Small Kindnesses

The other day, English Club ran a bit long. When we finished the game, I asked the kids if they wanted to play again, fully expecting a chorus of “FINISH!” To my surprise they actually wanted to play one more time, and if they’re keen I’m certainly not going to stop them!

When I got back to the teacher’s room, the club adviser seemed a bit flustered. “Today took a bit longer?” He asked. I explained what happened, and he rushed over to his desk and came back with a small piece of hard candy.

“Thank you for your extra time,” he said.

This is one of the things I love about Japan. A small piece of hard candy costs virtually nothing, but it’s a very sweet (literally, haha!) gesture. It really made me feel appreciated. Coworkers often give each other little sweets or snackie things for various reasons, usually with gratitude (or guilt in some eyes) as a motivation.

I get the sense that in some places it’s fairly strict and regimented, but at my workplace it’s pretty relaxed. Give something if you feel like, but if not, it’s no big deal. It’s a token of appreciation, but it’s not required.

Is there a custom like this in your workplace? Does it sound like an obligation, or a nicety? What do you think?

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About superhappyawesome

Living in Japan!
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13 Responses to Small Kindnesses

  1. Doug DeLong says:

    Perhaps since nobody gets paid for overtime in Japan, hard candy will become the standard underground currency. Workers will hoard their stash in the hope that they’ll be able to trade “the hard stuff” to get their kids new gloves for the winter. Hard candy for hard times.

  2. kateebot says:

    That’s so sweet! I’ve heard stories of coworkers of JET teachers who are nasty, but it sounds like you’ve found the greatest school ever. What game were you playing with them, btw?

    • Yeah, I’m reaaaaaally lucky–both of my schools are super awesome. There’s pretty much only one teacher that bugs me, but everyone else is great.

      We were playing a really simple game actually–“Write as many 5 letter words/3 letter words/4 letter words on the board as you can”. We’d been rotating teams, and one team hadn’t gone yet, so they wanted to play again. Amazing!

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  4. I think it depends on the people at work. In general at one of my schools no one really gives a crap about each other and everything is done out of obligation. But at my other school where people really are kind and do care, we all try to put personal touches on things like gifts and omiyage. I feel like I’ve been here long enough that I can see through most of the BS when it comes to stuff like that (either at work or with friends) and I’ve learned to just take the good with the bad.

    • Yeah, it’s interesting how the atmospheres can be so different. I’m glad I’ve ended up in places where people genuinely seem to care, though! Not at all like the first place I taught, back in the day!

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  6. Rebekah C says:

    You know, I absolutely love reading about your experiences in Japan. LOVE it. Someday, I’m just going to have to visit…

    • Aw, yay! I’m glad you’re enjoying 🙂 Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re interested to hear about, I’m still kind of figuring out this whole blogging business/what to say, lol.

      And you should totally come visit! That would be so kickass!

  7. Lisa says:

    Hmm, where I work there’s of course the typical omiyage thing, which although I agree is a sometimes a bit of a pain, is usually appreciated by everyone when they’re on the receiving end. (Well…I do anyway! :D)

    Other than that each work team has its own tin of candy/sweets which someone is in charge of filling up every month. So everyone’s pretty much covered! Having said that, people do drop an extra sweet from their team box to someone else if they’ve been helpful or whatever.

    I know I’m really lucky with a superawesome workplace though, so I can’t really say anything else! ^^

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