Shift – Excerpt 2

From my book in progress, with the working title of Shift.

Please enjoy an excerpt from Chapter 7 in which I recount multiple stories from a wide range of strange interview scenarios over the history of my work life.

Interviews are not always what you expect and can be mysterious, thoroughly unconventional and even a little dangerous.

Here is one example of a strange encounter that took place while I lived in Japan for one year in my late twenties.

If you would like to see more from the book, please read Shift – Excerpt 1, accessible from the link below or through the drop-down menu.



NOH DRAMA Just a few weeks into a January move to Osaka, Japan by the urging of a friend who had been there for a couple years teaching ESL, I arranged to meet for a job interview at the local donut shop a few blocks from my apartment in Ikuno-ku. When I got there, in the pouring rain, I was met by “Yoshi”, a middle-aged Japanese man and school owner who spoke no English, and a young Australian man, named “Nick”, presumably one of his teachers or assistants who was fluent in Japanese. Nick was there to translate for us and things started off pretty smoothly. Fifteen minutes into our meeting at the donut shop, however, a decision was made abruptly to visit the school together.

We rushed through a downpour of rain as I was escorted curbside to their car. I  climbed into the backseat while Yoshi drove and Nick sat up front and continued to translate, asking me questions about my experience and background. Then, a sudden moment of silence followed, by a hushed exchange between the two men.

I was instantly engulfed in fear, realizing I had no idea where we were, or who these guys were. Did they even show me their IDs and credentials? I blurted out to Nick, “Are we going to the school? Where is it? Where is the school? What street is it on? What street are we on now?” Yoshi must have sensed my discomfort or perhaps he thought I was behaving boldly or in an impolite, completely inappropriate and forward manner for a woman subordinate, speaking out of turn.

A heated and rapid conversation between the two broke out. I became more alarmed in each passing second as they continued to talk vigorously without answering any of my questions. What am I doing, I thought. Back home, I would never have gotten into a car with two strangers, two men I know nothing about! What have I gotten myself into, what is the matter with me!

I asked Nick again what was going on exactly, “I thought we were going to the school?” He turned to me with what seemed like a completely different tone and tenor to his face and his voice, stating flatly, “We are not going to the school” and turned back to face forward. I was horrified now as the rain continued to pelt the car in blinding sheets of water. I had no idea where I was and my common sense compass was spinning out of control.

I turned to Nick, “I’m very uncomfortable with this situation. I think we should return to the donut shop”. More translation and another conversation unfolded but no response was given to me. About two minutes later we pulled over to the curb and I sensed my escape was imminent. I got out briskly and snapped my umbrella open, looking around at my location and any sign of a nearby subway line. I turned to Nick and asked, “Is this where the school is, are we going there after all?” Nick blinked twice and looked at me through condescending eyes and said, “We are at the donut shop. See? It’s right over there. You are right back where you started.”

The rain began to taper off softly in that moment, almost imperceptibly, to a refreshing mist and I bowed and made my gracious departure. The walk home was one of deep inquiry. What had just happened? Was that completely honest and innocent or were they Yakuza looking for “hospitality girls”? Did I put way too much faith in the commonly portrayed idea that Japan is safe and crime free? Have I seen too many horror movies? Is my westernized mindset letting my imagination run wild? Or did I actually just narrowly escape some ill-fated outcome. I never heard from them again so I’ll never know. Lesson learned – a multi-layered one, in fact.


(This is a brief excerpt from Chapter 7 of my book in progress, Shift  © 2018, Mary Corbin. No reprints without permission. Contact me for more information.)

“Thinking Allowed” painting by Mary Corbin

Read Shift – Excerpt 1

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