You see them in the morning on the way to the underground or after 5pm at any major train station in the country.
It is like a grey lemming train endlessly moving to and from only god knows where….Every now and then someone dares to brake file and zig zags between his peers, barcode hair gently flowing in the breeze, only to realize that the infinite mass of all these grey men mean that there is only one way forward and that is to give in and get in line.
There are queues to the turnstiles, queues in the stairs, queues to get on the train and queues to get off. In fact, at my station, there is even a queue to walk up the stairs that lead to the blessed fresh air above.
So you would think that being able to follow these patterns would make your average salary quite a boring sod. If he were not how would he possibly be able to lead this sort of life without succumbing to some sort of mental condition from these hardships.
The answer is that no, most of them are not boring sods, and they handle it with letting all their stress out while drinking alcohol. Leaving the alcohol part aside for the moment it is never a good thing to judge even though it sometimes feels ever so easy. You can not judge the individual by the herd and you might find that if you spend some time chatting with your average Salary man most of them have not only character but are also deeply passionate about something.
The alcohol part has been dealt with in numerous papers, magazines and blogs so I am not going to go into it too much. We have all seen the pictures of salary men with their ties around their heads instead of their necks and it is rather unimpressive. I honestly can not say that I like this part of either Japanese or corporate culture but I guess it is necessary to let off steam from the workplace. It does also bring you closer to your peers which is never a bad thing.
So if you do happen to be working in Japan take the time to know your fellow Salary Men. They are the fabric on which this society is built and without them we would neither have sandwiches in our convenience stores nor beer in our Izakayas.
All hail the Salary Man!