OCHAZUKE: In Gratitude




First of all, may I thank Mr. Michael Komai, the publisher of The Rafu Shimpo for without him, there would be no Rafu Shimpo. Mr. Komai is a very kind and generous executive. He is very active in the Japanese American community and supports the community in many phases such as, sports, education, festivities, etc. My heartfelt “Thank you” to him.

In a September 1999 issue of The Rafu Shimpo, I noted an ad offering a position for a part-time typist. I  was familiar with The Rafu Shimpo because my father was a faithful subscriber since the early 30s. I submitted my application and/or resume along with a copy of my college diploma and adult education teaching certificate. About two weeks later, I received a call from Susan Yokoyama, who was then human resource rep., asking me to come in for an interview. I was interviewed by the then editor, John Saito, Jr. and Susan Yokoyama.

After the interview, I prayed  that I would be selected for the position and what a great opportunity to learn and be right in the thick of the Japanese community through the media and location. Two days later, I received a call from Mrs. Yokoyama stating that I had been chosen for the  position and was to begin work on Sept. 29. I cannot tell you how elated I was!

On the first day, that Sept. 29 morning, the typing assignment given to me was The Horse’s Mouth column, which was the first column I read in the Rafu Shimpo and now I am actually typing it. I  kept saying to myself, “Ain’t this something?”

My working days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I worked from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, after the second week, I found that it was most difficult for me to learn how to operate the word processor and I informed Mr. Saito that the job, after all, was not for me. Mr. Saito said to me, “Maggie, I’m not going to let you go that easy. I know you can do it so stick it out  for at least 3 months.”  I am a very determined person and I felt I could not let Mr. Saito down and really “worked” at it. Without the understanding and charisma of Mr. Saito, who encouraged me, supported me and also so tactfully corrected me when I made errors, I could not have made it those first three months. Three months passed, a year passed and now it has been ten years and four months I have been employed at The Rafu Shimpo.

Susan Yokoyama who patiently showed me the shortcuts on the word processor, telling me the same things over and over until it finally sank in is most appreciated. I am a slow learner and you have to REALLY want to teach me. Susan was an excellent teacher and no matter how many times I asked her the same questions, she always answered me as if it were the first time I asked her. I truly appreciated her patience.

Shortly after John Saito resigned from the Rafu Shimpo, Takeshi Nakayama was the assistant editor for a short time. He was very helpful to me, but I will always remember him as catching a gross error of mine. I had typed an article on a singing recital and neglected to put the “i” in recital which made the word, “rectal.” Mr. Nakayama circled the word, “rectal” in red and put it on my desk. Upon returning to my desk, I saw the error, corrected it and returned the article to Mr. Nakayama. I told him, “That was a Freudian slip.” He said, “Oh, is that what you call it?”

When I was struck by a car while walking in a Mall parking lot by an Iranian woman who was talking on the cellphone, Ellen Endo, the then editor-in-chief offered to assist me by advising me in legal and medical matters. She sacrificed her time for me from her busy schedule until the matter was settled. I am very appreciative of what she did for me and also amazed at her acute knowledege of legality.

I am appreciative to David Inana, the former sports editor, who sat behind me and was there for me when I needed assistance on the word processor. He, too, was very patient in helping me so many times.

I am grateful for Mario Reyes, Rafu Shimpo’s chief photographer and Michael Hirano-Culross, art and entertainment editor,  to whom I have now known for ten years. Throughout the ten years and even to this day, they have always assisted me in many ways whether work-related or on personal matters.

After ten years, I am still typing George Yoshinaga’s Horse’s Mouth column. We have had a good relationship from the very beginning. He calls me, “Maggie-chan,” and never becomes upset or angry when I change a word or sentence in his column.  Mr. Y is truly a resourceful journalist. What I admire about him most is that he has the courage to express his true feelings in his column. It is indeed a privilege to type his column twice a week.

Presently, Gwen Muranaka is the editor-in-chief and she has been very kind and accommodating at all times. I know that she is there for me and is always willing to answer my questions no matter how busy she is and never shows any irritation. She is a wonderful boss and I appreciate her goodness.

Nao Gunji, the assistant editor (no longer with the Rafu Shimpo), was also  obliging and kind and always helpful. She was also there for me whenever I needed assistance. I  cannot forget Audrey Shiomi, who was the assistant editor prior to Nao, who was also very thoughtful and obliging.

Jordan Ikeda, the present sports editor, who sits across from me  is so very “handy” and helpful whenever I need assistance and so willingly assists me. Cari Yasuno and Ayame Kousaka,  graciously assist me whenever I need help. It is very gratifying  that I am treated with respect by my superiors and wonderful coworkers who are willing to assist me under any circumstances

I am grateful to Gail Miyasaki, one of the executives for the Rafu Shimpo as well as Yoko Otsuki another executive, and to Michelle Field, Akemi Hata and Seiko Matsuba, who are the receptionists and perform several other duties. They have been most accommodating and helpful with any request I make.

May I add that although, we are separate from the Japanese section, the Japanese section editor, Takashi Ishihara, has been most kind and cooperative whenever I ask a question pertaining to the Issei and/or the Japanese language. His staff are friendly and always greet me. Jun Nagata, one of the Japanese section staff, was there when I first began working ten years ago and he has been most accommodating through the many years.

I know I won’t be here another ten years, but during the past ten years and four months, I have learned much and enjoy what I am doing. I am grateful for the  wonderful opportunity and the answered prayer and dream which came true on September 29, 1999. God has truly provided and blessed me. AMEN.

Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. Ochazuke is a staff-written column. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


Leave A Reply