Monday, 21 November 2005

My goodness, don't they know what dirt is?

I miss working in Surigao. It was easy to just sit down after work to eat banana Q with liters and liters of Coke. The chit-chat was relaxing as well, especially if the conversation centers on someone's love affair, or the absence of it. When everyone gathers around peanuts spread across the working table and the conversation is so animated you would think they're going to redo the mission-vision, then think again: these people are simply talking about why, despite the age of 68, Mrs X is retiring, when she would get her PERAA (I think this has something to do with private pension), what she would do with the money despite it being well-known that her list of credit is longer than a department's modules all put together.

I am still updated of what's going on there. And they have incomparable problems!

The constant disturbance of resignation/retirement affects everybody like it's the strangest thing to ever happen in a company. The allusion when someone is told of one's departure is that of increasing amount of work but not of pay. Meanwhile, the company that keeps on giving more work to these underpaid people constantly appeal to their "loyalty" and "pride" like it's some bleeding charity organisation. Apparently, the employees are thought of as monks who do not have families to support, children to look after, lives and careers to pursue. They are expected to devote their days in the fulfillment of the vision-mission while being hammered during seminars on the importance of family time.

Still I would say, I miss working there. The work-leisure balance is incomprehensible, unless you don't consider eating banana Q while chatting outside break time as leisure. Imagine my surprise when I started working in England without the benefit of banana Q or peanuts and the luxury of gossip? And I was horrified, horrified beyond belief when I encountered these in every office/company I've worked with:

The computer monitors and keyboards have never heard of "dusting-off". They were installed on table-tops thinking that they need dust in order for them to work properly, for why would they coin the term virus if their job is not meant to spread the power of bacterial communication?

I understood the beauty of the word "swirl". This is what people do with their coffee/tea mugs. No, they don't wash and rinse their breaktime gadget. Before a cuppa, they would simply put a bit of water to their mug, swirl to remove any un-dried particles from yesterday's drink, as if, then throw, i mean, whisk away that bit of water and add the desired tea/coffee/hot water.

People don't eat during break time; they just drink. Until now, I still wonder if it's because they eat proper meals or they overeat unhealthy food.

When they open pages of books/several sheets of paper, they stick out their tongue and wet a finger before leafing through the pages. Can you imagine the variety of DNA samples available in every invoice in the office? The thought of it makes me sick actually.

But then again, they flush their toilets. So who am I to complain?

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Not even Madonna could distract us from our foul mood.

Dear Z

Last night, it took you an hour to gather strength to say sorry to me.

Madonna had just sashayed into the arms of Parkinson when you woke up crying and couldn’t be comforted. I was irritated—of your crying and of Madonna’s nerve to display her svelte figure amid the dangling mass of skin under her arm when she waved to the audience. For a second there, I hoped you saw her did it. You would have been comforted instantly, but no, you were too preoccupied saying I CAN’T to everything we offered you.

I decided to be firm with you, to stick to my guns, to let you learn in a hard and tearful way that you can’t just wake up in the night crying simply because the results of X-Factor had been announced and it was Parkinson’s next.

When Daddy laughed because you were screaming and throwing away teddy Graham and monkey-lion Mick and you looked funny in your nightshirt dribbled with snot and tears, I blew up. How could he laugh at you? How could he be inconsistent with me? I was trying to discipline you by ignoring your tantrums because I wanted to listen to Madonna. So I turned off the television and the lights and declared to both of you to stay in the lounge the rest of the night because you ruined my communion with the pop star. I went back to my crocheting fuming because Daddy finally comforted you.

When you were finally tucked up in bed, you started crying again. I had to ignore you because I had been annoyed for the past three nights when you kept on waking up in the night to be soothed with Vicks vapour. I didn’t mind it at all because you had cough and colds but you had recovered and I didn’t want to continue soothing you for no apparent reason except that you just wanted to disturb my nighttime chat with daddy, or my reading, or my programs on tele. It’s just unacceptable.

I rushed you to Daddy because it is also unacceptable for him to deposit you to me simply because he got fed up as well. What? After giving in to you despite my admonitions not to? After negotiating with you despite the advice of Super nanny that it’s a no-no? When he kept on telling you to go back to me to apologise and you kept on insisting I CAN’T, I understood you. I knew you couldn’t think of any reason why you should say sorry to me. I wasn’t surprised when after an hour of coming in and out of our bedroom you finally got exhausted. It was almost midnight and you just wanted to be cuddled to sleep but you had to apologise first for crying and you couldn’t because it was your only way of saying to me and daddy, “will you bloody make up your minds how to handle me in my night time distress?” Or was it your only way of teaching us a lesson that we can’t reason with a three-year-old in the middle of the night?

I am sorry but you will understand in time what it's like for a parent to have her bad moods played back to her by her own son. I assure you it's not at all funny.


Sunday, 6 November 2005

When Firefighters start the fire

Last night, we took Z to bonfire and fireworks night. We told him he might see Fireman Sam and the fire engines. Unfortunately, the firefighters wore this neon jackets and Z didn't recognize them. He was also disappointed that there were no fire engines that night.

It was my first time to join the event as well. The council organised it so I thought it must be something exciting, nevermind the historical significance of it all.

So there we were. Everybody gathered around this huge pile of wood. Two firefighters ignited the heap and everybody became excited. I supposed that more than 90% of the attendees had not seen fire in their lives. After an hour and exaggeratingly expensive jacket potato and alarmingly dizzying rides, everybody oohhhd and ahhhd at the fireworks display.

So Guy Fawkes night ended with a bang, and a big hole in our pockets.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

I hate


For one, I can never be honest. I have to b*llsh*t to give a smart answer. I have to say what the interviewers want to hear. Most interviews I've been to didn't get the best out of the interviewee. I leave the interviewers feeling muddled, not because I wasn't able to present myself smartly but because I saw no point in the questions asked. Mostly irrelevant. No direction. Purely political correctness.

I'm saying this because K does interviews to applicants who wish to work abroad through a charity organisation. And I am impressed by the way they do things. Although the process takes a whole day but they put applicants in positions where they can be observed from a distance while problem solving or interacting with other applicants. They have a way of getting the best out of every person as well as identifying weaknesses which could affect the job in question.

My first job interview in England was at a hospital. I've only been in England for a few weeks at that time and I didn't have any idea at all how people do things. I didn't have a grasp yet of work culture nor of British sense humour. I was a foreigner: not assimilated, not acclimatised (was still wearing jumpers during the hottest summer of the decade), couldn't understand thick northern accent, and in typical Filipino stupidity, didn't bother to check the British equivalent of my degree because of typical Filipino arrogance that I could speak English!

Anyway. For the sake of experience, the job I applied for was Filing Clerk. Chicken. Kasajon.

During the interview, I went through the normal (and for me, senseless) describe-yourself-why-do-you-think-you-can-do-this-job-how-do-you-interpret-equal-opportunities sort of thing.

Then. What do you think would be the biggest challenge you would encounter in this job?

I replied with half-sincerity but with typical Surigaonon sense of humour: Filing!

The interviewers laughed but remember that the job was Filing x-ray results kept in tattered envelopes.

Next question. How would you improve the filing system, having seen and observed it before this interview.

With all honesty, I said: I would tidy the whole place up. It's a mess, the envelopes are tattered and some labels are out of place!

The interview ended.

Of course I didn't get the job!

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