Sunday, September 28, 2008


When I was just 17, I had finished my first year of uni at a local college. I had a 3 month break before I was supposed to fly off to the UK for the second year. I could have chose to bum around like all my friends did, but I ended up doing an internship stint with a local company which turned out to be the most educational 3 months of my life.

It was my first ever job and my boss turned out to be one of the most awesome people I had ever met (he still is). I was taught (drummed into me, in fact) that work ethics were the single most important thing in the working world. It doesn't matter if you are smart or stupid, but if you do the job you are paid to do, half the task would be accomplished.

Countless times I've woken up to a spinning headache after a late night out, and countless other times I've woken up after a long holiday, dreading to go to work, but I have never called in sick or made excuses to come in late. It's not that I love my job, or hate my job - it's plain and simple that I am being paid to do it.

On Saturday, I was offered free grandstand tickets to the Singapore F1 race. I had to say no. I couldn't take leave on Monday because my Muslim colleagues had already gone on their long leave. My friend asked me to call in sick. Another told me to ponteng half a day and nobody would notice (which was true since all the bosses are on leave for Raya). Another told me I was an idiot for even thinking twice about it. I was tempted. Very tempted.

I got off the phone, started thinking of how I was going to make the trip down, when I then realised that I couldn't do it. I had never skipped school before, never skipped work - and so it didn't make sense to start now. Sure, it was FREE grandstand tickets to the first ever Formula 1 night race, but I just couldn't do something like that. I couldn't just take the money that people pay me at the end of the month, knowing that I had cheated them out of it. I called back my friend and said that I had to pass. She said she never heard me sound so sad before.

I spent pretty much the whole weekend feeling like shit that I passed up a great chance that I will probably never get again, but knowing that it was the right decision (or so I tell myself). The thing is, when I woke up this morning I felt really proud of myself.

And let me tell you this - in my book, there is no greater feeling than that.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

it's not about the popcorns!

The last book I managed to finish entirely in one sitting was Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture. I had 3 hours to kill in KLCC, so I waltzed into Kinokuniya and picked up a book that seemed the most interesting. I had never heard of him before but I would later learn that I read it on the very same day he passed away.

In the book, he talked about a time when he was a kid and he went to Disneyland with his parents and his sister. His parents then allowed them to roam free on their own for a while. His sister and him, grateful that they were granted that freedom by their parents, decided to buy them a present from the gift shop with their remaining pocket money. When they walked out of the gift shop, he somehow dropped the package and broke the mug that they bought.

Distraught, and on the verge of crying, they were ready to walk away when a stranger approached them and asked them to try to go back into the gift shop, tell the store manager their story and see if they could get a new mug. Randy couldn't believe that it could be done - he knew it was his fault, but he tried it anyway. To his surprise, the store manager agreed on the spot to give him a new mug and even apologised for not wrapping it enough, causing it to break when it was dropped.

The book goes on to say how Randy collaborated with Disney many times during his professional career and how his parents were so impressed with Disney's customer service that they ended up giving Disneyland back more business over the years just because of a $12 mug. He then questions - if you are in the service industry, does your company have a policy that would allow your staff to do what the Disneyland guys did? Would your managers punish a store clerk for giving an 8 year old kid a new mug to replace one that he broke? You claim that your customers are always right and that you will do anything to please them. Are you really?

Going back to my previous story about the popcorns, it was really about the popcorns. It didn't hurt me that I didn't get to have the popcorns. In fact it was healthier that I didn't get to indulge in junk food. Indeed, I walked away, thinking what a muppet the counter lady was, walked into the cinema hall, watched the movie and then went home and blogged about it.

It would have stopped there if not for the comments of a few people who seemed to think that it wasn't the girl's fault - and when I thought about it, it probably wasn't. I could blame her for her stupidity and her indescretion, but this job has thought me that you can't blame RM5/hour workers.

There is something incredibly stupid about a management that thinks that they cannot trust their workers with popcorn to the extent that they need to keep track of how many boxes are left at the end of the day. Dammit, you're not selling boxes of gold, it's popcorn for fucks sakes! How much popcorn can your employees steal a day? How much money do you lose from your employees eating your goddamn popcorn?

Take that into consideration, versus the number of people you annoy and the sales you fail to make just because you didn't have the right sized box, and we have a damn stupid policy with which someone needs to be shot.

I know, it's just freaking popcorn.

But there's a lesson to be learnt everyday and best you learn from other people's stupidity.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

idiot watch, part 932523

*conveniently translated into English*

"Hi, I would like a light & sweet popcorn please"

"That's less sugar, you know" (They say it EVERYTIME. It's as though they were trained)

"Yes, please."

"What size?"

"Small, please"

*searches under the counter, comes up holding a large box*

"I am sorry, no more"

"No more what? There's loads of popcorn there!"

"Popcorn got. No more small box. We only have large box."


"Would you like a large box?"

"NO. I want a small light & sweet popcorn!"

"But sir, we are out of small boxes. We only have large boxes left."

I look at her like she's the dumbest cow in the whole world.

"Can't you just use the large box and just put in less. I dunno...like fill it up half way?"

"Cannot. We don't sell the popcorn, we sell the box."

"What? WHAT?!?! You sell the box?!? Look I just want a small portion of popcorn. Just go ask someone else who knows."

Our village idiot then proceeds to call over her co-worker, who then tries to tell me the same thing.

"Sir, we are out of small boxes. Only large boxes left."

"Yes, I don't care. Give me a large box, or whatever. Just give me a small portion"

"Sir, we can't do that. We need to sell you a large portion."

"But why? You're not making sense!"

"Because we don't sell by the portion. We sell by the box."

At this point, I realise that arguing with idiots is futile, so I just walk away with the consolation that this makes another good story for idiot watch.