Supposedly less-than-perfect jobs both sound a lot better than the ones many people actually have.

Japanese trains have tons of advertisements inside of them, but most people don’t seem to mind. With average commuting times of roughly an hour in the Tokyo area, it’s nice to have something to pass your eyes over as you ride to work or school, especially when the train is too crowded to make browsing the Internet on your smartphone an option (yes, rush-hour trains in Japan really can get that crowded).

But while Japanese Twitter user @kenkirihara was likely hoping for some light, innocuous reading material when he saw an ad from rail operator Hankyu inside one of its train cars, what he found instead was a message that made his blood boil.

The poster asks the question:

“Which is better: Getting paid 500,000 yen (US$4,590) a month and feeling like you have no purpose in life every day, or a lifestyle where you get paid 300,000 yen (US$2,750) a month but always looking forward to going to work?”

That might sound like a pretty agreeable reminder about the importance of maintaining a reasonable work/life balance, or of including the non-financial aspects of your profession when evaluating your personal job satisfaction. @kenkirihara’s complaint, though, isn’t with the sentiment so much as the numbers, as along with the photo he tweeted:

“This is the sort of thing someone who lucked out by working during the bubble economy, and who doesn’t understand anything about life today, would say. I hate that about this Hankyu ad. For those of us working today, when we’re not picking between two jobs like that. We’re only getting paid half of what the jobs in the ad do.”

The ad is part of Hankyu’s Working Words series, which features inspiring (or intended-to-be-inspiring) quotes from people from a variety of fields of work, and sure enough, the words on the poster @kenkirihara saw were written by a researcher who’s in his 80s and probably enjoying retirement.

Several other commenters also chimed in to figuratively roll their eyes at the ad.

“These days there are a lot of people with boring jobs who don’t even get paid 200,000 yen a month.”
“A job where you get paid 300,000 a month and it’s fun? Awesome! Tell me where to send my application.”
“If I could get 500,000 yen a month, that in itself would become my purpose in life.”
“This just feels like somebody who’s living off a sweet pension from the ‘80s jeering at all of us who’re still working.”

“I’d rather spend my time looking at [rail company] Seibu’s ads. I want something cute and soothing.”

Getting back to the halved salaries @kenkirihara mentioned, a lot of entry-level, full-time adult jobs in Japan pay around 200,000 a month, and making the step up to a steady 300,000 yen a month usually requires taking on extra responsibilities, but without having climbed high enough in the company to really have much authority or freedom in how you do your job. Alternatively, many “fun” jobs, laid-back, part-time positions or small-scale, independent creative work, often fall somewhere below the 200,000-yen mark.

Because of that, a lot of workers, especially those who’re fresh out of school, can easily find themselves feeling like their choice in life isn’t between a lucrative but unfulfilling job or one with a respectable salary and emotional satisfaction, but between soul-sucking dreariness and financial insecurity. “This isn’t the kind of thing I want to see fist thing in the morning,” tweeted @kenkirihara in a follow-up, which implies his current reality is far drearier than the two fantasy scenarios presented by Hankyu’s Working Words.

Source: Twitter/@kenkirihara via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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