I am on the American Chamber of Commerce-Japan’s (ACCJ) mailing list, and get the daily(?) E-central newsmail, which mostly is about jobs that Tokyo-based headhunters allege are out there to fill.
Tonight, I made my way down to Roppongi for the ACCJ’s “Ecentral After 7” networking get-together. Dummy me, I didn’t decide to go until last night, so I didn’t take them up on the offer of a 3200 yen ticket per the e-mail above.
Now let me say this much positive first: If you have never been down to the 57 Bar & Lounge in Roppongi, it really is rather nice. I would definitely go back there in the future, and recommend to anyone thinking about hanging out there, that it’s worth the trip into Roppo.
About the event itself, it turned out to be the disaster that I felt in my bones it would be, based on my feelings about the ACCJ—which I’ve shared with you here before. (Basically, these people sold out the American community long ago and have their own good elitist thing going here in Japan.)
You know, I felt bad because I had been saying about ACCJ based off their internet presence and the silly Ecentral e-mails. But I had never been in contact with actual ACCJ people. Maybe it makes it easier to have a critical eye when you don’t know anyone within a group and base your views off what you see as an outsider. Maybe it’s an unfair assessment without knowing the people. I don’t know. But tonight I was going to find out.
However, the event quickly became oversubscribed. I would say packed enough that your last name might as well have been “Sardine” if you were trying to mingle and meet people. “Hi, I’m Joe Sardine and if I can reach for a business card without elbowing some lady in the face, I’d like to introduce myself.”
It reminded me of that episode of Star Trek where they needed Kirk’s blood on an overpopulated planet so that they could re-introduce disease and death, and open up space. That’s how packed. (No bad thing about disease.)
Like some bad Japanese game show where they see how long a contestant can endure, I got tired of trying to move around without accidentally stepping on someone’s foot (I am over 100 kg by the way). And I just left.
I saw this guy that looked like an age-enhanced version of my law school dean, who never was very kind to me, and so that helped my decision, too.
Now let’s be honest about what the ACCJ did tonight. They made this event. And if you are a regular ACCJ-er, then you probably saw people that you know from ACCJ there.
But if you aren’t paying the $900 a year into ACCJ, or if you are not in the Tokyo elite group of expats (like I explained at Daily Kos three years ago)—or not a power networker (few of us are)—then you also probably feel that you wasted 3200 yen or 3700 yen on a “free drink and finger food”. I’ll talk about what finger food later.
I did get to talk to three nice people before the party went to sh*t. So that part made it not a total loss. I, of course, never found “Quebec City” #2, who would have been the pairing on the party game card that I was handed. I’m not sure how many people’s feet I would have threatened with a 100 kg crushing, or accidental nudges or pushes I would have had to administer (or endure) to find Mr. or Ms. Quebec City #2. But this is not even my point.
Look at what the invite says:
Ecentral After 7 is brought to you by Citibank
[Hoofin’s note: By the way, this means it’s being brought to you 38% by you as an American taxpayer!]
This is your last chance to book tickets for the Ecentral After 7 networking event, this Thursday, 19:00 at 57 bar & lounge in Roppongi, Tokyo. After 7 is your chance to meet with business leaders from all over the world operating in japan AND a chance to win great prizes!
When: October 8, from 19:00 to 23:00 (Doors open 18:30)
Where: 57 Bar & lounge, Roppongi, Tokyo
Tickets: JPY 3,200 (online), JPY 3,700 (at the door) – Prices include one free drink plus finger food
Now seriously, this event, you were not going to meet any business leaders. The business leaders there didn’t seem like they were working the room, unless they could float. You were only accidentally going to network yourself into anything.
I myself did manage to get about ten french fries and a cracker with some spread. That was your “Finger Food”. Guess which finger you got, right?
Meanwhile, ACCJ collected either 3,200 yen or 3,700 yen off false promises, basically. They made a lot of money, and anyone not already connected learned a lesson about holding on to your OWN money.
This is what sellouts teach you.
I am working on a theory that the people from overseas who are set up well in Japan are basically like the Gold Rush entrepreneurs that used to sell equipment, housing and food to the prospectors. Even though, those others of us here are not really prospecting for gold. We are just, you know, um . . . living.
Trying to make a life, just like we would be doing back home in the country you others either use (especially on favorable tax treatment for foreign branches of corporations), or forget.
I am going to miss that 3700 yen as bad as I do the $10 I lost in Atlantic City back in January 1985 when I was a college student hanging out there with friends. Some money you spend, and you forget you spent it. Other money, you never forget the way you got burned.
So readers, if you happen to see one of these invites in the future, forewarned is forearmed. You may just be making the gold prospectors’ supplier rich. You know?