Different Types Of Friends As You Leave Your Workplace To Another

When you are young in your career, it is easy to make work becomes you. As though consciously or subconsciously, work is the single most important thing in life. Over time, you may find your balance. And recognize that workplace is just an entity. Your boss doesn’t own you a living. Neither do you own him or her your life.

With the amount of time we spend at work, inevitably we make friends. Or at least be friendly to others. We talk about our weekends, our overseas families that visit us, the joy – wedding, childbirth, or promotion – and the sadness – aging parents, a sick child, or health issues. We talk about our “friends” at work. We talk about our “enemies” at work. Enemies become friends (less likely). Friends become enemies (more likely). A workplace can be fun (less likely). Or it can be toxic (more likely). Most of us could probably write a book about work than writing about what happens after work, though I sincerely hope not.

Eventually, one leaves from one workplace to another. This is where I have come to the realization that besides those whom I don’t care about and those who likewise don’t care about me in my day-to-day work and beyond, there are different types of friends as I leave one workplace to another.

Type I. Friends who no longer talk and are turning into strangers.

People can be nice to each other thanks to the work environment. We find topics to talk about that are largely work related. We need each other at work. We have common goals. Outside of this environment, there really isn’t anything worth catching up on. So when separated, there is hardly any reason to be friends.

I suppose most of my colleagues at work would fall under this category.

Type II. Friends who continue talking with me most likely they still need something from me in near future.

While no one is indispensable at work, when one leaves, someone else would need to take over. It is hard to say whether or not that someone would continue befriending me when I am of no value to him or her in near future.

Pessimistically or realistically, type II can become type I. Or it can become type III.

Type III. Friends who become friends for real.

I have worked for more than two decades. I can say with conviction that I do come across people whom I have got to know at a workplace and we keep in touch after we parted. In fact, many of my best friends in life were once upon a time my colleagues.

When you come across type III friends, count your blessing. Hold onto them and stay in touch. Time works both ways. It can grow friendship; it can also kill friendship.

One Crazy Week

I listened to the acoustic recording of the quake captured from the deep ocean with goose bumps all over my body.  I suppose I could imagine the terror induced had I come face to face with such force of nature.  The 2011 Japanese earthquake had lasted for 2 minutes.  That has triggered a series of aftershocks, a tsunami, a potential nuclear meltdown, and an impact to the global economy.  For the past one week, I have been glued to the news from the Internet feeling deeply saddened.  That puzzled me a bit because I do not usually feel that attached to the disasters worldwide.  Maybe deep inside, I admire the Japanese people and culture more than I think I do.

This week has been a crazy week.  My mother in Hong Kong was hospitalized for a minor operation and how I wish I was there with her.  One colleague of mine’s grandfather has passed away and I said to her, “Go home and spend time with your family.  Don’t worry about that minute of meeting”.  I suppose falling back into routines helps one to return to normalcy.  And normalcy helps one to momentarily forget the pain.  I did not have the heart to grant her that wish.  There were two major deliverables this week and in the mist of all these chaos, one of my colleagues has lost his sanity – figuratively speaking – because he thinks that he will be asked to leave the company soon.  So I said to him, “Keep your head down and continue to be productive”.  I suppose different people handles stress in a different way.  Constantly having to deal with his momentary lapse of sanity seems to have worn me out a bit.  And hence, summing all up, it has been a shockingly depressing and incredibly busy week.

I have a different approach when it comes to work, compares to some of the colleagues around me.  I believe that knowledge and experience should be shared.  Because together, we can do so much more.  Don’t you worry that one day your job will be taken away from you, some have asked in the past.  I would be in deep trouble if my job is hanging onto what I know today.  In contrary, I would be happy if more and more people can do what I am doing.  That way, I can move onto other things in life and create new knowledge, create new experience.  I think there is enough food to share around (again, figuratively).  Even when the time is bad, deep inside, we are hunters.  We will be able to find something else to eat, somewhere, somehow.

Last Sunday I took Cynthia to the IT Show.  I would imagine that must have been a terrifying experience for her.  The gigantic exhibition hall was filled with people.  Mostly men talking in some geek languages, ogling at products that meant nothing to her.  I am a seasoned IT Show visitor.  IT Show is not a time and place for shopping.  When I visit an IT Show, I know exactly what I want to get.  At the exhibition, I checked where the Creative’s booth was located and under my supreme leadership, we zoomed straight into the location that mattered: Creative’s cashier.  I took a look at the pamphlet.  Yes, the World of Warcraft headset was on sales.  Big discount.  So I ordered three headsets there and then.  The man who manned the cashier was surprised at my efficiency and determination.  I went in as fast as I went out.  Cynthia was shocked.

Today is unlike the previous days, my working day has ended with a sunny blue sky.  Finger crossed, I am hoping for a better week next week.  My world and the world I am living in.

The Mount of Java

Three distinct incidents happened today and I have chosen the most significant one to be the title of today’s diary.  One is on feeling, the other two are something that is within my control and something not.

Throughout the day, I have been disappointed by the lack of reaction from the folks in the office about the signoff of our functional specification.  It is as though nothing has happened!  Ridiculous.  How can it be?  Over time, there is nothing but bad news in Aretae – project teams cannot meet deadline and hence do not get to secure the payments.  This time, the NUS project team has made it and managed to secure the payment even before the deadline.  Sometimes, I am puzzled in how the company is run.

Throughout the day, I have learnt and experimented on how to program JSP and Servlet and I have created one semi-working function.  My first time with Java and it is like facing yet another challenge with yet another programming language.

These two events are that feeling of mine and that something that is within my control.  As for the third event, it is something to do with the weather and the traffic.  Traffic jam in CTE has been consistently terrible.  One of the worse jam I have experienced was during one of the World Cup semi-finals.  One of the most bizarre jam I have experienced has got to be today’s jam.  All the way from the second tunnel, the cars were crawling.  At first I thought it was the bad weather, then after seeing one of the van broke down in the middle of the highway, I thought to myself, “That must be it!”  Then, I noticed that the traffic police have cut off the highway from AMK Avenue 1 onwards.  That was bizarre.  Maybe they are installing another speed camera after Avenue 5.

Physical: 0.27
Emotional: -0.78
Mental: 0.10

Up There Where We Belong

Today is a high.  It is like a happy ending to part one.  After weeks of struggle with the functional specification, we have finally obtained a signoff.  It is like a gift from heaven.  Even I find it hard to believe.  Not only have we obtained a signoff for the functional specification, we have got six signoffs for the storyboard.  Not one, two, but six!

Today I have finally made an online purchase with Amazon.com after locating the Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary CD-ROM.  Not just have I bought the dictionary, I have bought three books from Ann Rice.  These are the books that I cannot find in Singapore and these are the books that probably cannot get through the tough censorship.

To round up the day, Tong Kiat, Sing Chyun, and I watched a hilarious movie at Orchard.

Physical: 0.00
Emotional: -0.90
Mental: 0.28

Movie: Ali G Indahouse


Today is definitely a day of daydreaming.  The thought and the possibility of leaving this company to join another one are intoxicating.  In my mind, I have already planned out the entire serious of events: the lunch interview, the negotiation (if any), the drafting of the letter of resignation, the breaking of news to Choong Yong (difficult and personal), the breaking of news to Peng Yong (easy and business), the last four weeks with my beloved project team, and the breaking of news to this team of mine (tears and hugs).  I find it impossible to focus without thinking too far ahead.

This morning, I have come to the realization what I love to do best – to work in an environment full of crisis.  What I then do is to go in, put the house in order, and then go off.  Now that the project is stabilizing and most of the unknowns have been taken off the equation, the project is turning a little bit plain to me.  Probably because I feel much needed when things go wrong.  When the weather is good, I feel redundant.  Therefore, time for me to go into coding, time for me to sharpen up my technical skills.

Physical: -0.27
Emotional: -0.97
Mental: 0.46

Letter to Cynthia: A Very Boring Sunday

Here I am, on a Saturday night, feeling extremely bored and restless and I don’t know what to do.  The house is so different without you around.  Even when you were reading Reader’s Digest, I feel peace and don’t mind falling asleep on the couch or bed.  Now, I run out of things to do.  Really bored.

Hope you enjoy your stay in Mauritius.  For me, I am certain that this must be one of the best weeks this year (so far).  A holiday is always good as we have our undivided attention to our partner.  Hope that will keep the fire going.

After dropping you off the airport, I returned to the office.  My housemate Chun Keat was still at work.  I sent the driver off and waited for an hour for him.  Meanwhile, my friends were at the Banana Café waiting for my arrival.  It was supposed to be some sort of farewell drink for me.  During the drink, Meng Kiong pulled me aside and shared with me the reason my rolling off.  He explained to me that the decision was made purely based on cost (and not my performance etc.)  Somehow, last Friday, Denis really pissed Meng Kiong off and he was thinking of rolling Denis off (this time is due to performance).  He really wishes me to stay but just that it is too expensive to keep me in the project.  To me, if the project really wants me to stay and if Jon Allaway wants me to stay, it shows something positive in my career.  In fact, I am a bit worried returning to Singapore because the partners are trying to hold the fort for a few months (as Chun Keat was talking in the car) and if no project comes along, people will get fired.  Those who sit at the bench will be the first one.  Hence, suddenly there is an element of uncertainty here on my roll off date.

Chun Keat is still ICQ’ing his half half girlfriend.  Although Rabin has called me out for dinner but tonight, I am just not quite up to a big group gathering.  Probably have some decent food somewhere once he is done.

On second thought, this island is so boring and why would I want to stay any longer.

Letter to Cynthia: First week in Mauritius

Driving in Mauritius could be quite tiring.  Chaos everywhere – cars park by the side of the road forcing you to go over to the opposite lane, cyclists or motorcyclists doing just too slow on the road, group of human beings walking along the road, dogs suddenly dashing across the road, small kitten (must be a baby one) crawling across the road when I first left the hotel and probably the same kitten crawled back to where it came from when I returned, chicken crossing the road when I left the hotel and probably another chicken crossing the road when I was back, drunk motorcyclist fell off his bike only to get himself overran by another motorcyclist with a passenger and our van driver nearly ran over these three poor fellows lying on the ground in the dark, people doing weird things on the road with absolutely zero courtesy and anticipation is definitely not any of these Mauritian drivers’ department.  You can tell by the amount of shattered glass inside the roundabout.

Gods know why we have chosen to station in the north when the client site is somewhere near the south.  Every day we spend 70 minutes going to work and another 50 minutes back.  And because taxi is so unaffordable – imagine I paid about S$28 for a 20 minutes drive – we have to wait for one another to get into the vans or cars.  You don’t even have the flexibility to go home early or on time.  At times, I am glad that I do not have a car during weekdays; I have more excuse to get into the 6.30pm van.  As you can see, I am forced to work 9 hours a day, whether I like it or not.  Not to forget to mention that the journey is so bumpy and it virtually zaps your energy away.

The hotel is very isolated from any nearby civilization.  The only thing you can do is to stare at the beach full of corals that guarantee to bleed your feet should you wish to walk along the beach barefooted.  The best thing about staying here is that during weekend, if you manage to be in around 5.30pm, you will be able to observe the most magnificent sunset as the resort is by the coastline facing west.  Besides the obvious benefit of staying in a hotel, which is having someone cleanup your place once a day plus changing your towels at night, I can think of none.  There is a gym I have not get to use it yet and you could have a good run around the resort that I am going to do it one of these days.

I take it as you will be interested in whom my colleagues are, let me introduce them to you one by one.  I was actually on the same flight with 2 girls from KL transiting in Singapore.  I did not know until I touched down.  Chin Yee is a newly promoted manager and we were in the same eProcess training back in 2 years ago.  She was so surprised that I got married and I was so surprised that she got married too.  She married an Accenturian while I married an ex-Acian.

David Black from the US office joined the project the same time as me.  He is a Catholic coming from the Eastern Church.  David’s age could as well be qualified as my dad.  Barbara, from the Manila office, also is a Catholic.  She is someone in her late thirties whom looks like someone in her early thirties.  Worked in the firm for 14 years so you could roughly work out her age.  I have to admit that Barbara has a very friendly attitude.  Anyway, three of us attained the English mass at 10am and it is interesting to exchange beliefs and opinions with David talking about Eastern and Western churches.  David is doing IT security while Barbara is in the PMO doing marketing.

Helen is originally from Australia and is now based in Thailand.  Just joined the firm for a year or so and have been working with the government doing some very interesting stuffs that required her to travel to places that I have never ever heard of (somewhere in central Asia).  She got her university degree in the year of 1972 – the same year I was born.  In this project, she is responsible in the organization piece of work working with John Antony whom is at the organization PMO level.

John is a Singaporean Indian married to a Chinese with two kids.  Though I have heard a few unpleasant things about John, at a personal level, he is a respectable individual (whatever it means).  He was the one who took me out for a trip last Sunday with her family and the family of our van driver.  John is a Catholic too and he was the one who took me to this Catholic Church in Grande Baie.

Of course we have Meng Kiong whom I have worked with in the OCBC day.  He is a manager from KL with a very serious look and feel during work.  His wife, Catherine, follows him and works as a project EA.  Catherine loves to eat and that explains her size.  Someone whom I can talk to and who knows, maybe having a good relationship with the project EA may get myself better treated along the way.

And Michel Borst whom I am sure you know and need no further introduction except that he is the program director and his wife Tina has moved to Mauritius because of his job.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Cin Dee who always sticks around with Kelvin, a Singapore manager, and Jon Song, a Singapore consultant because they have managed to monopolize a car just for their own use.  Rumors say that she is going out with Jon.  The guy does not seem to deny while Cin Dee herself of course deny.  Due to shyness I guess.  This trio was branded as the “Radisson Gang” partly because they seldom come out of their circle and mangle with the rest.

Another gang is perhaps what I call the “Van Gang”.  We have Gary, a new promote (Consultant) from Singapore who has a rather unique taste in music, Rabin, an Indian Consultant from KL who has a rather arrogant attitude.  Reminds me of our good friend Sreepathy.  Actually Rabin is quite a nice guy.  I would say that girl may find him attractive and he does have a very good body as he exercises often.  Rabin is working under David Black doing IT security.  Sharon kind of fit into this gang as she really has nowhere else to go.

Another group of people stay in Sunset Boulevard.  A very nice place in Grande Baie with shops all around.  Ron Lim, a Singapore consultant who has brought his family into Mauritius.  That guy may as well be my age but he is married with a 3 years old boy.  Amazing.   Bee Leng, a Singapore strategy consultant, has a very approachable attitude and a fun person to be with.  Jamie, a Singapore analyst (I presume), lived together with Bee Leng and she really have this very cold look.  Sometimes really don’t know what she is thinking of.  Anyway, the story I owed you is that in a couple of days’ time, it is Jamie’s birthday.  Therefore, people wish to celebrate her birthday today at her place.  The van gang decided to visit her at about 9pm.  At first I wanted to go but the diner with David and Helen lasted too long and hence I have decided against me.  Sharon just called me to tell me that the birthday party ended a lot earlier than they thought and no one was able to SMS me in advance as they did not bring along their mobile phone.  Trivial.

And we have Jack whom I have met in Bangkok office.  He could be a new consultant and is working in the application architecture team.  Jack will be rolling of end July and he is so happy about it.  Good for him.  People always tease Jack and Bee Leng as they are always together.  Well, I do see an age gap between them (with the girl who is the older one) but I guess it does not quite matter in this new world.  Yung Jin is from the Singapore office, a consultant who I have worked with back in OCBC.  The guy who has invited us to his wedding party that if we were to attain, we would have had the chance to see the Singapore PM.  He just got married, a case like me, like Chin Yee.  Yung Jin and Jack stayed together just next to Jamie and Bee Leng.  It occurs to me that they spent a lot of time cooking together at night.

Mei Lin is someone I have worked with in the OCBC days doing the organization piece.  In this project, she, as the manager, heads the CRM team having Jamie, Ron, Jon and Sharon working under her.  Another Malaysian from the KL office.  By the way, Kelvin is the one who heads the CT (credit transformation) team having Gary, Cin Dee and Yung Jin as his team members.

Well, that are all the people I know of.  Though we have some others short term personnel but let’s not confuse ourselves now.  I am sure there will be more stories coming from the characters that I have described.  Hopefully, you will be able to relate to later on.

The Baby Face album is a lot better than the TLC album.  However, both are good albums.

Baby, I miss you a lot and really want to go home.  As I have difficulties in maintaining my eyes opened, I better finish up fast before I collapse with my two wonder pillows.  Let us pray that I will be with you very soon.  Can’t put up with this place no more and seriously speaking, if you are to come and visit, I am sure you will feel bored when I go to work.

I Begin to Understand

I may be rolling onto OUB!  What a nice surprise after so many days of dark cloud over me.  William called me this morning during his health check up.  Marcus had a very short conversation with me and I told him that he is always so busy and does not have the time to talk with me.  He took it quite seriously with a hint of disappointment.  Anyway, my relationship to him is properly like Victor Leung or Kenneth Keh’s relationship with me.

Now I begin to understand, I begin to learn.

Night time met up with mother-in-law and Eric and had a nice restaurant in Crystal Jade Kitchen.  Quite expensive in contrast to what Choong Yong said.

Terrible Day at Work

Today was a very terrible day.  They can’t sell the middleware arrangement letter.  Meng Kiong is going into the architecture team as one of the core team member and I will be rolled off.  Marcus told me that it should be a good news to me as the role is just not there for me.

Sometimes I can be so tough staying on for such a while.  Such a long while …

Not sure if I am happy to go.  I guess one side of me is happy while the other side of me feels sad with a sense of failure.

A New Beginning in Malaysia

First day working in the new AC KL office.  Kind of disappointing with Malaysia.  Maybe it is not really fair to compare it with the AC JKT but everything in Jakarta seems so classy.  And the apartment especially.

As said by Alvin Koh, seems to us that “all eight legs” have to tie together as there is only one car at the moment.  To me, I think it is not much of a problem as I do have great companies here.  Hate to be alone, you know.  Friends are important.  And just like tonight, three of us watching Cantonese TV together, quite fun.

Being obsessive, or anything you wish to say, I have got my Malaysian SIM card now.  Truly mobile.  Kind of.  We shall see how my social circle is going to be developed from now on.