Skip to content

Bruce Schneier would have harsh words.

Bruce Schneier would have harsh words. published on

In reference to the day I decided to look into drinking as my new hobby:

On Friday morning before worked I walked to the post office to withdraw some cash at an ATM, and was told that I was overdrawn.

I briefly panicked, trying to figure out how I’d done that – I hadn’t logged into the bank’s website for a while, but I’d been sure I had at least $700 in my checking account. I went back to the apartment to check, and found that the bank’s website wouldn’t let me log in. So I called home to see if Mom and Dad had gotten any calls about problems with my account.

Does it make sense that a really bad ice storm in Kentucky should make it impossible for me to use the ATMs in Japan? No, it doesn’t make sense. Apparently Citizens National Bank’s networks have exactly zero redundancy built into them – when a power outage took out the computers in Pikeville, it locked me out of my account completely. My information wasn’t being stored live anywhere outside the affected area.

As is the way of things, I had only 1600 yen (less than $20) in cash on me when I discovered this was going on. Though Dad says the computers had been down for at least a couple days by this time, I didn’t get notified of the problem until yesterday evening. Dad was, incidentally, about to leave the country when I spoke to him, and in any case his own bank account was similarly inaccessible – there was now way he or Mom could have sent me money. So I decided I’d ask for a 20000 yen (about $220) advance on my first paycheck.

I didn’t feel like this was a big deal, given that 1) the situation wasn’t my fault, 2) they’d actually offered me an advance once before, and I’d turned it down because I didn’t need it, 3) I’d been working for nearly a month already, ten days of which I’d already agreed would be unpaid, and 4) I’d ordinarily have been paid in three days (tomorrow), anyway.

Apparently I was wrong, as my employers were somewhat less than graceful about the situation. I think someone actually accused me of lying about the ice storm situation – or, at least, I can’t think of any other reason for some of the questions I was being asked.

This also ended up being the day that someone from the apartment complex called about getting my stove fixed. The owner of the school, questioning me about the issue, said some things to suggest that he didn’t particularly want to go to the trouble. I’m not under the impression that the school actually bears any financial responsibility for this (I think that either the head office in Tokyo or the apartment complex owners pay) – it only inconveniences him, personally, in that he was obliged to briefly talk to a maintenance guy on the phone. And the previous teacher had also mentioned the stove problem to him, so he clearly knows I wasn’t the one who broke it. I have no idea why he chose to get annoyed with me about this.

A bit later in the day, he did something that I’m still too mad about to talk about. Paper was involved. Let us say no more about it.

So I’m coming dangerously close to developing a personal dislike for my employer here, is basically what I’m saying. What is presently saving me from this is his son, who is in a private class and who is one of the cutest kids in the universe – I figure anyone who raised Mr. Sleepyhead can’t be all bad. But if I ever get the slightest hint that he’s mean to his kid, I’m going to have to start coming up with reasons to stay in the classroom when he’s in the office.