Stuffing out cigarettes in sushi, wearing pizza dough as a mask and cleaning feet in the dishwasher – these are just some of the stunts part-time workers are pulling to the delight of their Twitter followers and the chagrin of their employers.
While the part-timer pranks may not seem particular unusual to readers outside Japan, the behavior has raised eyebrows in Japan – a nation that takes dedication to work and strict discipline very seriously.Since a man posted a picture of himself lying inside a refrigerated ice cream case at his convenience store job online, local media have unveiled a new case of an employee documenting mischief on Facebook or Twitter almost daily. The trend has even spawned a new expression brimming with hyperbole: “baito tero” or “part-time job terrorism.”All the cases so far have involved workers at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, sparking conjecture that the real cause underlying the misbehavior is the frustration of employees with low-paying, part-time jobs.
Other commentators, however, say social media is to blame.
— kocchan⋈˟˚ (@kocchaaaaaaaan) July 16, 2013
“For young people, the most important thing is to stand out and be noticed. For example, since social networks have become popular, cute girls have tried to attract attention knowing that some have become models after being discovered through social media. Whereas in the past, those girls would have been scouted when they were out and about walking around,” Britney Hamada, a comic book artist and television personality said on a television program last week. “That’s just escalated more and more and translated into these kinds of ‘crimes.’”
Nearly a quarter of high-school students in Japan use Twitter, while only 14% use Facebook, according to a September survey of over 4,500 students by ZKAI Co.
Whether the clowning around is down to part-time job dissatisfaction or social media overload, employers have been less than understanding, sometimes taking action that has arguably caused greater inconvenience to customers.
Only a week after the closing, however, the company decided to permanently close the branch out of consideration for its responsibility to “provide a comfortable moment for the customer through delicious food, good service and a clean and fun restaurant.”
At a Lawson convenience store where an employee climbed into the refrigerator, Lawson, Inc. removed all ice cream products, dismantled the offending ice cream case and temporarily closed the store. Photos uploaded by curious neighbors show the windows shuttered and the parking lot closed off.
“All our employees and affiliate stores will work as one to regain customers trust so that this kind of thing never happens ever again,” the company said in a statement.