberal but even if we grant the statement arguendo it means nothing. Extremists and propagandists routinely say things they don't believe.