Migration

Yesterday, I watched a variety show on unique hotel accommodations around the world, and the episode yesterday was showing Cave Hotels in Granada, Spain. It immediately sparked my interest.

I have been feeling out of place for years in this urban city, though I am very grateful for being born here. It is a beautiful island transformed into a clean garden city, with lots of efforts from our forefathers, as well as our government. However, I feel that I do not belong to this place. I am not certain, but deep down in my heart, I always sense that I belong to the countryside. Perhaps it is in my roots, as I was born in kampong. I cannot really remember my years spent there, as I was just a toddler when we moved out, into our HDB flat. There are simply some bits and pieces of memories here and there, in addition to what my mom told me about some of the hilarious stuffs I had done. She told me that there was a litter of puppies with whom I always hung out with. I was always running to and fro on the broad, uneven road right in front of our attap house, with the puppies. I cannot recall exactly, but I think the puppies were in shades of browns and blacks. And there was a mother dog, too.

There are lots of things about my years living in the kampong which I cannot recall, and I seriously wish that I could. As I grow older, I realise that, though I am not a nature lover and I dread the sun as much as I love my bed, I am not much of a city person. True enough, when I was in my late teens till late twenties, I was having that much fun in exploring life in the city and making friends everywhere I went. I had thought that life would be as exciting all the way, even after I have my own family and children. Boy, how wrong I was.

Especially in recent years, I have been cooping at home, other than spending hours at work. I have no desire to go out. The crowds and noises out there terrify me. I have been asking my mom if we could grow our own veggies and herbs at home. Though we do not have a balcony, and it is not safe to keep them along the common corridor, I believe we can have the pots along the windows in the kitchen. Although we cannot farm a lot, at least we can eat whatever we grow. I have been telling my mom that if I can stay in a landed property, I would want to have my own mini farm, where I grow veggies and herbs for my own consumption. Without the chemicals, it is definitely healthier and cleaner.

Back to the show of Granada, the cave homes simply caught my eyes, and my heart. They do not look like a huge place each, but essential for a small family. Of course, there ought to be bigger houses for bigger and richer families. I did not know about the weather, but the residents said that temperatures are constant in the cave houses throughout the seasons. When it is cold outside, you would feel warm in the cave houses. When it is hot out there, being in the cave houses keep you cool. In comparison with modernised apartments, living in a cave house help to save a lot of energy and money. I got so keen that I went online to look for more information on Granada.

I slightly glanced through the blogs, and it looks like Granada experiences four seasons. That is a challenge to me, as even though I dread the sun, I dread the cold even more. Safety-wise and other information, somehow I have my reserves on what those several bloggers said. Because if they feel that Malaysia is one of the best places to retire in, I seriously have my doubt in their opinions. Even expenditure-wise, there are different scales. Well, as I scrolled down the list of best places to retire in, I saw Chiang Mai, Thailand. I like Thailand, for the cost of living is low. The air and water may be badly polluted, the road traffic may be much worse than what we are experiencing here in Singapore, the hygiene standard may not be fair, and crime rates is probably higher than Singapore. But I have not been to Chiang Mai. I just read up on it, and realised that it can be cold at night there, too. A killer factor for me.

I have been born and bred here, in this merlion city. And I am keeping in mind that our late PM Mr. Lee Kuan Yew would love our citizens to return to the nest he had built for us, no matter how far out we venture. Hence, will I eventually migrate to another place to spend my retirement years?

 

Managers These Days

Case 1

A customer purchased a product by this company I am working for, and encountered some issues, and insisted on having a refund. The Sales team refuses to take his calls, and the Sales Regional Manager asked me to get his email address. Even a Regional Manager does not have the guts to take on the responsibility of just answering a call from a dismayed customer. What kinda manager is that? What capabilities does she have, other than behaving like an Ah Lian and putting on layers of make-up?

 

Case 2

There is a conference call scheduled for tonight, and all employees are expected to dial in from all over the globe. I did not know, as I am simply a receptionist, and nothing else, except for the email from the CEO, was received a couple of days ago. This morning, HR sent a mass email to remind on this call. I asked if everyone has to participate. Indeed. I do not know if it is a simple teleconference thingy, or do I have to log in to Webex. When I asked the HR senior which number to call from our end, she did not reply. Till now. I asked another HR colleague, he was in a meeting, and asked me to check with the HR senior. I then asked another colleague, and she told me she has an appointment tonight, so she will not be dialing in. She asked me to tell my HR manager that I have an appointment to excuse myself from it.

I then sent a Skype message to my HR manager, asking her if everyone has to call in, she replied, “Yes.” I sensed the dullness in me straightaway, and simply asked if the toll-free number is what we are supposed to dial. She replied with another “Yes”. Period. I refused to say a word more. If I make any excuses, I suppose she will dislike me more, and my days here will be more tortured than ever. Thus, I resigned to my fate. If everyone has to dial in, why are some people excused? This is the so-called double-standard, and I hate it so.

Miseries At Work

When I came for interview for this current job position, I was told that I would be reporting to the HR manager, and that the HR team would assist me whenever in whatever areas, should I face challenges. Now, I feel deceived, extremely.

Not only was the HR team unable to render support, I was guided in the wrong direction 99% of the times I approached the supposedly senior HR employee, who has been in the company for 5 years and even longer than the HR manager, who is here for 2 years. Is she deliberate? Or is she simply of no help to me? I guess the former.

My predecessor left because of her, only to my knowledge much later, which was 2 months after I joined the company. I still keep in touch with my predecessor, as whenever I am troubled with the job or the people here, I would turn to her for advice. From the very beginning, I had tried to sound her out a couple of times on her reasons for leaving, but she was tight-lipped. Only until 2 months into the job, when I confided in her that I was having some issues with some coworkers, then did she share with me the real reasons that pushed her to tender her resignation. Apparently, the senior HR personnel was jealous of her close relationship with the HR manager, as well as with other colleagues, that the former began to tell my predecessor lies, such as how the HR manager disliked the way she dressed, how the other colleagues disliked her and talked behind her back, etc.. None of those tales were true, she found out later. In the end, she left because she felt humiliated by how negatively the senior HR employee commented on her dressing. She felt it was a personal attack, no longer something to do with her work performance.

I have been very cautious around this HR person, ever since I joined this company. I admit that I judge people. I judge people based on their faces. I believe, a person’s character reflects clearly on his/her face. That is, you can tell what kind of a person you are dealing with, from his/her looks. In this case, this HR senior I have talking about has an unfriendly and scheming look. She tries to behave chummy to me, but we all know how villains stab their preys in the back while with all smiles on their faces.

One morning last week, a colleague, was asking for the binding machine and materials, as she had documents to prepare for her superior, and it was urgent for his appointment. In my near 4 months here, I have never seen the binding machine, but I knew that an ex-colleague was the one who was using it all the time. I went searching for it from one end of the office to the other end, and found it at the HR department. Then, I went to get the binding combs and covers, but I could not find the clear front cover in my stationery cabinet. I was appalled, as there is a big stack of back covers, but none of the front covers, which is not quite possible, as my predecessor was a detailed person who would order in advance more than sufficient stock. And I did not remember seeing the front covers even once in the past 3 months. I had no choice, but to ask the accountant, as I supposed other than HR, Finance colleagues would most likely be the one to do binding. But the accountant did not have any of the front covers, and she suggested reusing what we have for our staff handbook. I ran to my workstation to retrieve mine, and dashed back to where the colleague was doing binding, and realized that the clear cover I have was different from what the accountant has. Imagine my frantic, and the colleague who was doing the binding was in frustration, and suggested to ask the HR senior out from the HR manager’s room, where the team of 3 was having a teleconference meeting. I knocked on the clear glass door, and obviously, the HR manager was annoyed as she waved her hand impatiently, signalling me to get in, without looking up. I called the HR senior, and signaled her to come out. Then, mystery solved. She kept stacks of those clear front covers in her cabinet! I was not fed up, but relieved when we got the covers for the other colleague.

When I was back at my workstation, the colleague, who did the binding, came out to me twice, complaining furiously about how ridiculous and unreasonable the HR senior was. The former understood that the office stationery costs does not come from the HR department’s expenses, which means all items should be kept in the common stationery cabinet and be accessible by all employees. She was bitter about how selfish and mean the HR senior has been with her gestures and attitude. When I asked for the clear front covers from her earlier on that morning, she gave the displeased look, as if we were taking what had belonged to her. The frustrated colleague said she wanted to send an email to the HR manager, complaining about this matter, that no one should have kept any excess stationery to themselves, without informing me, the one in charge of ordering stationery supplies, that we had run out of it in the stationery cabinet. But I stopped her, explaining that the HR manager would have sided with the HR senior, and eventually, the blame would come to me, for not checking the inventory. In the end, she did not make the complaint, but was so pissed for the whole morning.

I have been sensing that the HR manager does not really like me, maybe even to the extent of disliking me. One can feel whether another person dislikes him/her from the latter’s attitude, behavior, or even simply a look. This morning, I affirm this feeling of mine. I was late yesterday, due to a train fault somewhere down the line in the opposite direction. Yes, the opposite direction. I wonder why it affected the direction I was travelling in, as well. Anyway, I was late for less than half an hour yesterday, and I made it up by starting work half an hour earlier today. I was at the pantry, doing my daily routine task, when she came in, she knew I was there, but she walked to the sink, dropped something, then walked to her room in the opposite direction, without looking up. Then, she came to the pantry again, this time walking past me to get some cookies, and briefly said a “Good morning”, without eye contact. I felt like a dead person right there and then. I have observed how she interacted with other employees, the other person I saw her “entertain reluctantly” was the colleague who was terminated on the spot last month. I suppose I will be the next to leave in that kind of circumstances.

I have begun looking for jobs. If nothing comes up, I am thinking of registering for a course, and change my career path. I am exhausted of this position and similar scenarios everywhere I have been. It seems to me, even clearer than ever, that HR personnel are assholes. They should be the ones preventing office politics and conflicts, and promoting work harmony. Yet, many of those I have encountered are agents from hell. I am contemplating to stay, due to the insurance benefits and annual leave entitlement. However, given the circumstances, and with the dignity I was born with, I doubt I will be here for long.

Buddha, please enlighten me and lead me to a better path. Thank you.

A Great Fall

I was on my way to work this morning. I had just woke up from my nap on the train, when I hurried out of the train at my stop. I was in a daze as I walked up the moving escalator, when I suddenly tripped and fell on the steps. I had a shock, and the Chinese lady, who looked like she was in her forties, asked me if I was fine. I weakly replied, “Ya,” and slowly got up on my feet, before I reached the landing. The spots on my left elbow, left thigh, both knees and shins, where I heavily brushed against the sharp edges of the escalator steps, felt hot and hurt. I was rushing out of the MRT station, feeling embarrassed. When I was some 300 meters away, only did I check my left elbow. I was worried that there was a bleeding wound somewhere, but my elbow was fine. I was late for work, and had to wait till I had completely my morning duties, before I could check on my knees and legs. I can foresee bruises by the end of today. Sigh…

At dawn, I was contemplating on getting sick leave for today. My gastric gave me troubles again on Saturday, I was having pains the entire day, and I vomited late at night. On Sunday, I was feeling weak and restless, and I could not eat properly, but little by little, like a bird. Early this morning, I was not exactly sick, but tired. If only I had decided to go on sick leave today, I would not have had that terrible fall. Sigh…

Now, my nape down to my right shoulder blade down to my back hurts. I must have sprained or pulled some muscles somewhere when I fell with my right hand on the grip. Sigh… How I hate the escalator. This was my second fall on an escalator. How I hate the clumsy me even more. Ever since I was a young kiddo, I have always been clumsy, as in I always fell on my knees. I had complained to my Mom that either my feet are malfunctioned, or my body cannot balance well due to my fat ass. Sigh…

Hopefully, my injuries are not serious. I will have gotta apply ointment tonight. Sigh…

How Do You Treat A Receptionist?

I have been working as a receptionist throughout these years, at several firms. Most of the colleagues (previous and current) regard(ed) me as one of them and are(were) pretty nice to me. Ironically, it is, and was, always those supposedly my teammates who take(took) me for granted, as if being a receptionist means being less of a human.

In my first job in this position, I was with a consulting firm, small and local. The salary was meager, though the little amount of daily work justified it. I was in my late twenties, and holding such a relaxing job made me feel bored and contemplate a more exciting work life. In additional to that, my so-called senior colleague who was guiding me, was not making my life easy. Though she had been promoted to a consultant level, and she had no business in my jobscope any longer, she still wanted to have a say in everything I handled. No, she was not my superior. My immediate superior then was not any better either. She was the Human Resource and Finance Manager, unmarried, in her fifties. She was an oddball, with no sense of etiquette, and the way she spoke put people off. I left the company after eight months of employment.

My second job in a similar role was with a project management company. The office was big and nice, housing just over thirty employees, and an Indonesian boss, who had never worked under someone else in his whole life. He was born rich, thus, smug. I did not get it from him, though I had heard him raise his voice at his Executive Assistant, as earsplitting as thunder. I was reporting to, again, the Human Resource Manager. All went well initially, except for the fact that the tea lady kept commanding me to do her tasks, such as cleaning the rooms after meetings, bringing out the glassware to soak in the sink at the common corridor, and such. At first, I helped her, out of respect, as she was an elder in her fifties. But as time went by, I realised how unreasonable she was, and that she was nice to others, but me. In my early thirties, I still felt young and arrogant. I complaint at least thrice to my immediate superior, who told me that she could not simply ask the tea lady to leave, without giving her chances to change and make improvement. Thinking back now, I miss this manager. She was really nice and lenient. If it was not for the fact that I was fearful of the active-volcano-alike boss, and that I could not understand and accept that I was reporting to two bosses – the other was the boss’ Executive Assistant, who was demanding (at least that was how I felt at that point of time), I would not have resigned. I got fed up with the tea lady and Executive Assistant finally, and left the company after six months into the job.

My third job in a front desk position was with a media firm, owned by an American and an Australian. I was reporting to the Financial Controller (better known as CFO elsewhere), who was a mean and immoral superior, in her fifties. She liked to be respected, which she did not deserve at all, and liked to be reported to on every single and little task, even when there was no progression and nothing to update her on. She was a control freak, who wanted to be the “third boss” and control every staff in every department in the company. She forbade interactions between employees from different departments. She would join different groups of employees for lunch and try to find out what they usually talk about (ya, insane, I know). She wanted to be in control of the recruitment process, though she was a Finance person, not Human Resource, and knew nothing about the requirement of the right candidate for each position. She forbade office romance, though there was no black-and-white. The office lovebirds were having underground relationships, and acting like strangers while in the office. The staff turnover rate was absolutely high, thanks to her. In three months, ten employees were laid off, four others resigned. I was one of the four. Of course, this horrendous culture did not stop after I left. She continued to torture every one of them mentally, be it her subordinates, or not. She was in the company for at least three years, but she was not trusted by the Australian boss. Though she was “in control” of the company finance matters, she was not even aware of information such as his Australian driving license number, and his previous local accommodation address. He clearly needed a personal assistant, but he was unwilling to spend extra in recruiting an extra headcount on “occasional ad-hoc tasks”, while forgetting how much his wife spent each month on luxuries in daily life. (Fine, it is not up to us to judge how he spends his money, but trust me, spending a few thousands on a personal assistant is a necessity for him.) I refused to take on his personal matters as part of my job, merely because I hate to have more interactions with the Devil than my job required. Being called to her room was enough to make me stop breathing. Seriously, I do not understand why she loves to torture others. She kept telling everyone how busy she was, and yet she had the time to mess with people’s life. My predecessor was driven away by her too. And the Human Resource Manager, who advised me to learn to manage my boss (aka the Devil), resigned too, not long after me. I was there for only three months, and I already felt life shortened by a decade.

My fourth job at the reception, is my current one. I am reporting to the Human Resource Manager, a Hong-Kong-born Canadian, in her early forties. She is not a HR person, nor a good manager. Why do I say that? As a HR person, you take into account of employees’ welfare and benefits, and you have a good listening ear, with patience. As a manager, you look after your team members, shield them from arrows from all directions, take the blames for them, counsel and guide them as and when necessary. She has been in this company for two years, and she still chooses to protect herself, if she has to make a choice between herself and her subordinate. My predecessor was on good terms with her, and was into the job for barely nine months, and was “sacrificed” by our superior several times. When my predecessor got chided by the boss’ Executive Assistant, many times, our superior failed to defend her. I think I am a little more fortunate than my predecessor, as in right from the beginning, my superior kinda protected me, by telling me not to help other departments in their tasks. They used to bully my predecessor by dumping their work to her. Though each was no tough deed, she did not have to be that busy with other people’s responsibilities, and not being appreciated afterwards. My superior always tell me, that she is very flexible, if I need to go off early for lunch, if I have something on, they are always around and willing to help cover for the reception. However, from today’s incident, I see a different thing.

I had scheduled a dental appointment at 11.30am, and had to leave the office fifteen minutes earlier. I informed and checked with them in the morning, but they had a meeting, which would last beyond 11.30am. In the end, I had to reschedule my appointment to a week later. They are always having meetings. And I am always stuck to the reception. Even at times when I have to fulfill my other tasks, away from the reception, I have to wait for one of them to come to relieve me, only then can I leave my workstation to carry out other tasks. If none of them are able to relieve me, I have to put off everything else, simply because “someone has to be at the reception, at all times.” Is this not insane? Is this not unreasonable? I am really pissed this morning, so pissed that I went to have Burger King for my lunch (I usually have cravings for fast foods and junk foods when I am upset), and took fifteen minutes more than my one-hour break (I usually take less than an hour each day). They were waiting for me to return from my lunch break, before they went off for theirs. They always go for breaks together. But I am used to having my breaks alone. I cherish the time by myself, in the middle of chaos. I usually have my lunch break after they come back from theirs. They would go for long breaks most of the times, as long as two hours at times, sometimes more. They know that I always bring sandwiches, and would eat at my desk whenever I feel hungry, hence, they always take their own sweet time. Though I get to have my one-hour break after they return. Sometimes I would take a nap in the store room, and other times I would go down to the mall for a walk. Today, I went to Swatch shop to change my battery, after I had my lunch at BK. The battery replacement was free, to my delight. And during the wait there, the salesperson tried to close a deal with me, showing me the new range and models and jewelleries. He was new, I could tell. I have no intention of getting a new watch, though I wish that he could clinch many deals with his sincerity. It took about ten minutes to replace the battery, and I took another ten minutes or so to walk back to my office. My superior looked unhappy, ever since this morning. I am uncertain if it was because my temporary HR personnel told her of my pissed face upon having to reschedule my dental appointment, or because their meeting did not turn out well. I do not care. I have been so annoyed myself, and thinking back on the past three months here, and whatever I have seen and heard, I have been contemplating my next move.

Anyway, is it simply because I am a receptionist, that these people think that they can mistreat me as they wish? Most people have been nice, I would say. However, it is the people whom I have to work closely with that make me sick.

 

倾盆大雨

起了个大早,正在准备上班,竟然下起倾盆大雨来!原本不愉快的心情便变得更加郁闷。

一起床,一想到上班,就不由自主地会想到那个只是个秘书却以为自己是老板的老女人。心情立刻就变得很不好。就在我拖着自己疲惫又不情愿的身子准备化妆时,老天爷就像是泼了我一头的冷水一样的噼里啪啦的下着大雨。我真的很讨厌雨天,尤其是在我要出门的时候。可恶!

一向提早出门的我,决定今天延迟面对外面的世界。一个小时。嗨…想到今天学校开课,一定又会挤到水泻不通…无奈!加上下雨天,人们似乎也就会比平时多很多(也不知道为什么),更是感觉非常的不期待出去。

我是有自闭症,还是群众恐慌症?

希望我能平安的度过这一天…