"Office Staff" -- 総務

Tom: Hey, Mark, long time no see!

Makoto: Yeah, Tom. Long time. What are you doing these days?

Tom: Well, I'm between jobs programming. Taking a little time off while I look for a new contract. How about yourself?

Makoto: Keeping busy. Working in Japan.

Tom: Japan? Way cool. What do you do?

Makoto: You know, I'm not sure what we'd call it in English. I work in an office.

Tom: Not management?

Makoto: No, we help management, but we don't really manage.

Tom: Not secretarial?

Makoto: You know, I think, in America, secretaries generally do this kind of work. It's called so-moo in Japanese. (総務 -- そうむ -- sou-mu) I looked it up and the best definition I could find is "general staff".

Tom: Hmm. Office staff?

Makoto: Maybe so. I basically make sure that a lot of engineering related paperwork gets where it's supposed to go, in the form it's supposed to be in. But I don't do any real engineering. At least, I'm not supposed to.

Tom: Well, a hundred years ago, back when secretaries were still mostly men, I think they'd have called you an engineering secretary.

Makoto: I guess the meanings of words change, huh?

Tom: Yeah. Say, can I buy you a cup of hot chocolate, since you don't drink coffee?

Makoto: Thanks, but why don't we find a place where we can both get a sandwich, and we can talk. It's about lunchtime anyway.

Tom: Great idea!