It will never happen

Before the past week ended, I saw a strange pile of documents on my table.  When I examined the documents, I discovered that it was meant for another colleague. Although the responsibility was not mine, I was familiar with the work attached to it. It was a pending liquidation report. I knew the nature and history of the pending liquidation report because months ago, the Finance Department sought my assistance in resolving the problem involved.

Here’s the story behind the pending liquidation report

Last year, our office conducted a Christmas party for our core group of employee volunteers. Part of the little incentive, we provided gift certificates for everyone. All the gift certificates were disbursed. I thought… Apparently, there was a set of gift certificates that remains unliquidated. It was declared as disbursed.Records however relate otherwise. There was no record that the gift certificate was received by the intended recipient.

I tried to perform the role of the mediator. I asked the Finance Department possible alternatives to address the issues attached to the liquidation report. The most feasible thing to undertake, I was asked to produce a document that will be certified and approved by our Department Manager. The document will declare that our Department Manager can attest to the issuance of the gift certificate to the target recipient. The recipient back then was a colleague-volunteer, who unfortunately, already left the company.

Solution was finally found. I relayed the most awaited solution to my colleague. I remember, our Department Manager was present when I discussed everything to my colleague.

Months passed. All the while, I thought that my colleague was able to resolve the situation.

I was surprised to discover that my colleague did not take action. Nothing has been done with the pending liquidation report. I was beginning to feel pissed off. I made some means to help him close the pending report. Sadly, nothing has been done.

I kept wondering why did my colleague choose not to do it. At that point, all I could think was because he tries to distance himself from the dirty work. He apparently involved another colleague in the disbursement of the gift certificates. He is probably fighting for the belief that the colleague he assigned should be responsible in cleaning the mess. Problem is, the colleague he assigned already left the company.

And so I thought that everything that was happening around me was a mere product of laziness and refusal of someone to do the job.

The Finance Department started complaining to me. I found out that my colleague has been habitually lousy in submitting liquidation reports. They don’t anymore want to transact with my colleague. I knew at that time, it was my time to get myself in the picture.

I finally produced the certification needed. I produced the much awaited document certifying that my Department Head can attest that the missing gift certificate was indeed disbursed.

When I handed the document to my Department Head, I sensed his reluctance to sign the certificate.

I’m sooo dead. Why did I choose to play the role of the mediator?

My Department Head wants to establish that the the recipient indeed received the gift certificate.

I took my last resort. I searched for the colleague who was the intended recipient of the gift certificate.

And so I verified. To the last minute, I was 100% sure that the intended colleague recipient was able to take home the gift certificate.

Nothing was received.

The intended recipient did not receive the gift certificate.

She wasn’t even aware that she was entitled with the gift certificate.

I was shocked. This can’t be.

I was trying to convince myself that everything was just a mistake. As I was gathering more facts and starting to connect all the details, everything pointed to one conclusion.

The gift certificates were stolen.

My colleague and the colleague he assigned to distribute it connived to keep the unclaimed gift certificates to themselves.

Months ago, I was able to witness a murder committed right before my eyes. I became a witness to the act of a heartless criminal. I thought that was my worst.

When I discovered another crime unfolded right before my eyes, a form or stealing within my immediate environment, I thought I will already be immune. It should mean nothing.

My emotions jumbled. At first, I felt sad. I felt disappointed. I later felt frustrated. The frustration turned to self-pity and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m starting to feel that familiar sting of depression again.

My emotions maybe selfish and unreasonable. One thing I can never deny though, my emotions has always been real and honest.

The depression brought about by my tardiness suspension dawned on me again.

As much as I don’t want to deny it, the crime committed by my colleague and another colleague, gave me reasons why my tardiness suspension was just too harsh and cruel.

My two colleagues who kept the gift certificates for themselves were able to get away from it.

When I presented my evidences to my Department Head, he finally reached a resolution. He agreed to pay for the lost and undocumented gift certificates. He handed me the money and silently, I was able to finally close the liquidation report. Case closed. Criminals are freed.

I have all the evidences yet at the end of the day, nothing happened with the criminals and offenders?

While me? The only mistake I made was the fact that I failed to report to work on time. I paid so much for all those tardiness.

My salary suffered from all the deductions.

I got a bad record in my 201 file.

I got a two-day suspension.

I lost the performance bonus incentive.

I lost the promotional opportunity.

The tears and emotional burden

the dwindling self esteem

Between stealing and coming to late for work, who deserves the greater punishment?

It never happened that way.

It will never happen under the right way.

Should I stay

Some weeks ago, the most awaited day of my documentation project finally happened. On that day, a pool of assessors conducted a full site visit at the workplace. On top of the visit, our managers and VPs were subjected for interview or what our President said, everyone was cross-examined. We somehow underestimated this day because the bulk of workload was just so endless. The assessors were repeatedly asking for supporting documents and evidences. It was our team who handles the production of the documents. Hence, every claim that our VPs and managers make bounces back on us. At some point though, I have to admit that some VPs and managers are making up stories during their interviews. We were pissed off but in the end, we don’t have a choice but to produce something from their artificial stories.

After the site visit, the assessors will review their findings and present it to the board of judges. We were told to wait around two months for the results. We are hoping for the entry-level certification. As much as I want to be hopeful, I already feel half-hearted about the results. I hope my colleagues will not be able to read this. I’m sorry but from my end, it’s not yet time for us.

Despite of everything, I’m still wishing that my predictions were incorrect. Part of me is wishing for that chance. Truth to be told, I told myself months ago that the outcome of my documentation project will give me the answers of whether I should stay or leave my current company.

If we receive the certification, I should stay.

If we don’t receive the certification, it’s time to leave.

Unfortunately, my overanalysis of my situation is giving me more problems. At the end of the day, I realized that the outcome of my documentation project does not lead me to the clearer picture of my decision.

If we don’t receive the certification….

I should leave. This already serves as my wake up call. I should consider working and growing in a company that offers better practices. It’s time to move to a better working environment.

This sounds as the most logical decision but deep inside, part of me tells me to stay. Maybe at this point, my company is at its low. Years from now, I want to become a part of its recovery. Hence, I should stay.

If we receive the certification

I should stay. My efforts are finally happening it marks another start for me.

Part of me however says that I should already leave. My mission is already done. I’m ending my employment on a high note. I also believe that it’s better to part ways with an accomplishment than a disappointment.

I’m feeling more lost and confused. However, I knew that having this feeling of leaving already confirms that part of me already longs for it.

I confess, I knew the reasons that confuse and prevent me to leave or make that decision.

  1. That evil emotional attachment – I started my career here. Everything that happened to me 10 years ago were made in my current employer
  2. Afraid to regret – If I will move to another company, I don’t want to experience those days when I have to ask myself, why did I leave? Everything was fine for the last 10 years. Why did I easily give up those 10 years of my life?
  3. Fear of the unknown – My few friends who left the academe for the industry have their own culture shocking stories. Most of them were surprised with the faster pace of work life in the industry. At my current age, am I still capable of coping?
  4. The interviews and entrance examinations – I remember my friend Grace who once told me that she has memorized all the employment examinations of companies. True enough. There are some examinations I encountered from another company that I found in another company. I have my own share of embarrassing stories about employment examinations. One is always getting eliminated with a pool of applicants. I don’t know if I still have the tolerance and knowledge to quickly answer those employment examinations.
  5. The almost most important consideration – Salary… If I will accept another job, my major considerations are the amount of salary and benefits I will be receiving. Obviously, I will never transfer to a company with lesser pay and benefits… even though the company has been showing signs of growth and success? No or maybe yes?
  6. My future colleagues – Will I still have the patience to deal with another set of colleagues?

I made this blog post while my dearest students are taking one of their major examinations. This reminds me, one of the things I would surely miss when I leave the workplace. If I will leave, it will take some time for me to return to teaching. It will make me sad… But then, part of me is already feeling the exhaustion. Maybe my overweight problems or lousiness can explain. I will feel sad without teaching, but I will not deny that my aging and overweight self needs additional time to rest.

So there, if you were kind and patient enough to read my long post, THANK YOU. I would appreciate unsolicited advices but please, no harsh words.

I don’t want to become the BIG WINNER!

Early this year, I went malling with my college friend, Gracie. We spent the day window shopping, eating and a making lot of catching up stories.  I was astonished when she told me that she already transferred to a new company. She is now working in a government agency, that is just blocks away from my work place.

I never expected that she would leave her previous employer. When we once had dinner like two to three years ago, she was telling me how happy she was with her group of officemates. Though the salary and opportunities were not that promising, she remained loyal with her previous employer.

Eventually, Gracie admitted to me that it was her friends who really influenced her to stay. I cannot recall her exact number of friends. As far as I can remember, they were 8 happy people rolled in one group. They have lunches, sleepovers and all those work adventures. Eventually, those 8 people were reduced to like 5 members. Resignation and transfer to better companies were the primary causes of their separation. Gracie even told me that she can feel the desire of her other friends to look for better jobs and they could understand each other. Gracie once joked to me that in the end, she doesn’t want to be the big winner among her friends. Being the big winner meant being the last person to be left in the workplace.

My friend Anne also surprised me with her career move.  We went employed after graduation in the same month. We are perhaps the few people in the world who remained with our first employers for six years. Anne works in a local universal bank and is now transferring to a high-end international bank. She will start on her new work tomorrow and if you are reading this my friend, I am wishing you a big good luck! With all your talent and perseverance, I know you will become an asset to them.

My simplest intention of writing this piece is to shout out Gracie’s conviction, “I DON’T WANT TO BECOME THE BIG WINNER TOO!”

I am not saying that I am in the worst workplace condition. I still love my job and my workplace. My job still permits me to write and teach (a job which I have a love hate relationship). However, I am haunted by the idea of trying to move out of my comfort zone and explore other possible opportunities in the industrial sector. I want to meet other people, go to different places and try out other line of work.

However, these things are always easier said than done. The idea of transferring to another job requires a lot of considerations, the nature of work, pay,  location, etc.

I am now learning something unwritten. School and books  never taught me that the more you stay in your workplace, the more it will be difficult for you to leave it. This situation makes me become more attached to my comfort zone which obviously makes it more harder for me to get detached from it.

But on top of everything, if God is listening, please…. Don’t make me the big winner!

But if you will make me the big winner, please make me a happy and not a miserable big winner…

Pains and Pleas of being a Rank and File Employee

I woke up two hours earlier of my everyday schedule today. I need to arrive at my destination two hours before my official working time. My destination is the Lawton, Manila branch office of the Social Security System (SSS). I have to make a little sacrifice of waking up early to submit my salary loan application. It might be different in other countries, but here in the Philippines, we are allowed to apply for loans out of our Social Security contributions. 

I arrived at the branch office at 7:24 am. I got a queue number, which read that I am the 23rd client to be accommodated. The queue machine reads that the teller is still serving the 8th client. This only meant that I have to wait for hours, considering the fact that there is only one teller attending to all the early clients.

While I was sitting and quietly waiting for my turn, I observed the different people who come and go the branch office. Each of us is coming from different places, professions and walks of life. As I was observing the people, my attention was caught on the section that processes claims for Sickness, Death and Retirement. I became more observant on the clients, who were likewise patiently waiting for their turn. The picture of the situation gave me some realizations.

The clients in the Sickness, Death and Retirement section are living testaments of the thousands rank and file employees in the country. After years of waking up early, reporting for work everyday, rushing to take the public transportation, dealing with demanding bosses and uncooperative coworkers, rendering unpaid overtime, getting tax deductions from a meager income, praying it would already be payday, lining up to the long pile of people on ATM machines; one would likewise end up filling out forms, gathering documents, seeking signatures from previous employers, taking the public transportation, waiting in line with other people, and praying to have processed and accepted papers. All in all, these long and tedious processes will hopefully provide a limited monetary support.

The more distressing of this situation is the minimal amount of retirement or sickness benefit which an employee will receive. After taking time and effort to submit and process your papers, the money is not really enough to recover expenses from sickness, support life after employment and reimburse death related expenses.

I may sound harsh, bitter and too pessimistic. However, my sentiments further intensified when I saw those elderly people patiently waiting for their turn. I felt pity, depression and to some extent hopelessness from the government.

I felt depressed because the situation clearly depicted to me one of the painful faces of life’s reality. A little comfort or just a minor financial support (which you have worked for years) always demands a certain level of effort and sacrifice. 

I pity the elderly people, who have devoted half of their lives for working, and yet they still has to endure the burden of securing requirements, processing papers, waiting on long lines, and praying that the entire process will turn out fine.

I also felt a form of hopelessness from the government. As I have personally observed, the existence of the Social Security System is the nearest and decent assistance, which the government could provide for the rank and file employees, who have worked hard and are now constrained by the limits of time and age.

I am not demanding an immediate and drastic action from the government. However, I cannot discount the fact that the government can contribute in different ways to improve the welfare of every ordinary rank and file employee.

Rank and file employees also deserve actions and programs from the government. After all the tax deductions and service they have rendered for the country, they also have the right to become part of the government’s vision and advocacies.

At around 8:10 am, my number was finally called. It’s now my turn to submit my loan application form. I was hoping that everything will turn out fine. However, the teller told me that my employer’s authorized representative’s specimen signature had already expired. I was asked to get an ISL 501 form and forward it to my employer. I was told that my papers will be processed only when my employer submits updated specimen signatures. I went back to the office to report for work and informed the concerned office. Don’t anymore ask me what happened.  I just gained two reasons to become disappointed in just one hour. So I thought that those applicants under the Retirement, Sickness and Death sections were the only pitiful rank and file employees in the country. Frankly, not really!