Wednesday, April 26, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 2:38 pm

Today is just another one of those scorching hot days, I thought to myself as my colleagues and I were crossing a very busy road. We were headed towards this coffee shop that we regular pretty often, just down the road, for lunch.

After we were all seated and had placed our orders, we proceeded to have a little chat. We talked about the poisonous bosses and vicious backstabbers in the office. It was a little chat indeed. I never said it was an innocent and simple talk, did I?

As I was sipping on my chrysanthemum tea, I felt something brushing against my knee. It felt like someone running a feather against my knee (but I was pretty sure no one would or could do such a thing). I stamped my feet a little to get rid of the tingling feeling, while looking underneath the table – just to be sure that nothing was there. It could be a cat with a really long tail, who knows.

After a few minutes, I felt the tingling sensation again but this time it came from just beneath my knee. I was pretty convinced that it was a cat with a really long tail running past me as that was the most logical explanation - the cat was so quick that I couldn't see it. It couldn’t have been the wind (or anything else logically possible) as there was no wind at that time. Hence I looked underneath the table again but still no cat with a really long tail or anything of suspicion. I then took my hand to brush my leg and then resumed the conversation.

Before long, I felt the same sensation again on both my knees (not simultaneously).

I reached towards my knee again. As I was just about to brush my knee, I shifted my glance downwards and caught a glimpse of some foreign object just beneath where my skirt (which is knee length) ended. At first, it looked like my skirt had torn because it was black in colour – similar to the colour of the skirt I had on today.

Then I looked closer and realised that the freakiest insect ever had been roaming on my legs.

It was a freaking cockroach!!! OMG!!!

Very quickly and suddenly, I stood up and started to rid it off my knee. It was off in no time and my heart was pumping like I had just escape from King Kong who was chasing me with the intention of feasting on me as appetizer.

I cannot believe it was molesting my legs for such a long time and I had not chased it away. Imagine what it could have done - it had more than enough time to reproduce and build a home. Mind you, not reproduce or build a home with me, but with some female cockroach – assuming it was a male cockroach, of course. Anyway, it had to be a male cockroach or it wouldn’t be molesting my legs in the first place. Then again, it may be a female cockroach that is a lesbian. Whatever.

Anyhow, I felt so… Dirty and used. I was raped by an insect. Sigh!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 1:36 pm

I was at Maju Curry House (a high class “mamak” near my office that my colleagues and I sometimes go for our routine dose of unhealthy grub) for lunch.

On my plate was very little rice (a Malay man commented that it was “Not half, not one quarter but one eighth” of his portion), a lot of long beans, a hard boiled egg, a honey chicken drumstick and an omelette. I know I eat a lot (aside from the rice bit) but I didn’t ask for your opinion. By the way, please be informed that I am very much still a growing adult hence it is only healthy to indulge in my regular consumption.

As I was sipping on my lime syrup, one of my colleagues squinted to see something behind me. I asked him what was going on and he shrugged. Being the busybody (it’s normal to be one because I am a Malaysian) that I am, I turned my head to check out the situation.

A few feet away from the entrance of Maju, I saw an enormous crowd of people circling something (which happened to be the highlight of the day). Of course, I couldn’t see the thing / object / article they were circling as there were too many of them.

After lunch (some 20 minutes later), the crowd had not subsided an inch. Hence I too, went to join the Malaysian crowd of busybodies. I failed to see anything from the back of the crowd as I am (very sad to say) too short.

However, some of my colleagues did manage to catch a glimpse. Apparently, it was a girl who got knocked down by a Metro bus. Her brains were sprawled on the tar road close to her body, which was already covered with newspapers and plastic bags. There were patches of blood almost everywhere…

That must have been quite a sight. Sad and horrifying.

Apparently the Metro bus that knocked her down made an illegal turn into the road and did not see the poor girl. I must say, bus drivers can be really reckless and irresponsible. If and unless they were taught a lesson, they will never change. Then it would be too late, wouldn’t it?

Due to their thoughtless attitude, two very ill-fated parents had lost a daughter. What’s worse, this is probably only one in the goodness knows how many other cases.

If there are any bus drivers reading this, I have a few messages for you:

  • I think bus drivers are the lowest form of humanity;
  • You have a two-faced way of life that seems to be a requirement for the job;
  • Being behind the wheel in stop and go traffic over the same route day after day is a part of your job so learn to accept it and not vent it out on other motorists / people;
  • I am beginning to wonder how much you REALLY paid to get your license;
  • Quit thinking you are king of the road just because your vehicle is bigger;
  • It is immoral to bully other motorists / people on the road for whatever reason you may have;
  • Sticking to your schedule isn’t everything in the world;
  • I don’t even feel like bringing up the on whether or not you deserve the demanded increase in bus fares for the quality of service you provide;
  • All of you should seriously learn how to drive; and
  • Bus drivers suck so bad that even a glorified bus driver still sucks.

This list is not exhaustive but I will end here to prevent my blood vessels from bursting.
Friday, April 21, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 8:46 pm

I am really frustrated. So frustrated that I can climb Mount Everest a dozen times without a single word of complain.

When I first joined my current workplace, I was really green, as I knew nothing about the industry or its processes. My manager back then was awesome (let's refer to him as Mentor), who led a team of 5 people – including me. Mentor is without doubt a very good manager as he is experienced and managed the team well. He knew how to coach me and hence worked me to my full potential.

Back then, I used to do a lot of what is known as spreading accounts (for all my team members). Spreading accounts basically involves interpolating figures from audited accounts into the bank’s personalised system of financial tabulation. It was pretty interesting back then, learning how to do it and getting the hang of it. After a while though, it is nothing more than a routine and mundane task that I can no longer benefit from…

Mentor, being an experienced manager (he knew how to handle freshies like me), pushed me into the water all the time but just deep enough for me to learn how to swim. When I learnt how to swim at that certain depth / level, he would push me deeper and so on so forth. Therefore I didn’t spend all of my time just spreading accounts, I was actively involved in various productive tasks. Although they were very much of a challenge to me, I never did once complain.

I always gave my best, as I felt fortunate that I had such a supportive mentor and I respected Mentor very much. He spent a lot of time coaching me on processes, terms and issues. From what I had observed, he is knowledgeable and very much technically sound. He would effortlessly explain things to me whenever I had queries or came across any difficulties in my day-to-day tasks. Aside from the job, he is courteous and gentlemanly. He knew how to treat his team well, keep them together and cultivate team spirit.

Alas, he left a little more than 3 months after I had joined the bank. My happiness was short lived as an existing team member, let's refer to him as Lemon, took over his place. Lemon seemed alright to me back then but little did I know that he would be another one of my dreaded manager from hell – after Donkey, of course (please refer to my previous entry:
15 Months of Torture). No one can be as bad as Donkey, however bad they are...

Lemon is nothing like Mentor or rather, nowhere near to being as capable as Mentor in every aspect that I can think of. When he first took over, he was really occupied because it was peak season (plus many other factors). Not only he didn’t have the time to coach me, he was always putting on a long face and only gave me short replies to queries that I posed. At certain times he would even scorn at me or pose cut and dry remarks at me.

Hence after a while, I had decided to stop approaching him and started to find things out on my own (mainly from reading) as I rendered him to be totally unapproachable. I did that for the next 2 months and learnt that reading without hands on experience is equivalent to almost nothing. Mentor understood that hence he gave me reading materials and exposed me to real life situations at the same time. In those 2 months, I did nothing but spread accounts and administrative tasks (faxing, photocopying, filing, etc) everyday.

That point in time (after the 2 months) kind of marked the end of peak period so I thought things would change for me after that. Hence I did not mention anything to Lemon about the unproductiveness of my tasks because I thought it was temporary. I thought he needed me to assist with the administrative matters and groundworks during the peak period to ease my team's burden so I just closed one eye. Little did I know that he could not be bothered about my growth and development in the bank – and instead, prioritise his own needs.

There were several times when I asked him technical questions, he would exclaim at the fact that I did not know the answer. It is funny because if he never did coach me, how am I to be informed? Mentor had hardly 4 months to coach me and I couldn’t possibly have learnt much in that time period, especially not the technical things – thought I had definitely learnt more in that time than my whole time under Lemon (which is almost 6 months now). He expects me to know almost everything, unlike Mentor who is aware of how much one in my position should know.

I have a colleague who joined at the same time as me and she is lucky, because she has a team leader just like Mentor. Her team leader told her that technical knowledge in this job is gained through hands on experience, hence no reading material could be equivalent and neither is it available. It is a shame that Lemon puts me down the way he does and not being supportive towards me - I am truly disappointed.

So finally, after enduring months of stagnant growth, I finally decided to confront Lemon about it. I realised that he is not going to do anything about my situation and neither does he realise it in the first place. During the confrontation, I clearly spelt out that I wish to stop spreading accounts as I already had an overdose of it (imagine doing it almost everyday for almost 10 months) and I could no longer benefit from it.

He disagreed and kept insisting that I can learn from it if I try. I told him that I’m only doing that as groundworks, not as part of the process of putting up a paper (by which, yes, I will be learning). He then claimed that he could ask the secretaries to spread the accounts but he wanted me to do it because I could benefit from it. Basically, he just kept going around telling me how it is good for me to continue spreading accounts.

With that, we kept throwing the ball around.

Finally, he had no choice but to give in to me. He agreed and added, “But can you still help out sometimes?”

That last question confirmed all of my suspicions. What suspicion?

I suspected that he could not care less about my development in the bank. I suspected that I was only there to do all the elementary stuff for the team. I suspected that I am nothing more than a highly paid secretary to him. Hence, I suspected that because of all the reasons above, he needed me in the team.

If he claimed that the secretaries could do the job, why should he ask me if I could still help out? I was not born yesterday – I’m more intelligent than he thinks and I’m definitely worth more than just doing elementary and administrative tasks. He just needed me to do all the “shit” work and after he saw how determined I was, I think he was a little surprised. The way he concluded it by asking if I could still help out (his definition of self reassurance and mine of revealing all truth) showed that he was afraid there would be no one to do the “shit” work if I don’t. The secretaries, you ask?

Come on.

That was just a line he pushed in to convince me that spreading accounts would do me good. If he could get the secretaries to do it (as he had claimed), why the reassurance? Of course, you have to understand, the secretaries could definitely do it. The only downsides are that they can never be as efficient or competent in getting the job done, as compared to me. So why get them to do it when you can waste one of your subordinates to get the job done effectively? Not that you have to pay your subordinate - nothing could be better than an expensive secretary at the expense of the bank.

It was already been 3 weeks since the confrontation. Result: Nothing has changed. I am still doing the same things and I am on the verge of exploding like a volcano that has been inactive for years. To make things worse, he keeps reiterating to me (these past few days, especially) that spreading accounts is beneficial. This has made it even clearer to me his thoughts and intentions of having me around and if this is how he sees things, it will be wise for me to go.

The other managers have already told their subordinates (of the same rank as myself) to stop spreading accounts and to move onto more productive tasks. I am very sure Mentor would do the same if he was still my manager. Right now, I am the only one left behind while all of them from my batch have explored far and wide.

As I have mentioned earlier, my team consists of 5 people. I think 2 words will describe the team very well: Fallen apart. None of us are really close to each other (as opposed to the other teams) and there are cold wars going on between some of the team members. The best part is that Lemon does not realise that this team is not at all united - or so that's what he portrays to believing. I am not sure whether he’s in denial or he’s being positive…

Whenever he does coach me, he struggles to explain things to me. Initially I thought maybe he’s just not good with words but later on, I found out that even his knowledge is nowhere as vast as Mentor’s. He struggles to even explain something simple to me - that only showed me that he doesn’t have a good understanding. It’s like me explaining physics to someone, I do know the ins and outs but I will struggle even when it comes to the simplest things because my foundation isn’t strong.

Earlier today, I seek his help to balance the accounts that I have spread as I was unable to do so. He then said I do not deserve my degree and I laughed it off. Then he asked me what’s the problem with my senior (another team member) and I as we both could not balance accounts. I don’t think it’s fair for him to compare because she is more senior than me and she should know, as compared to myself because I’m still learning. I’m being paid less than her for a reason.

Anyhow, I stood around for 20 minutes waiting for him to balance the accounts but he was still struggling. When Mentor was still around and I approached with that problem, he would finish everything in 10 minutes – balancing the accounts and explaining to me where the problem arose. He would not say degrading things to me and would encourage me, and teach me what to do so that similar problems would not occur. Anyway, Lemon passed the accounts back to me to balance (as he had failed to do so - maybe he does not deserve his degree too, huh?) and I had managed to do so after consulting some other colleagues.

No doubt Lemon can put up papers very well as he has got good credit knowledge. However, he is really lack of social skills (which is very important in the job). I only noticed that a few days ago when I was out to meet clients with him but I have already been told about it some time ago - I just never believed it previously. He is somewhat older than the other managers in the department but his rank is still lower than theirs… That does tell something, doesn’t it?

Many a times I have heard that he does not have the experience or ability to become a manager. He only got to where he is today by a stroke of good luck – Mentor’s resignation was a very natural trigger. Initially I did not believe what I had heard as I knew the intensity of rumours, but slowly, I began to see it. In fact, there were many other things that I have heard but never believed and now, I am beginning to see the light in all those words.

When I was under Mentor, I felt very motivated at work. I felt like doing more, reading more and learning more. Now everyday feels like a drag to me, so much so that sometimes I feel that this is the right time for me to resign. As my ex-MD said, “When you feel that everyday is a torture and you have to drag yourself to work or you feel useless and ineffective in the office, that is when you should resign.” For me the latter applies.

I guess it’s just my luck to end up with lousy managers. It was the case with my first job and looks like history is repeating itself. Actually, they are bad in different ways. The first one was mentally unsound but provided me a lot of opportunities to develop. This current one is mentally sound but does not provide me opportunities to develop.

A or B, take your pick.
Monday, April 17, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 2:52 pm

I feel so awful now that I just have to blog about it.

My forehead feels really heated up, my eyes feels like they are glued together, my nose feels like it’s going to fall off anytime, my mouth feels sore, my throat feels like it’s on fire and my whole body feels like jelly made out of fire.

If I am given a bed right here right now, I swear that I can fall asleep without a problem in less than a minute. All that I’m feeling is horrible and I wish it would go away.

My head keeps falling lower and lower. So much so that I think it will hit the keyboard very soon - that is, if I do not take the effort to retain it in the correct position.

This “prime time” that I face everyday (extreme sleepiness in the office) usually comes after lunch – as with most people. Today’s however, is just too intense for me to even begin describing it.

What’s worse is today is Monday. Monday blues has got to be the worst symptom in the world… I think. Friday best will always be the greatest.

Anyway, the reason for all my uneasiness?

The “tom yam kung” I had for lunch at Secret Recipe.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 10:43 am

I was in Little Penang (Mid Valley) for dinner.

There I was happily munching on my “fried kuey teow” and slurping my “ice kacang” when I heard some annoying chattering.

I quickly turned my head to the right. There was an Indian waitress and a Chinese waiter standing in the corner (which was actually just beside where I was seated). They were supposed to be serving customers or doing something productive, not standing rooted to the spot gossiping.

Just 2 tables besides mine, a family of 4 stood up to leave as they were finished with their meal. The Indian waitress said to the Chinese waiter, “Go clean and wipe the table. I have to stand here and see if anyone needs me, so I can attend to them.” Typical.

So off the Chinese waiter went. Her dictatorship was continual and she displayed it every single time there was something to do (and when the Chinese waiter was there, of course). That made me really tempted to tell her off. This is what I would have said if I did:

“You fucking Indian bitch! Who do you think you are? All you do is just stand there and order people around. Do you actually get paid to do that? You don’t even have the slightest authority to do that – if anyone does, it’s either the supervisor or manager. You are just a low-life nobody. What’s more, you stand at a hidden corner, hoping no one would see you so you won’t have to do anything. You think I don’t know? You and your kind should be banished from the face of the Earth!”

Anyway, when the Chinese waiter returned (for the 101st time), she started chattering to him again. I don’t think he actually said anything because I don’t remember ever hearing his voice. Chances are he felt the same about her as I did, just that he’s a nice and patient guy.

Seriously, I don’t know why he even bothers to give people like her any face. If I were him, I would give her 3 tight slaps, tell her to shut the fuck up and keep her thoughts to herself because I wasn’t in any manner interested to listen to them.

I was busy slurping my “ice kacang” again when the Indian waitress said, “See that handsome man over there? At the left corner? The one drinking the coffee?” From the corner of my eye, I saw her making some gestures towards his direction. I didn’t bother looking (at her of the man she was referring to) but I really wanted to hear the saga of this conversation - it sure is going to be good.

The Chinese waiter must have acknowledged because she stopped gesturing. She then said, “A while ago, I served him his coffee. He must have noticed that I was an Indian girl and thought I was really special or something because he looked at me and smiled.” That was followed by a superbly flirtatious giggle.

I swear to God that the red beans and corn I just swallowed almost came out through my eyes and nose. OMG… That Indian waitress really left me in a state of severe awe. I felt so much like telling her that she looked worse than a pile of good for nothing shit.

But since I am a very nice person, I drank some water to ease the movement of the red beans and corn downwards (instead of upwards), and continued to slurp my “ice kacang”.
Monday, April 10, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 3:48 pm

I was out for lunch with 3 of my colleagues (big boss, immediate boss and senior) and 4 clients (all from the same company, of course). The venue was Chinese restaurant at Eastin Hotel. I cannot recall the name of the restaurant but I was really looking forward to the lunch - I always do because corporate lunches are good stuff.

Our table was in a private room. When the 4 of us reached the room, the clients had already arrived. Hence we performed the customary courtesy gestures and exchanged business cards.

After we were all seated and engaged in a friendly conversation, the waitress prepared to serve our first course. As all the courses came in a bowl / plate, the waitress would divide them equally into individual bowls / plates for each of us.

I never was and never am an expert in Chinese cuisine hence I do not know specific names for each course but I do know how to appreciate them. Provided, of course, they were “halal”. For the benefit of those who do know understand the word “halal”, it means pork free. If you do not already know, I hate pork and I cannot bear the sight or smell of it – makes me sick all over.

The first course was some soup served in a winter melon (each of us had one – it served the purpose of a bowl) and lots of unknown creatures from the sea. I enjoyed it although I did not recognise the content.

Although it was good, it was really hot (to me). However, as three quarters of us at the table were men, many had finished the soup in no time – men tend to slurp boiling soups without a problem. I panicked because more than half of my soup was still untouched. Hence I started to put mouthfuls into my mouth as fast as I could and ended up with the numbest tongue (badly burnt) ever.

After we were all done, the waitress collected our winter melons. I was suffering in silence so thank God I did not have to do any talking. All I had to do was smile and look sweet, and speak when spoken to, of course. Anyhow, I was thankful that the first course was “halal” but I had somehow expected the other courses to be as well as hotel food is (normally) pork free.

After a while, we were each served our second course. When it was placed right in front of me, I looked at it for a few seconds without moving.

It was a huge, thick and fat piece of roasted pork. Its skin was golden brown (looked really crispy) and it meat was honey brown. Also, it had quite a thick lining of fat in between its skin and meat. I was not kidding when I said it was a huge, thick and fat piece of pork.

I tried to think of an excuse to get out of this but at the same time, I didn’t want to appear like a drama queen. Would throwing it bit by bit underneath the table be a good option? Would telling everyone that I am a worshipper of Allah be a good option? Or would eating it quietly be a good option?

So, like the rest of them, I lifted my knife and fork to cut the pork. I was so disgusted by the sight of it and catching a whiff of it every now and then was enough to kill me. Imagine having to eat it.

But it’s not like I had a choice. Hence, I put the first piece into my mouth and held my breath. Even then I could smell the wonderful aroma. I slowly chewed on it. The crispy skin and succulent meat were simply disgusting. The one of its kind spices used to marinate the pork were simply awful. The mouth watering aroma of the roasted pork was simply ghastly.

I took 10 mouthfuls (one quarter) of the pork and decided that that was it. Hence I put my knife and fork down. Anymore of the pork and I would certainly have thrown up.

Everyone at the table commended the pork endlessly. I listened to them in horror while recovering from the repulsive experience – it was like my worst nightmare coming true. Thank heavens the other dishes were delicious and pork free but alas, I had already lost my appetite (for the next 3 months).

Words may be able to describe the pork but it cannot describe how I felt.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 9:57 am

I was at the SS2 Swensens with Ivan a few days ago for dinner. If you guys haven’t tried out the ice cream there, you’re missing out on more than just a lot. Trust me.

Anyway, the waiter (a Malay guy) came and took our orders.

Me: Grilled Fish Sambal.
Waiter: (Blank look) Greel Fis... Salmen?
Me: No, Grilled Fish Sambal. (Pointed at picture on the menu)

He came closer to look at the menu and jot down my order. Fine.

Me: I would like a Vanilla Nut Icecap please.
Me: (Pointed at picture on the menu) Va-nil-la Nu-ut Ice-cap.

He gave me the blurriest look ever, came closer to look at the menu and again copied from it.

Me: Erm… And I DO NOT WANT the almonds, please. DO NOT WANT.
Waiter: Noh almunds?
Me: No almonds.

He jot that down and I prayed silently that he wrote no almonds instead of no ice cream.

Ivan: Give me the Steak and Grill set please.

It was a set meal that came with soup of the day and a choice of coffee, tea or soft drink.

Waiter: Ste… Spring Catch???

Finally he knew the name of something in the menu but alas, he didn’t get the correct one.

Ivan: No, Steak and Grill. (Pointed at the menu in an irritated manner)
Waiter: Stik and Greel. (Jots it down)
Ivan: And give me a hot coffee please.
Waiter: You can chuse (Pointed at the menu)
sorf drenk, kofi or tee as drenk.
Ivan: Yes I know. I would like a hot coffee please.
Waiter: Hort kofi? Ohrite, hot…

And off he goes. Ivan said that he was going to get at least one of our orders wrong (particularly because he is a Malay). I didn’t think it was possible because we pointed out very clearly what we wanted and he copied word for word from the menu - I thought Ivan was just being racist, as always.

After 20 minutes, we saw the waiter heading towards our table with two plates of main courses.

Greel Fish Sambal?
Me: Yes. (Heaved a sigh of relief)
Spring Catch?
Ivan: No no! You got it wrong!
Waiter: Oh. (Took the plate away).

Ivan was right. I was wrong.

So anyway, the management was thoughtful enough to give Ivan a soup of the day (courtesy of Swensen’s) while he waited for his Steak and Grill.
Monday, April 03, 2006
posted by Amie Lee at 1:08 pm

I was more excited than ever as I stepped into the cinema at 1 Utama.

We (Ivan and I) have always preferred Golden Screen Cinemas over Tanjong Golden Village as the seats are bigger, the space in front of your legs are more spacious, the popcorn tastes better, the Coke isn’t as diluted, the cinema is newer and the seats do not smell funny.

As usual, we bought some popcorn and Coke to munch while watching Ice Age 2. I have been waiting for the release of this movie for quite some time now. Ice Age 1 was really good and that made me anticipate the coming of the sequel.

I had planted great expectations in the movie and I really wanted to enjoy myself.

The whole cinema was filled with brats… I mean, children. They were so noisy (screaming at the top of their voices) and I even heard babies crying (probably afraid of the dark). Somehow, I wonder why some parents bother bringing their babies to the cinema when they could not even understand what ice or age means.

I was seated right beside the wall and Ivan was on my left hand side.

A father and his daughter (approximately 3 years old) were seated right behind me – they shared a seat. She started drilling (and shaking) my seat like a fulltime driller (and shaker) even before the show started. I thought she would stop after a while but she did not, even after the show had started. Her father kept asking her to stop what she was doing but she never listened.

So, I asked Ivan to switch places with me.

I thought everything was going to be fine after that. How wrong I was. The little boy (approximately 5 years old) on my left couldn’t stop fidgeting. He just couldn’t sit still. Every few minutes, he would stretch out his arms to my region or stand up and land on his seat again with all of his strength. That would cause my seat to shake like there was an earthquake.

Ivan wasn’t having too good of a time either. The little girl behind him continued to drill (and shake) his seat after we switched places. She did it so hard that even I could feel it and I was really disturbed by that – I cannot imagine how Ivan felt.

Hence all that drilling and earth shattering events made it almost impossible for me to enjoy the show that I have been anticipating and looking forward to for such a long time. With that, I swore never to purchase an ordinary seat ever again in a kid’s flick. I’ll opt for the Twin Seats right at the back – which costs RM2 extra per seat.

It is only money. If it can buy me peace and satisfaction, it is worth it.