Saturday, 19 February 2005

Do I look really that bad

...and scary or is it something else?

I've just transferred to another department in the company where I've been working since last year. Apart from my new part-time job which I like very much, this new (to me) department is a bit odd. For one, there are three managers and I haven't met any of them although I know who they are. I don't know which of the three is my line manager as their functions are the same. They just have different office hours and I can't figure out who is in when I am on. Confusing. I managed to find my way around the job by instinct and through bits of querries from colleagues who apparently just decided to just think of themselves as their own bosses. When I mentioned that I haven't signed a contract yet since I transferred to this new department, somebody helpfully remarked that I shouldn't worry as I would see the contract within a year, knowing how the managers do their job rather efficiently.

Since I start work in the afternoons, it's always unnerving to walk in, fresh and energetic, to see tired eyes which can barely glance at my direction. Or is it just their sense of foreboding when they see me? I don't know them yet, except their first names, but it feels strange to be new and different. They've seen me around for quite a while before I started working with them and I might have sat with them during our Christmas Party, I can't remember, but honestly, to be spoken to in a rather slow manner like I'm deaf or can't understand English is bizzare and a bit irritating.

At the staff canteen, I sometimes sit with the United Nations, that is, with colleagues from different countries: one is Dutch, there is also the chatty Portuguese who can speak 5 languages, an African, and a Cypriot. I don't know if the UN share the same sentiments because we didn't discuss this but speaking for myself, it's quite nice and spooky when treated REALLY nicely, with utter respect, by my colleagues. This is something I want to investigate at work. Was there ever a racist incident in this company? Do these people in this particular department suffer from agoraphobia, or better yet, asianophobia? Are they just very careful because they don't know how to deal with an Asian woman like me? Do I look that harsh to them that they're worried I would explode in their presence? Do I look like a walking time-bomb or just a stupid bore?

One time, after working late in the afternoon, I was in the backroom putting on my coat when a senior staff walked in. She didn't see me but somebody else in the room did. She asked, "Is everybody gone? Where's that one from China?"
The other colleague replied, "You mean Z? She's still here. Are you from China Z?" I said, "I don't even look Chinese!"

The senior staff was visibly embarra
ssed that she apologized to the mirror. "Oh, sorry about that." I didn't expect her to apologize to me but to talk about me like I haven't worked with them for quite a time and hearing a remark like that from a senior staff herself really miffed me. I didn't say anything after that. I left the building very upset and told K about it. The next day, this rude senior staff was soooo nice to me, then she asked if I could take charge of a section in the department.


Tony said...

It's good to know that not all from Surigao living in Britain are domestic helpers.

I'm not denigrating their status. After all they do contribute a lot to our economy.

But it's good to know that some Surigaonons like you and Don, a young professor at Oxford, are doing well and giving a more positive(maradjaw karadjaw)image to discriminating Britain.

We, Surigaonons, salute you.

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