Category Archives: Column worthy?

Cold / Warm

One of the first things I had to do when I started working was making cold calls. That and letter writing, in Japanese. That was really difficult, since I had never written a formal letter in that language before.

When I got to BT, I had to do more cold calls, mostly to analysts, merchant bankers and stockbrokers. It was scary at first. Imagine a rookie reporter with little clue on the story she was supposed to write and having to call all those busy people but don’t exactly know what to ask. Then when they actually talked to me (after almost exhausting the names on my list), I don’t quite understand what the jargons they were throwing at me. Had to consult various dictionaries and occasionally, the Bloomberg machine.

I was lucky my seniors were helpful and gave me a good list to start with, and I built my own network of contacts later. Still, when everyone’s engaged or not in the office and the boss is screaming your name, you’d wish you’re miles away from the newsroom.

Things got better after a while, the people I usually call would by then recognise my name. Stuff like “psychological barrier” or “occidental banking” became terms I gradually understood instead of going “huh?” every time I was hit by one.

I never thought the act of picking up the phone and call a stranger can be good but it is, because it actually helped me build up my ability to communicate. I learned the proper way to begin a call and, having some experience in the services industry, always say thank you at the end. Cold calls also helped me approaching people. Just a bit. Heh.

I don’t do much of cold calling nowadays but I still get a bit flustered when I have to. It’s like I know what I have to do and say but the words get jumbled up sometimes. I hate when that happens.

On the other hand, I don’t like receiving such calls, especially from hotels and resorts saying they want to invite me and “my husband” to this dinner talk or that lunch event. I try not to be rude but sometimes the nasty bit got out. Sorry.

One hotel, a certain “palace” in Sri Kembangan, had been calling me at least once a month since the end of last year. In March, I had requested that my name be taken off their calling list. But then came the call in May. I almost felt sorry for the guy who made the call. Almost but not quite. I repeated my request and asked for his superior’s name. It was Japanese, if I’m not mistaken. They haven’t contacted me since so I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with the lady. Hopefully never.

Walk together

My aunt had asked me to write an essay for her, about gender equality. In Malay. To say it was difficult is an understatement. Agak memalukan. But I finished it.

Writing the essay got me thinking about the topic. To say we have no problems concerning the matter is so not true.

If it is, we wouldn’t have had an MP going on about divorcees flirting with men at parties or a Minister, no less, calling female bloggers liars. We also wouldn’t have private corporations dictating how many kids its female employees can or can’t have.

And then there’s the chastity belt thing, the incest and rape cases, harrassments (which can happen to male or female) and so many more.

If you can elect into a high ranking public office a man who left his wife and kids for an unscrupulous person, you can certainly make allowances when a single mother needs an extra couple days off work because her kid is sick and the ex is ‘pre-occupied’ (whatever the pronounciation is).

If you boast having equal opportunities for all your employees, then you should make sure they get paid the same no matter male or female.

If the men can choose to be single til their 40’s, then don’t think the women are “just too choosy” when they are unmarried in their 30’s.

Some things just can’t be hundred per cent equal, no matter how much you argue. That’s the way it is. But you can’t just give in to social stereotypes and plain narrow-mindedness just because “that’s just the way it is.”

Welcome to Malaysia. How may I help you?

The PM formally bade welcome to visitors last Saturday, at our very own (rented-for-a-year) The Eye.

Tourism is the second largest contributor to Malaysia’s economy – not to mention foreign exchange earner – and the Government expects real numbers to total 10 per cent of this year’s GDP.

I don’t know if the RM250 million the Government is spending on VMY2007 will also be used to improve the quality of the service industry’s workforce, instead of just for facilities and organising events. Because I still hear stories of and actually experienced crappy service today.

A sloppily wrapped burger may be nothing to most of us but it’s usually the little things that can leave lasting impressions. You don’t know what picky means, Com once said, telling me how customers complain about little, little things when she worked at a fast food joint in London.

You may be assigned to man the ice cream section outside but if you decide to go in to the main section and only one counter was open when there are three customers in line, you should feel an obligation to shorten the queue by taking orders. And at the drive-through, you shouldn’t be sarcastic when a customer pointed out a mistake in the order. It might be the festivities season and your leave was cut short but the hungry person in the car doesn’t care because his stomach is making noises he won’t not able to drive if he doesn’t get his order in the next five seconds.

There are cabbies refusing to take customers to certain destinations. And when they do, some refuse to use the meter. There are nurses greeting the sick and the injured with dour faces and barking orders instead of politely requesting. There are Government officers passing the telephone call to every floor before one said the person in charge is on leave and your urgent matter will only be dealt with in a week’s time.

Maybe those at the front line like airport staff, hotel reception, etc, are well prepared to welcome visitors. But bus operators, train ticket sellers, parking attendants, restaurant servers, supermarket checkout person, these people will at one point encounter either out-of-towners or international tourists. You can’t please everyone, but at least make a concious effort to leave your grouchy self at home before you go to work.

That’s why I stopped selling cakes. After three hours, I’d have a plastic smile on my face with an almost frown to go with it. Even I wouldn’t want to be served by me. Hehe.

It’s like you never left, almost

Many of my friends based overseas are always happy to have me over. Like I can be at their place in a blink, at regular intervals la. I can understand why, I think.

Seeing how one of them surrounds herself with as many of her favourite people as she can in one outing whenever she’s back here, as if to make up for lost time. Life out there may be better (professionally or otherwise), but to have at least one familiar face with whom you don’t need to have your guard on, that can go a long way in preserving your sanity in a foreign land. Unless you’re half mat salleh to begin with before you got stuck in Kalamazoo. Hehe.

When you’re away from things you’ve been accustomed to most of your life, issues you thought trivial at home can be amplified ten times over. And that is scary. Bad days can turn to a bad month, or year.

But we human beings are usually able to adapt to any kind of situation we get ourselves into, don’t you think? Some may not handle change well and insist the environment should accomodate them. I’ve came across those types.

I found this story by chance – it was in my feed list – and I clicked on it only because Morecambe Bay sounded very familiar. The interview subject’s story may not be a typical Malaysian’s experience when going abroad either to study, work or migrate. But a bit of it is somehow universal.

How did she feel about having come to England? “Full of regret. I just didn’t know when I’d be able to pay the money back.” She would never admit it when she phoned home though. “No,” she grins ruefully, “Actually, I told them, I’m doing quite well. I wouldn’t tell them I was unhappy. But really, my life was miserable. Just working every day. Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep.”

You have a good life, financially, but you’re miserable without real friends. You get by alright, with good people around you, but you sometimes lie sleepless thinking of the next job available. That’s life. You can’t have it all. Those overly poor and the ultra-rich? I bet they have another set of problems you and I don’t need to know about.

Home is where you feel it is. Once you set your heart and mind to it, next is working to really make it into one.

– – –

I was told, again, that I tend to write very cryptic one liners. Hehe. And the other day, Mr. Everyday said I shouldn’t restrain myself from anything. Cryptic, restrained. That sound just about right.

Moving rapidly

It was public transport day for me today, after listening to RY promoting RapidKL buses from TTDI to Sentral for weeks. As the bus stop was nearby, I decided to have a go at it. Travel time to KL Sentral was 40 minutes, another 15 by LRT to Ampang Park, and a short walk to my destination. Not too bad I thought, but the trip back was longer, as it included a 20 minute wait under the sun, so it was 90 minutes instead of 70 of travel time.

What I can say from my first bus ride in almost five years is that the physical condition of buses have definitely improved and they are usually on time. However, lack of public education on changes done on bus routes and fare structures, as well as the still hazy information on where to wait for which bus can turn potential users off.

Total travel time: 1.10 + 1.45 = 2.55 hours
Total spent: RM2 (1 day pass) + RM4 for LRT on touch n go = RM6

If I’d have drove or park n ride, my travel time would be at least half of today’s, although I’d be spending about the same amount for LRT or / and parking fee, and the toll. On top of fuel cost.

However, RY pointed out that travel time can, in time, be reduced if there are less cars on the road during peak hours on weekdays. That reminded me of a scene from Singles, when the Mayor type guy told Steve “but I love my car” when Steve was pitching for a super train to be introduced in Seattle.

I told RY that it’s the same with most KL-ites who drive almost everywhere because they’d rather be in their own space, with air conditioning and ability to sing or scream on top of their lungs without others listening. Unless they’ve got the window down. Haha.