Some of the Women In My Life

I was supposed to blog about something else but since I feel so strongly about this subject tonight, I shall blog about this instead.

My dear friend and ex-colleague, Elaine, is back for a short break and since little jj and I were down with chicken pox during her last trip back home, we made sure to make time for each other this time.

The meeting was made even more meaningful when our lovely friend and ex-colleague (too!), Nicole, managed to take off from work and converged at my apartment this afternoon. After I sent the little munchkin off to school, I joined them both for a quick lunch at KFC since Elaine was craving for it due to it not being available in Switzerland... and promised to join them a little later for dinner, to meet another friend whom I had not met and chatted in ages. So, I went back home to let little jj take her beauty nap while the two of them headed to 1Utama where Nicole had to meet someone for a discussion.

In between waiting for little jj to wake up from her afternoon nap and the eagerness for the one to return home quickly, Elaine called me up to tell me that she might have left her camera at one of the shops in Giant while shopping for stuff after I left. Of course, my instant response would be to say that she might not be getting that camera back if she had left it there. I mean, Digital Camera? And in Giant? There are tonnes of patrons going in and out and electronic stuff like that are usually stuff that you may not see again if you misplace them.

Well, as a friend, all I could do was to go back to the store and just ask, out of obligation. I mean, I wouldn't know what the outcome may be even with the assumption of it disappearing permanently. It is after all just nearby my place, and I thought it wouldn't hurt to drop by just before I go off to meet them for dinner.

The first stop was at the RM5 shop... the promoters there gave me a negative answer. So, my next hope would be KFC, where we had our lunch.

I queued up and then asked this one girl at the last counter if anybody had found a digital camera that a friend of mine might have left.

Whaddaya know... honesty, trustworthiness and sincerity still live on in the selected few urban population. She nodded and smiled, pulled out the drawer right next to her, took out all the documents and stuff, and then took out the black pouch with the camera, all still intact. And as if it was my own possession, I was thrilled and let out a few arabic words of gratefulness to Allah, thanked her for the kindness and left the place feeling ecstatic... that I was glad to have dropped by the place and was able to extend whatever kindness back to Elaine by doing this small favour.

So, to all of you, I would like to tell you here that the KFC outlet in Giant Mall, Kelana Jaya, has people who deserve to be given the acknowledgement in here. I shall drop by more often there.

Of course before that, I text her and said, tough luck. Haha. She thought the camera was totally gone. In reality, luck is tough. But I didn't mention that luck was actually on her side ;)

I made my way to 1Utama but the traffic was really really bad and parking was a challenge. But things were good and we all had our usual good time together, joined by Carmen, another ex-colleague turned good friend.

the waitress was laughing at our antics... yeah, we were all crazy together ;P

here, Elaine thanked god for letting her digital camera fall in the hands of honest & decent people... moi included haha...

The three of us have come a long way from where we were back then and the amount of things we all went through together while working under a crazy bitch has formed a relatively strong friendship between us. Carmen, was an outsider always looking in on us... she was taking care of bancassurance matters and totally understood what the three of us had endured, being in that 'aquarium' on the 30th floor of Menara HLA.

we were once branded, "Charlie's Angels" back in Hong Leong

Carmen made us all into the SATC group ;)

Seriously, apart from one other friend (and ex-colleague) who's now residing in Sydney, these two are an entirely different story. Up til now, after more than 7 years away from the evil clutches of a devil who wore Nine West, we could all still talk about her non-stop and how much she flows in our bloodstream. Still. Haha. We would imitate her scolding Elaine especially, since Elaine's hands would tremble at every WIP meeting every Monday morning at 9 am sharp. And she would always attack Elaine first since Elaine would exude that vulnerable aura which was magnetic enough to pull a negative energy towards her...

if you were to google my full name, you would come across this pdf article first. the caption to Elaine's name was labeled wrongly.. thus, even with Nicole not being in the photo, her name was with us...

We would always remember how she would bang all the doors to the pantry cupboards just because Elaine (who was in charge of events' catering) didn't understand what she meant by having the meals 'hidang' style haha... I was very new at that time and boy... did my eyes pop out when the entire 30th floor echoed with the loud shutting of cupboards, pulling out cups and saucers ;P

We would always talk about how she'd question Elaine on why her hands were shaking at every WIP meetings and how bad she made Elaine cry...

Tonight, we were even recalling some really awful stuff which may not be that nice to be mentioned here.

Then, there was that fake surprised expression in all of us during every birthday celebration! See, she doesn't have that many friends in life and because of that, she made us contribute RM50 for every staff's birthday (while she, who earned 4x our salary, also contributed the same amount!). What she NEVER knew was, all of us had planned the birthday gifts together, ie. we would buy the gifts together. Therefore, except for her gift, we would all already know what we were getting for our birthdays. And since she's a sucker for surprises, we let her be surprised with her gift, while all of us pretended to be surprised with normal and standard statements like, "Oooh, this is soooo thoughtful of you!" or "Omygawd... how did you know I wanted this??" or "Ohmygawd ohmygawd... I've always wanted to get this for myself"!! Haha... the only thing we didn't know coming would be the type of cakes that we're getting and the modus operandi of the surprise party.

I think that birthday thingy must be the best joke for us as we act surprised in front of her. Oh, and how much they hated that I was her 'pet' because I could anticipate her expectations ;P

Of course, to be fair to her, not everything is bad.

No no... let me rephrase that... in all the devils that you meet, there would be valuable lessons in life that you could extract and apply it to your advantage.

When Nicole and I became heads of department for different organisations after we left Hong Leong, we agreed that one of the best things about Ms Cruella deVille, was her weekly WIP. It was perfect. Everywhere else, people are always so busy... too busy to even discuss WIPs. But with her, it was compulsory. If you have not done it, you're supposed to complete it during weekends or come to the office by 7am on Monday. I tell you, our weekend was always spent worrying in case there are things we have committed to doing the week before and was not accomplished. WIP is a great way to plan your schedules and work is done more efficiently. The best part would be the fact that everyone in the department knows what you're doing and in case an outsider enquires about certain things when you're away, anybody else can answer on your behalf.... at least, no one can say they do not know...

Secondly, when it comes to sending out emails (especially when the whole world was copied), we would reread, go through the entire email hundreds of times and make amendments to specific words used to ensure that people do not misconstrue our true intentions and no one irrelevant would get into trouble. Therefore, one simple email may take 1/2 hour to 1 hour before it is actually sent. These days, people would simply hit the send button and get into trouble... spelling errors, wrong recipients, etc.

Thirdly, everything must be done in black and white. So many people love to screw corporate communications as they either think we are magicians or that we could create miracles. Once a black and white is out with proper confirmation and agreed content, we would ensure that the department is not taken for a ride and definitely not used as taichi. We found that all other organisations we worked in, are not friendly with this black and white concept so we concluded that it is all up to the leadership.

We also learnt from her how to multi-task, remember things at the tip of our fingers, negotiate for good rates more effectively and work efficiently even in a lean team. There were only 3 of us handling the group yet we all managed to pull through it all, sweat, tears and all. And the priceless part was learning the fact that everything has a hundred ways of getting done. There is no such thing as 'No'... everything is a 'Can' and you are required to think of ways to get it done... of course, within limits. I guess that must be the most valuable skill that I could even apply in my daily tasks.

Last but not least, no matter how bad she was, she was extremely fair when it comes to remuneration and evaluations. She would always always rate us all very high and openly refutes HR's concept of having quotas for over-achievers. To her, if everyone did a good job, then everyone should be evaluated professionally and given the necessary rewards. No one should be left behind to make way for an over-achiever. And no matter how much she liked to make Elaine fearful of her, she actually fought for Elaine's upgrade and pay rise as soon as I joined the department, since I had similar years of experience to her but I was getting a higher pay as I joined from another organisation. In this sense, she showed me clearly that no matter what HR says, the boss has the rights to change anything, when it deems fit. Hence, this was what we did too when we became bosses - to fight for what's right for the staff even if HR's policy and guidelines say otherwise... I mean, rules are just basic guidelines... a boss has a powerful voice since they would know best of how valuable the staff is to a company. Furthermore, I believe that the efficiency of the staff reflects heavily on the leadership... if a staff excels, surely the boss has given so much motivation. If one fails to perform, there must be something wrong with the leadership...

There are a lot more skills that we developed from working under her but those aren't really skills we learnt from her... more of skills we learnt to survive under her... which was pretty good, actually.

So, while I was browsing through my old files, I found several very memorable photos I have of all of us... something that I shall never ever forget for the rest of my life because these are really wonderful women who've kinda grown with me, accept each other as is, support each other through whatever decisions we make in life and remain friends through it all.

Love you guys!!

this was taken at the tsunami golf event where i volunteered to help even though i was no longer with the company. carmen is at most right...

this was at the awards presentation with the best CEO i've ever served. he's fondly known as Captain Chia.

as i was new to the company, i took the opportunity to get actively involved in the entire get-up... spot Carmen and Elaine in this photo...

this was at the Hong Leong Charity Run event where our department organised it with the help of all branch managers in every state... at most left is Nicole and Elaine is spotted at her back.

ooohh... Nicole had long straight hair then... this one was at another golf event.

i think this was taken before Nicole left the department...

this was at the Bachelor vs Married football match. Nicole was Captain's darling... and we all worked so well with him.

Ooohhh... that felt really good.


Byzura Razali said...

dear! im also from hla jalan jia was nov 06 to june 2008.

toughcookie said...

omg really?? hehe... which dept? masa tu i dah lama takde la babe... the legendary Cruella pun moved by then :)

Byzura Razali said...

corporate sales dept level 29, under fazinah mustaffa..i think u know her she there more than 15 years....