The following conversation took place between myself and a student at a cafe in Yokohama.
Student: I still haven’t heard back for that (big) Chinese company I interviewed with two weeks ago…I don’t think I passed the interview.
Me: Sorry to hear that.
Student: It’s OK. I spoke with my brother in law. He lives in China, in Shanghai, and he emailed me about the company.
Me: He works for the company??
Student: No, he works for a (big) Japanese company’s office in China.
Me: Is he Chinese?
Student: Who? My brother-in-law?? No, he’s Japanese.
Me: I see…so what did he say about the company you interviewed with?
Student: He said…well…he said that he disagreed with the company.
Me: Disagreed with what? The Company’s policies?
Student: No…just in general.
Me: In general?
Student: Well, he is living in China and though he works for a Japanese company he deals with different Chinese companies.
Me: Ah, I see…so he has had dealings with the company you interviewed with.
Student: Well, no…with other Chinese companies.
Me: Huh? So what exactly does he disagree with, then?
Me: Well…does he find Chinese companies disagreeable, or maybe Chinese business people disagreeable?
Me: Maybe he means he simply disapproves of your working for a Chinese company… In general…
(I show him the meaning in the dictionary)
Student: hmmm… Well he says, in general, that chinese companies are growing very fast and are doing well now but…ummm…they have shady practices and poor management skills and so in the long run they will not succeed…in general.
Me: And did you find that information useful?
Me: Well, you ask the man for some advice about a company and he gives you his feelings on the entire Chinese business landscape and culture without any specifics on the company you inquired about. So I wanted to know if you found any of his feedback useful at all…or as truly useless as it sounds to me.
Student: But…well, he lives in China and…
Me: …and I live in Japan. I left my family and friends in the US to come and work for a a very big Japanese company, a franchise English school. I did so dutifully for three years, and then suddenly the company folded due to…wait for it…shady practices and poor management.
Student: Nova, right?
Me: That’s right! Now, just yesterday…a guy, reader of my blog, new in town from England…over a bowl of oishii ramen he asked me about finding work here teaching English. If I were your brother-in-law, I might say something vague and in general like, “you can’t trust Japanese companies any further than you can throw them. Here today gone tomorrow…” and then share my actual experience, which would make me more qualified to paint all Japanese companies with that same ill-informed and biased brush than your brother-in-law was warning you off of Chinese companies. You follow me?
Student: You are right…
Me: I mean, if you want to start disqualifying big companies worldwide for shady dealings…in other words, greed…and questionable management, you are really limiting the playing field…I mean, America is in the economic shape it’s in now for just those reasons…and, truth be told, so is Japan…so I think it’s safe to say the Chinese have not cornered the market on those corporate attributes.
Student: Sou da ne…
Me: And I think it’s also safe to say your brother-in-law just finds the Chinese disagreeable…in general…
PS: If you haven’t read Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist yet, and don’t know who the ice cream guy is, what are you waiting for? A personal invitation? Check it out! It’s available in paperback and E-book version here.