Chapter 54:

Job Fix

Couple That Can't Touch

Right after Suzuka left the apartment, I sent a message to both of my parents to tell them about the bakery. I knew Father wasn't going to like the idea, so I told Mom as well as a backup plan.

"We'll have it in mind," she texted me back the next day, followed by a smiley emoticon.

Father merely saw the message and didn't respond for a week. Meanwhile, I searched for a job. It had to be one that accepted students so that I could work full-time during the summer and part-time when school resumed.

I created a profile on a job-search website, uploaded a CV I had just made, and started searching. I didn't know if I was lucky, but I found an interesting offer that had just been posted. A nearby arcade was looking for a sales assistant for its video games store and accepted high school students. Wasting no time, I applied for it.

They replied the next day and asked me to come in for an interview the following day. I didn't expect it to happen that fast, so I got a little nervous.

I called Suzuka for help. Luckily, she had experience with job interviews. She told me what to expect and what to answer, and she told me to wear a formal outfit yet not too formal. I only had an afternoon left, so I asked her to accompany me to buy the clothes.

We met at a mall in the center of Tokyo and headed to a formal clothing store. Most of the clothes were expensive. Although I still had quite a bit of money in my account, I didn't want to spend too much. Fortunately, there were a few cheap outfits that Suzuka thought would look good on me. I grabbed them and tried them on in a fitting room. I liked one the most, but Suzuka liked another one. I trusted her opinion more, so I bought that one.

We were done after thirty minutes. We wanted to eat something at the mall, but we didn't want to spend more than necessary. Instead, we headed back to the apartment and cooked something. After eating, she helped me practice for the interview. She asked me stuff and corrected my answers. There wasn't much to fix about my presentation since I had always been a very formal person—thanks to my previous school and my parents enforcing it.

Suzuka left a couple of hours later and the day ended without anything happening. The next morning arrived and I headed to the arcade. I entered the two-floor building into a sea of arcade machines, practically all of them being used. The floor and walls were very colorful.

I had no idea where to go, so I approached the guy behind the counter.

"Good morning," I said.

"Good morning! Do you need something?"

"I'm here for a job interview at the video game store. Do you know where I should go?"

"Yes. Go to the second floor using the stairs over there" —he pointed at them with his finger—"and ask one of the attendants about it."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Good luck with your interview!"

After nodding, I walked upstairs and I was already at the store. Unlike the arcade, it was small. Instead of machines, there were shelves with hundreds of video games for all the different consoles as well as the consoles themselves. There were also big boxes of collector's editions of various popular games. It was like a gamer's paradise.

"Welcome! Are you looking for something specific?" a guy asked as he approached me. He wore a colorful uniform and a nameplate.

"I'm here for a job interview."

"In that case, please follow me."

I walked behind him towards a door. He opened it for me and we entered a hallway with multiple doors. We approached some chairs in front of one of the doors.

"This is the manager's office. You can take a seat while you wait," the attendant said. He then whispered in my ear, "I recommend you wait until the exact time; he's very strict with punctuality. Good luck!"

"Sure, thanks."

With a smile, he walked back the way we had come.

Everyone's really nice. I guess it's normal since they are employees.

I had arrived ten minutes early, so I didn't have to wait for too long. When the clock on my phone struck eleven o'clock, I stood up and knocked on the door.

"Come in," the manager replied.

I stepped inside to see the room's walls coated with posters and a couple of statues and life-size cardboards standing on the floor. The manager sat behind a desk with a monitor and dozens of figurines on top of it.

"Araki Koji-san?" he asked.

"Yes. Good morning. Thank you for receiving me," I bowed.

"Good morning. You arrived just in time. Please take a seat."

I sat down on one of the two chairs in front of the desk. The manager put his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on her hands.

"Araki-san, before getting into all the typical, boring stuff of a job interview, I want to give you a simple test. Imagine I'm your friend and I haven't played any games before. What would you recommend to me if I told you I wanted to play a building game?"

"There are a lot of building games to choose from. Since you haven't played any games, I'd suggest starting with a basic and popular one, like Craftingminers, so that you can easily get used to the controls and find people to play with."

"And what if I want to play a space game?"

"That's a little ambiguous. But, since you already told me you're interested in building games, I'd recommend Sky of Man. It's not as basic nor popular, but it can be quite attractive for someone that likes science fiction and exploration."

"Not bad. I like your answers, yet there are some things that need to be corrected. Also, you'll need to have in mind our stock when recommending a game to a customer. Though, as a gamer myself, I wouldn't like it if you didn't recommend a game to me just because we don't have it in stock."

"I agree."

"Sorry, I'm straying from the interview," he laughed. "Araki-san, are you a timid person?"

"I'm not."

"Good, that'll make things easier. Are you a collaborative person? Do you like working in teams?"

"I wouldn't say I am, but I can collaborate with no problems."

Thoughtful for a second, he asked, "What would you do if your entire team makes a decision you dislike?"

"I'd ask them about the reason and research to understand why they made the decision. Even if I couldn't understand, I'd still work with them and give my best."

"What if it's a long-term decision? Or what if they keep making decisions you dislike? Would you still want to work with them?"

"I would get tired of it at some point. I'd tell them why I dislike their decisions and that I'd leave so they have the time to find a replacement."

I wasn't sure if he was going to ask this, but Suzuka was stubborn about having me practice it.

"I see," he replied. "Let's start with the boring part of the interview. You already answered a lot of these questions on your application, but I want to hear them in person."

And so, he started asking the questions that I had practiced with Suzuka. What my passion was; what my best qualities were; my education; previous job experience; if I could speak other languages; and many more. He also asked if I was related to the Araki restaurant chain, but he didn't say much about it.

The interview ended on a high note, in my opinion. I returned home and waited for a message the following day. Luckily, I was right. I received a message on the job-searching website, telling me I had been hired. I returned to the store the next day, read the contract, and signed it. I was going to start working on Monday.

Monday quickly arrived. I woke up and got ready to arrive at the store thirty minutes before nine—my shift's start time. Since the front door of the building was locked, I used another door—only for employees—that headed directly into the hallway of the store. The same guy that had welcomed me the first time I came to the store welcomed me again. He already wore his uniform.

"Morning. You'll find your uniform in your locker in that room. You can lock the door and change there or in the bathroom."


"I'm Toshihiko, by the way."

"I'm Araki Koji."

His smile suddenly disappeared.

"Is there something wrong?" I asked.

"S-Sorry, it's nothing," he giggled.

I knew he was surprised to hear my name, but I merely walked into the room and opened the locker with my name. I grabbed the uniform from inside and changed in the bathroom.

When I got out, a girl that looked somewhat older than me was opening her locker.

"Good morning," she greeted me. "I'm Murai Tazuko, the cashier. Call me Tazuko."

"I'm Araki Koji, the new employee. Nice to meet you," I bowed.

Her smile also disappeared when she heard my name.

"Are you related to the restaurant?" she asked.

"I am."

"Cool. I should get changed. See you in a bit."


Even though they were both surprised, they don't seem to give it much importance.

Tazuko-san stepped into the bathroom and I walked out of the room to go into the store. Toshihiko-san walked between the shelves, quickly inspecting each of the products. I approached him.

"What should I do?" I asked.

"Since it's your first day, you're going to observe what I do. If you have questions, ask me or Tazuko-san. And if you see that I'm too busy to welcome or help customers, don't hesitate to step in."


He began explaining what he was doing before the store opened at nine o'clock, then I observed what he did for the first customers that arrived. It didn't take long for me to have to help.

Tazuko-san took her break first and Toshihiko-san replaced her at the cash register. When she returned, I took my break. Toshihiko-san then took his, leaving me alone to help and welcome the customers. Fortunately, it wasn't a busy hour. The busy hour came just after Toshihiko-san returned from his break.

My shift ended after eight hours. I had to absorb a lot of information and was exhausted by the time I arrived at the apartment.

In the evening, Kawahara-san sent a message to the experiment group. She asked everyone if we were available the afternoon of the next day to go to Hosei University, where her mother worked as a bioscience professor and researcher.

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