Ten people were in the meeting room, plus seven others in offices around Australia hooked up to the room’s conference phone. It was a big meeting, with the attendance of section colleagues and business stakeholders, to review Monsieur Yuppie’s system specification document.
Mademoiselle Fashion, as chairwoman, called out each chapter and waited only three seconds to see if anyone was raising any questions before going to the next chapter. She also left just three seconds to see if anyone wanted to ask anymore questions on a particular chapter.
I knew the trick she was using. She just wanted to rush through the document, leaving people with little time to think properly and making them confused. Thus there wouldn’t be many questions that require further investigations post review which would cause M. Yuppie, who was her subordinate, to make any changes to his specs. M. Yuppie was already late for his task’s deadline.
Tinny, my late colleague as well as contractor, once advised me: “Make your specs brief. The more information you provide, the more people will question.” Tinny always behaved in an affectionate way towards me as if he was my Uncle.
I can never follow Tinny’s advice. I like to present and get approval for my documents at a detailed level.
I am my father’s daughter and I have inherited my father’s characteristics of working hard and having a clear conscience to do a good job.
When my current workplace tried to make me redundant three years ago, I was devastated because just like my father, I couldn’t see myself without work. My father studied for two years after arriving in Australia then worked as a librarian for thirteen years, unwillingly retiring at the age of 73.
Coming to work while the cloud of redundancy hung over me, I tried my best to fulfill my work duties. My father was captured in his office, doing his duties as a commander, at the last minute of the Vietnam war.
Everyday in this company, the heavy workloads, made worse by staff downsizing, and the hectic deadlines make staff all battle for their own career survival. Around me, I could see a growing trend amongst my colleagues who are worried about being perceived as politically correct and well-performing.
They are all too worn out to reach out for the “truth” of the job and become accustomed to playing the blame game. They are also too time poor and busy to be willing to help each other. The stress makes them easily irritated and prone to bickering.
Amid the moral and emotional chaos of my workplace, in my conscience, things have to be done the right way whether it would make my job harder, else it would waste public resources, lose public trust and cost the company its reputation.
It’s my duty to honourably commit myself to serve this country which has accepted me to resettle here as a refugee of the Vietnamese Communists.
Many times even though exhausted from a noncommunicable disease, I dragged myself to work because I was the only person responsible and knowledgeable for the task. There were times I fought with guilt for leaving my sick baby in care to come to work. I felt my absence at work would make the quality of my job suffer as the computer system would not be tested and fixed properly for public use. I scheduled my medical appointments around the computer sytem’s quarterly build-test-release cycle to ensure they don’t interfere with work. It had happened twice when I immediately reported myself making mistakes to my supervisor when no one has realised that there was a fault.
I am proud that I have got a strong work ethic from my father and I feel honour bound to fulfill my citizen’s obligations to my ‘new’ country.
When power frowns at the tight deadline claim,
And staff resource for demand is so low,
Yet future staff retrenchment is to grow,
The workplace chaos then becomes aflame!
It is a place of bickering and blame,
Where altruism is too shy to show,
Where bullies, liars want the staff to bow,
Where truth and conscience sometimes hide in shame.
May God grant me the fortune to excel,
In jobs where conscience leads me to follow,
In circumstances people thought as hell.
My duty is to serve this country well,
With honour to pay back the debt I owe:
Australia has accepted me to dwell.
by Chuck Coker.