It was lunchtime when the meeting with Mr. Kamoi ended. Mr. Iwata told me to go out for lunch with the women. A tall, round-faced woman and a short, pointy-jawed woman came to our island, and Miss Yabe and I followed them. The former was Miss Asai, and the latter was Mrs. Nakata, both of whom had been with the company for a few years already.
Miss Asai was 27 years old, a daughter of a wealthy executive of one of the largest trading companies, still living with her parents. She spent her salary on designer clothes and accessories. Mrs. Nakata was 28 years old, married for a couple of years to a former colleague who left the company to work for an accounting firm. In contrast to Miss Asai, Mrs. Nakata was frugal to the point of wearing the same clothes every day. At lunch, Miss Asai and Mrs. Nakata mostly talked about other people in the office. Their tone was derisive, and opinions were as petty as their position in the department. They sounded bored and frustrated, but instead of feeling resigned, they retaliated by gossip campaign.
Miss Yabe was under their power because she had only joined the company six months before and was a year younger than Miss Asai. I found her more pleasant and interesting than the other two. She studied the Russian language and literature at Sophia University and spoke the language fluently. She got a job offer from Starbucks but chose the current job because she liked manga and videogames. She also lived with her parents and considered the job as the means of earning comfort and pleasure, such as eating out and traveling.
The women were “assistants,” whose jobs included clerical works, answering phones, serving tea for guests. I made a mental note that I should avoid being associated with these women so that other people don’t consider I am an assistant as well.