Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In between jobs

After I left Singapore Airlines and before leaving some of my other jobs, I attended several interviews for positions at quite a number of places. Most of the time, these were for Graphic Design or Marcomm posts, but I also applied for Customer Service positions and a few other generic jobs.

I usually ‘feel my way around’ at the start of an interview first to decide right away if I’m interested or not. Usually, it’s the initial ‘connection’ with the interviewer. Is he/she gonna be the person I’m working under? Does he/she seem pleasant enough? Is he/she faking it?

The longer the interviewer puts up a front, the longer I do too. If he/she seems genuine from the start, then so am I, and we see if we can connect. If I don’t like what I ‘feel’ from the start, then I usually just switch off and let the interviewer carry on as I decide what I’d like to have for lunch or wonder what’s on TV later.

Some interviewers act all bossy and strict, as if to come across as being professional and to test if an interviewee can handle the pressure. I think it’s stupid, cos if that’s really the plan, then that means he/she isn’t a boss, but just wants to BE the boss of you. That means he/she usually just bullies employees into getting things done.

I always believe that people should work for someone out of respect, not fear. Why be a leader commanding an army of men who fear you, when you can be a leader who commands people who RESPECT you. Bullies are just pricks with no balls.

Then there are the worthless half-wits who probably saw “Flight Attendant” on my resume and thought they’d call me in for an interview just for the heck of it. They don’t bother looking at portfolios or asking about graphic software proficiency. NOOOO… They just want some eye candy, hope that I’ll turn up in a skin tight kebaya with a slit that runs right up my thigh and maybe even luck out with a lap dance after some coffee and tea. #%*!@ morons! And they always, ALWAYS ask the same thing. “Waaaah, so you were a stewardess ha? Must be very glamorous ah. Why you quit?”

There was this guy who said I didn’t LOOK like a designer. There was this other guy who said my work wasn’t any good. There was this dude who said that all staff were ‘advised’ to spend every Friday night getting wasted together at a club as part of their office ‘teambuilding’ effort. And then there was The Butch.

Yeah, the scary butch whose desk was a chaotic clutter of papers, files and stacks of gold 555 cigarette boxes. She sat with her legs so wide apart as if she had more between them than any man, mammoth or bull had. I guess what’s worse than a bully with no balls is a butch bully with too much.

Before I joined the wine company, I actually worked at this one place in Singapore for just two days. It was a Customer Service position in a small outdoor-advertising company, located in the ‘ulu-ktulu’ Kaki Bukit industrial area. I insisted that I did not want to be a designer in their Graphics department, and the director was quite happy to hire me as Customer Service cum personal assistant. The pay was good, and throughout the interview, she discussed how I could “glow” with the company.

The only problem was the company was tiny. The office staff were made up of ONE admin/office manager, ONE accounts person, and me. There was another director, a few sales people and a small team of graphics people I never met since I got out of there while the ice was still intact.

The office manager was a married, but very effeminate middle-aged man. He was ol’skool. I mean, the typical chinaman-stingy-as-hell ol’ skool sort. My first day at work, he passed me a form, on which I had to sign a confirmation that I had received ONE blue ballpen, ONE pencil (no sharpener), ONE half-used eraser, ONE stapler, ONE row of staples, and get this, ONE paperclip. I had just come from “The Club”, where Jacky the supplies guy allowed us as many pens as our hearts’ desired and paperclips came by the box. But here, I had only ONE clip... One clip to bind them all... My precious...

The first half of the day was spent in ‘shock treatment’ orientation, with the stingy sissy showing me around the tiny office. Only He held a ‘special pass’ for the photocopier machine, and there was just ONE computer in the office, which also had ‘exclusive’ internet access, to which only He held the password.

If I needed to photocopy something, he’d have to approve it first and then reluctantly tap his ‘special pass’ at the copier. If I wanted to print something from the internet, he’d take a look at it, and say that we shouldn’t waste ink and paper. So I’d have to copy EVERYTHING down on an old piece of recycled office stationery with my ONE blue ballpoint pen.

The next segment of Shock Therapy was Filing 101. This old man probably never stepped into a Popular Bookstore before. It wasn’t as if the company was those “Go Green” sort. Plastic L-shaped folders and file dividers were unheard of here. Instead, I was instructed to cut up leftover scraps of glossy art paper and card stock from rejected colour proofs, to form makeshift L-shaped folders and file dividers, joined flimsily with sticky tape (I had to ‘borrow’ the cutting tools and sticky tape from the manager of course).

The final part of Shock Therapy was Literal Shock Treatment. This happened each time I went to the toilet. Switch on the toilet light – ELECTRIC SHOCK. Switch off the light – ELECTRIC SHOCK again. I could actually see sparks fly out of the light switch as the live current ran from my poor forefinger right to the nerves around my funny bone. I think it even tickled my armpits a little.

The office was also quiet, VERY quiet. No radio. No chit chat. No mad typing on keyboards or mouse clicks since there was just that ONE very special computer in the office. So I sat there at my empty desk, with my newly made paper files and MY PRECIOUS pen and paperclip, hoping I didn’t have to pee again, and praying I wouldn’t let out a sneeze, squeak or fart that would break the already awkward silence.

That night at home, I kept telling myself, “You need this job. You need the money. You need this job…”

So the next morning, I actually went back for more. I really can’t remember how I got through this second day. I think the director gave me an assignment, and I had to look up companies in the directory, make cold calls, make follow-up calls, and contact event companies for quotes for a joint-pitch for this really big job that I knew this place couldn’t handle.

I also went to the back of the office to grab more scraps of art card, and lo and behold! The ‘HUGEST’ grandfather cockroach ever! Shock therapy complete. I called in sick the next day, gave some bullshit story the day after, and never showed up again.

It really sucks to be in the ‘in between jobs’ stage. You’re either desperate to leave your current job, or desperate to get a job cos you already left your previous job because it reached a point where you said, Enough is enough! But being and feeling desperate sucks. Being piss broke sucks even more. Being desperate, piss broke, AND in debt sucks the worst. To make matters worse, you go for interviews where people try to bully you or tell you you’re not good enough. You get so desperate you actually take on jobs that you know in your gut isn’t right for you. Trust me, I know.

It’s not really a proud “been there, done that” moment. But it’s an experience that you will go through, a hardship that you WILL overcome, so that you can give others who are in the same boat Hope, because you survived.

There may not be fairytale endings, but clouds do have silver linings. Bet your bottom dollar, the sun DOES come up tomorrow. And believe it or not, miracles do happen. So hang in there, cos it might just be a day away.


Westin said...

yah man... bullies are just pricks without balls.

Bernadette said...

:o) Hope u're doing ok Wes... Haven't heard from u for some time.