Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life of Us Ikan Bilis. Vol 1

(For all characters featured beforehand like Jane, Keisha and the Scotsman, pls read the last Ping Pong Queen series to refresh memory. Ed featured here is from The Phone Call)
Hi all!

Perhaps it is time for a confession.

I haven’t been blogging because very simply, I’ve been depressed. And true to the akk creed, I couldn’t write much when I’m down and out. Even funny things gets forgotten in the haze of dumbed down panic. As I mentioned before, there has been a re-structuring going on at my workplace. Not just a re-structuring, but also a re-shuffle. One beer-filled Saturday, Keisha mumbled over the glass that she and Jane (both same section) are going to move their lab a few levels up. Next thing I know, their cubicles are standing empty in the office, every memorabilia gone, even the 3M hooks on the wall that Jane used to hang up her jacket.

2 days later, I moved my own cubicle to Jane’s old one while someone else took up Keisha’s. Both of them had been the early staffers so their cubicle spaces were prime locations. Pragmatically it was the right thing to do, so now I never had to check my back nor put up a mirror to see who’s behind me, but somehow it was all different. I fretted incessantly over them while they were away, because I was used to their presence and their chit chat while they had been around. I was used to having them message me on MSN even when they were just a cubicle away, usually to gossip because we were eavesdropping on PPQ’s loud voice on the telephone.

Now I wondered if they were well, being under TWO new bosses instead of the original Scottish bloke. I had heard stories and frankly, just this issue of the TWO bosses would have warrant a ‘chronicles’ status, but my heart wasn’t in it to invest time and effort writing about them when it was without doubt that my 2 good frens have been silently suffering.

But for the sake of comprehension, here’s the round-up so far. If you all remember, Ed has been introduced once here as the director of my department. He came to replace the one who had originally hired me (the BB aka Big Boss) because BB decided he wanted to increase his golf time during the work week. Ed was originally sent here to resolve the issue of the company’s direction. I guess you can say that during then, things were already getting loopy.

Ed turned out to be quite a welfare person, which was a pleasant surprise, but he was a stranger to the company and the company had been rolling down a straight path to destruction. Much like a train with bad brakes down a gently sloping track. It was slow but unstoppable. Among many things, he inherited the department’s politics, which was a whole hog of mixed hierarchy: middle bosses having higher authority in some cases than directors in other departments because their own directors held more power.

Hey, I didn’t say mine wasn’t a big company. It was one of the largest, if you think hard enough, I’m sure you know where I work.

It was extremely weird how the TWO bosses managed to chap-jit-kah in. First, there was already a middle boss for Keisha and Jane, the Scot. Apparently the director from another department wanted to move the whole technology section undertaken by the 3 over to his own side for his own purpose (ie. Drive his own department research). Our BB, for all his golfing ways, had at least been very clear that the whole department should not be split up, and was sufficiently unafraid of that director, since he had clout of his own.

And then, call it conspiracy or plain coincidence, BB suddenly declared he was transferred to another place with less work and confessed his deep yearning for more time of his own. He gave us all a big pat on the back, a good increment and Ed, whom we have never seen before.

Then almost immediately, the director-from-the-other-department released his favourite TWO middle bosses into our midst and expertly whinge out the Scotsman. Within 3 months, Jane and Keisha had been physically moved from our office and the lab had been dismantled and assembled 7 floors up.

That had been the turning point for me. For a while everyone of us ikan billis struggled to keep a happy face, it was definitely a time of great unrest and lots of change. We had a mini party to celebrate the gals’ move ‘Up-the-ladder’ and everyone took a tour of their new lab space and cubicle. We joked that at least now they could see the sun (no surprises for guessing which level we worked in). I folded 2 pairs of origami mandarin ducks for them for love and romance luck, then feng-shui their cubicle so the ducks were placed in the right direction.

For a while, they joined us for our lunches, a communal activity which we never stopped practising.

Then they came less and less. Their work piled up. The TWO bosses started working them real hard. They came to work earlier and earlier (7.30am) and left later and later (9pm). The stories started coming, not from the gals, but from ikan billis in the other departments, saying these 2 bosses worked like a demolition team, they bulldoze anyone who steps in their way. And I’m sure you ask, why 2?

Ah…because they are a husband and wife team. They always did things together. Too bad they still charge double salary. In any ordinary organisation, unless it’s family, I’ve never heard of such a situation, another indication to tell you where I’m working at. For purposes of convenience, since they are a couple, I’ve taken the liberty of putting their initials together to give them a collective name here. It’s really not my fault that one is called Kindermann and the other is Norse (sirname). It would not be too much also to ask if they had carved their initials on a tree somewhere in Jolly England, where they crawled from, encased in a heart, the initials KNN, but it would be much too much to hope they had ever been young, much less have romance in their gritty soul.

It was good to know that the hokkien dialect can transcend language and geography to describe so succinctly, the essence of these two, in their names alone. I bow to the superiority of the Hokkien dialect and am proud to be one. Long live the colourful language.

Emails came in hard and fast from KNN after that, stating that the 7th floor lab under restricted entry and if any of us wants to visit, we’d have to call KNN to open the door for us. Then came the email from Jane and Keisha pleading that all emails work-related are to be sent to KNN, without CC-ing them. Because, in the words of both, ‘They want to know everything and they don’t like us to know anything that they knew.’ Now whenever we call them using the lab line for work issues, KNN picks up the phone with a stony ‘yes?’.

‘erm.’ The ikan billis will quake. ‘Can I speak with Jane? There’s a delivery order for the lab concerning the new fridge and she is the purchaser.’

‘no, you can’t.’

Simple as that.

‘Er.’ And the Ikan billis gulped, but she rallies, ‘Is she busy? Because this is important.’

A pause, then…

‘Yes, she’s been really busy. She’ll only be free next month. In fact, both the gals are up to their necks in work and I’d appreciate you not bothering them with such unnecessary details. You can pass me the problem.’


‘Right. Just email me the details. Good bye.’ Click.

Jane and Keisha have been relegated to menial workers with no voices. On the rare occasion when they did come down to get some items that had left during the move, everyone would stop work and ask them how they were. But just by looking at them, we didn’t have to ask. In that short time, they had lost a lot of weight, they had dark circles under their eyes and they look malnourished. Keisha's ribs had come out. Now, even PPQ is silent and no longer ribbing Keisha about weight issues. Jane, who had always been lanky, was now a shadow.

Sitting in Jane's old cubicle, hidden from the crowd, I cried that day.


Oh well, I guess today’s post will become a 2-3 parter after all. They will cover the following issue.
1. How a boycott started, how a team building issue became a contension. How Jane has now stpped all communication with me and we are no longer frens. How one half of the KNN eventually became our supervisor. How Ed may be leaving...

Yup, you heard right. Life as Ikan Bilis....crap.

That’s it for now, I think. It will only get worse, so for those looking for happy fluffy stuff to read about, try not to click in for this month.

Thanks all.



Old Beng said...

The KNN really knn, if you see them, please help lim peh to "pui" at them.

Acey Deucey said...

There's always the eject button, so why get depressed?

Keep your telescope up for potential job opportunities and all the best!

Anonymous said...


Just popping by - I hope that things will get better soon... In the meantime, jia you!!
- K

ah fatt's fan said...

Take care!

Zhe Bin said...

Some people stay in their job for many many reasons: good working environment, good team, good benefits, desire to make changes, unwilling to explore...

Which one of these categories are you in actually?

Jaschocolate said...

Babe, i understand..I left my first job when the company merged with another one.. Things just changed when everything got bigger and more crowded.. Take care.. ^_^

Ang Ku Kueh said...

old beng:

wah lau...like that sure kena lah! but i appreciate the gesture!


long time no see. ejcet button? yes yes...am now in the process, but really I'm not depressed for myself, its the fact that my frens are sufferring the te low morale of the whole place. it's knowing that it was once such a great place to work in and now this...difficult to swallow.

hi K:

thanks, i'll need it!

Ah Fatt's Fan:

I will, no problem. Thanks a lot, man! good to know you guys care.:)


hiya! see the comment for acey. I'm looking around actually. the eject button is always there, but it's really the people. When i first enter this work place, my thoughts was to really work it all th way up and out, i didn't think that in the process i would find such nice funny and caring frens who can make my job an enjoyable affair! i love going to work then. After that the change came, ppl started disappearing, shifting and getting abused. it's really terrible.

hey Jas,

oh well, its true that things do change, its just that somtimes u wish the chage would be for the better and not for the worse, yea? in any case, thanks a lot for the encouragement.

impetuousman said...

When work sucks, look at the money, and tell urself, "I m working for the money."
If that can't help, perhaps its time to look for another.

take care!

OLLie said...

Oh dear, that sounds so utterly horrid. You jiayou k? *hugs*

nadnut said...


steak treat soon?

sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maowie said...

hello akk, been a silent reader for so long and i really miss your posts! maybe to you im just a 'xiao mei mei' la, but your blog is really like a crash course for the working society to me.

just want to tell you self-encouragement is very important! no matter what happens, just tell yourself you're better than that! all these shits are nothing cos you're way better than that! meanwhile, just take care and try to make the best out of the worst k? it will be something you can be proud of yourself when you look back in the future :)

Anonymous said...

my friend from aussie ivanny had ur link on his page so i was checking it out.. i guess i know where you worked (well, science is not a v big field). now i'm pondering should i move on as well since the lab im currently in is.. sucha mess now =(

glad that u've made a decision (based on ur latest entry). hope things are going well for ya. i guess the readers miss the funny, humorous akk!

-NOT the previous anonymous.

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