Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Quirky Meme

Mr. Fong tagged me to do this meme. The point is to show our quirky sides but there's really no rule, so I can write about anything I want to hi hi hi hi...

I'd love to share with you the story about my failure when I tried working in a company/factory. You see, I've never really survived in a common workplace. As you all know, I used to be a private English tutor ever since I started studying at the university. Then after graduation, a relative of mine suggested that I applied as a translator to the biggest publisher in Indonesia, so I did and they accepted me. Since most of my students go to school in the morning, that means that I only have to teach starting at around 2 pm until 6 or 7 pm every day. That means I could translate in the mornings.

You see, right after graduation, companies sometimes called me to offer me a job. It's a common practice in Bandung. Some of my friends also got this kind of call. At first I decided not to try working in a real office, since the first salary would be much less than what I made from teaching private students (and usually it would still stay less until I worked for a few years). Plus by teaching private students, I could make my own schedule (I didn't have to work from 8 to 5 or something like that).

After years teaching kids, I got bored, so I decided to try working in a company before I got too old. After all, most companies wanted to recruit people who had either plenty of working experiences OR fresh graduates. If you're already 25 years old, then they expect you to have some working experiences already before you can apply. Otherwise they MAY accept you, but your salary's going to suck.

One day this garment company called me and asked me if I would be interested to have an interview. Back then I was fed up teaching already (I was still translating, though), so I said yes. They interviewed me and I got in right away. So I called up my students and told me that I'd stop teaching them the next month since I wanted to try working an office job.

Anyway, lots of garment factories are located far away from the city centre and that particular one was no different. Gladly they had cars and drivers ready to pick us up at an appointed place each morning and drop us there again in the evening. Working hours are from 8 am to 5 pm, yet if you have to work overtime, then you have to stay there until 8 pm 'coz only then the cars and drivers are ready to take us back to our homes (unless you drive your own car, that is!).

Basically speaking, I was an assistant marketing manager in that factory. The office was on the second floor and it was located in the same huge patch of land as the factories. There were hundreds of factory workers sewing stuff every day. There were a few marketing managers handling different clients in that factory. The marketing manager who became my superior was a nice Christian lady. She briefed me about what I had to do and told me that she hoped I would stay there a long time.

My job descriptions would be helping her provide samples for clients. So if there's a client wanting some samples of a certain kind of shirt, then they'll send the materials and the specs for the kind of buttons and sizing charts and then I'd have to compile all those things and bring them to the sample room. Usually the client asked for 4-10 samples of different sizes. My job was to make sure that the samples got to the client at the appointed time. Those samples were important since only after the client got them, they would decide how many pieces of clothing they would order from our company. If they weren't satisfactory, then they could possibly not order from us.

Now what was TOTALLY annoying was the fact that our sample room was the slowest ever!!! One time they couldn't even finish making and washing and sending THREE pieces of shirt in one day even though I ordered them since the morning. Plus it was a repeat sample, so they should've known how to do it already. I was seething inside, but I couldn't let it out. I was the new employee and I didn't want to make people hate me. I dislike pushing people to do something. I expected others to work well not just for the sake of getting salary, but the fact was that they weren't even thinking straight of what they were sewing in the sample room.

During those weeks I worked there, my peace was gone. I started wondering if I really wanted to keep on working there. My marketing manager told me that she'd teach me to do many things so that later on she could send me off to meet clients in Singapore. However, I wondered if it was all worth it. I couldn't sleep well at nights since I wanted to lash out my anger but I had to hold it all inside. I didn't feel like going to work in the mornings. Finally I couldn't handle it anymore. I felt like being trapped in hell.

At first I thought the job would help me improve my spoken English by talking to clients or their representatives via telephone, but turned out that my translating job would do MUCH better in improving my vocabulary. Other than that, this job made me unable to have time to work on my translation job, especially whenever I worked overtime and I only got back home at 9 pm. I began to wonder what kind of life it was.

One time there were two Quality Control officers who came with us in our car. Those officers were sent by the client to inspect random products that the client ordered. If they found some bad stitches or something, they would reject the product (normally factories would make 20% more than what the client ordered to make sure that if there were rejected items, they could still fulfill what the client wanted). Anyway, those officers started chit-chatting with us. They asked how long each of us had worked in the factory. When I told them that I'd only worked there for a few weeks, one of them said, "Ahhh, no wonder...your face's still so fresh, without burdens. When you've worked in this industry for years, your face's going to change."

OUCH!!! That was really like a wake-up call for me. Did I really want to learn how to push people to do their job well and to nag, nag, nag and master doing that? I could if I wanted to, but did I want to become such a person? NO, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. That message was loud and clear in my head.

However, I felt bad since if I left the company, my marketing manager would SUFFER. I mean, it would take time before she could find someone to replace me, and in the meantime she would be SUPER busy. For her sake I tried to give the job another chance, but in the end I couldn't take it anymore. The negative sides of the jobs were just TOO much for me.

I have to admit there was an embarrassing thing happening once when I just felt SO trapped in that factory. I cried in front of my HRD manager. He tried to console me by saying that maybe the job didn't suit me and they could arrange to transfer me elsewhere (the boss owned different kinds of companies, including a bank). I told him that I just wanted to quit. I also cried in front of my marketing manager. I told her what I really felt about the job. She finally said, "If it's really getting to you, then you can quit. I don't mind that." So with her encouragement, I quit the job on my 7th week.

Yeah, some of you may wonder, "WHAAATTT?!?!?!?!" It's hard for me to explain it, but just felt CHOKED when I worked there. I knew I had to get out. Plus having my translation job also helped me sealed my decision, I guess. At least I wouldn't be unemployed when I quit that office job. I was still in contact with my marketing manager for a while after that 'coz I still felt bad for her. In the end not long after that she also quit from the company.

You see, there were lots of back-stabbing and gossiping in the company. Since my marketing manager had been successful in getting good clients, then other marketing managers started talking bad about her. They said that she had a lover and a baby someplace (in a place where she visited a client regularly). The whole working experience had been such a horror to me so that even until years from then, I could still shiver whenever I remembered working there and feeling TRAPPED.

And as you all know, right after that experience, I became a full-time translator and I found my peace by doing that job. I could do the job from the comfort of my home and I could set up my own pace. I didn't have to hear people back-stabbing or gossiping me. I didn't have to push anybody else except myself. I had nobody else to blame except myself if the job turned out to be bad he he he he...Perfect!

So even until now, I haven't gotten back to the office work. I don't know how it's like, the office job here in Finland. Funny thing is that my Mom has never had an office job, either. She grew up surrounded by family members who sold food at the traditional markets and that's what she's been doing ever since she was young. So neither my Mom nor me have tasted working for years in an office. I don't know if this means I'm more cut to be a freelancer or not. We'll see about that later.

Anyway, what else is quirky about me? Hmmm...I like bargain stores or stalls, but I don't really like bargaining too low 'coz it feels as if I would be making that seller "miserable". However, I also dislike buying too expensive stuff ha ha ha ha...so if I can bargain, I would attempt to do so, but I can't be like my friend or my Mom who can really bargain well he he he he...

Other than that, for me going to stores or malls is VERY relaxing, even though I don't buy anything he he he...Just looking around places is a nice thing to do.

And I love writing on air with my fingers HI HI HI HI HI HI...Sometimes I'd just write on air with my fingers (just like typing the words up with a keyboard). I don't know why I like it, though. It's just something nice to do while I'm thinking of something he he he he...

OK, I guess this is long enough. I have to go to town to buy a pot for my flowers and I also have to find a Christmas gift for Arttu's aunt he he he...


  1. What an interesting story. Like you, I've never really liked working for anyone. My first couple of jobs were as a writer for publishing firms. When I turned 21, I set up the design firm with my ex-husband and have been self-employed ever since. I don't think I can survive the back stabbing and gossip too.

  2. Blur Ting: So you too, eh? I know you're self-employed now and when you were still with your ex-hubby, but I didn't know the rest of the story.

    Yeah, office politics is really crazy and I just hate it. :-((((((((

  3. No one could blame you for quitting that job when you were so miserable there. Since so much time is spent at our full time jobs, I think it is very important to like what we do and to be happy there. To me, that part is even more important than having a high salary.

  4. Kathy: Well, when I was still considering the decision, I talked to my friends who had already plunged themselves into office jobs and they said I was lucky to have such a WONDERFUL immediate superior. I think the fact that those people in the factory kept on working there for years made me wonder about my ability to survive in an office job.

    However, I'm glad I took the decision after all. You're right about everything you said. It IS crucial that you love your job and be happy with what you do. Otherwise no matter how much money you get or how often you get a chance to go abroad, you'll still be miserable.

  5. Amel now I know why you can't stand being a follow up in that factory.. actually I worked in trading company and they hv headquarter office at Hongkong. I was on the buyer side.. who keep on calling the factory and make the follow up person like you miserable.. LOL..LOL...

    I love working there because I can use my English and I was a part timer when I was in University..

    Mr. Fong also tagged me for this quirky post.. hm.. I am still thinking what to write..

  6. Trinity: HE HE HE...yeah, so you work just like a friend of mine. She's been working in a trading company for years now!!!

    My biggest problem was that I couldn't push those people in my VERY SLOW sample room. In the end I got frustrated and angry 'coz I couldn't express myself he he he...

    Plus I didn't feel satisfied when it came to practicing my spoken English in the factory 'coz we only talked about similar stuff over and over again he he he he...

    I'd love to read your quirky meme post he he he he...