The last of Mr. Saito
I asked Mr. Saito to see me as I needed his advice. He agreed and invited me to an Italian restaurant in Yebisu. I had never dined with Mr. Saito alone. Last time there was someone else from the team.
It was a small restaurant with only a few tables. The waiter knew Mr. Saito by his name and greeted him warmly, with respect but not obsequiously. Mr. Saito greeted him back in a soft voice and manner, an incongruence with his bulky appearance that always fascinated me. He was quite a connoisseur of wine and happily chose us a bottle of red wine. Despite a date-like setting, I was comfortable and was glad to finally have time to talk with him long after his transfer to another department.
I told him about the opportunity that fell on me and the whole hubbub of mass personnel relocations back and out. I said the situation was not favorable, but I didn’t think I’d get another opportunity like this if I let it go. Mr. Saito put the wine glass down on the table gently, as if he didn’t want to disturb the evaporation of aroma, and said the same thing as Mr. N and Mr. Hirao told me. “You will need patience now. Some men will try to obstruct it, so Mr. N and your boss will need to move very carefully and discreetly.” But, then, he added, “but I do think the move will do you good in the long run.” With this, I was 80% determined to make a move.
It was the last I saw Mr. Saito. Shortly after our meeting, he left the company to take a sabbatical and traveled to Eurasia on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He sent me long emails describing the trip, and I’d reply curtly for fear of the correspondence becoming too intimate now that we were no longer colleagues. And my fear came true when he wrote, “I’d give you anything.” I was sad to lose him as I had hoped he’d remain in my life as my mentor.