Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Beer O'Clock In The Morning

It's 8:35 in the morning and The German just came into the office with a beer in his hand. Well, not just any beer; It was my favorite beer--Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal beer. It was open and he was sipping on it. Drinking beer this early would be pretty unusual for me. Seeing him with it made me very nervous. After all, this is the same guy who drinks alcohol maybe two or three times a year. I asked him about it and he said he saw it in the fridge and decided that since he didn't have any job he had to go to today and wasn't going to be operating any heavy machinery around the house, he'd have a beer. I mentioned the fact that it is still breakfast time and he said something to the effect that when you're unemployed, there's really no big difference between eight o'clock in the morning and eight in the evening.

I think he's a bit down because this case is still dragging along and his employer still won't let him come back to work. He went back part-time for awhile but that didn't work out so well. His head and back injuries are still affecting him a lot. He's not unemployed. They are still paying him his usual salary and even gave him his vacation time pay but he just isn't actually going to work. It's really killing him because he's worked ever since he was a teenager. Plus, he thinks that VanGoghGirl and I might be tired of having him around so much.

The truth is, she really enjoys having him here to do her homework with her instead of having to do it with me. I like having him here because we actually get to spend some time together alone. That rarely happened before this happened. He'd be working five days a week, leaving before VanGoghGirl went to school in the morning and not getting back until long after dinner time. Often he had to go in on the weekends too.

The problem is, he subscribes to the idea that a man is supposed to work really hard. To him, making enough money to support your family isn't enough. He takes great pride in his "good German work ethic". I always appreciated that he was willing to do whatever it would take to take care of me and VanGoghGirl. Most of the other partners I had in the past were basically lazy, spoiled brats living off of the allowances their parents gave them. However, I don't have any desire to see him injure himself even further in an attempt to prove that he is willing to provide for us.

Neko-chan and I have talked about this a lot. We saw a shirt on a website that she thinks I should get him.

It says "Karoshi: Be careful not to work too hard". It's funny but it's also a serious warning too. Karoshi is a term that basically means "death from over-working". This is a serious epidemic in Japan. It's not unheard of to have people literally dying from strokes and heart attacks in their early thirties. Many people work over 80 hours a week and don't even receive pay for their overtime hours. Even working over 100 hours a week is not unusual for some professions.

This morning, I mentioned how many hours he used to work most of the time and how it was almost non-stop during certain times of the year. I told him that I hope he can start learning to enjoy being at home right now and understand that his time spent here is valued just as much as we valued the time he spent working outside the home...and then I drank the rest of his beer. :)

1 comment:

Ktrion said...

Wow, I just read this one.

Sounds like the German needs to be reminded that his care of you IS full-time work! And that it is so valuable and important right now.

It's important for him to be really good to himself right now. Maybe this period is the "forced vacation" he's had coming for years: how will he spend it?

I don't mean to sound preachy: I just care for you all three.