30 April 2010

Quitters United

"You must be an evil, evil boss." I told Mr. B. after he announced that someone just quit on him today making the body count 5 out of 10 in the past 3 months.

"Thanks for making me feel better." he said dryly. "I don't think I am that evil."

"Well, someone must be then. Otherwise, why would they quit?" I said thinking he might feel better if I put the blame on someone else.

"I really don't know. It's too complicated." he avoided answering my question directly as he always does.

I know Mr. B. is a nice guy and I am sure he believes that he is caring and generous to the people who work in his team. But I learned that being a part of a larger team or organization. it sometimes get a little complex. It is not a matter of ability and skill but who you know and what others think of you. So I decided that when it comes to the subject of quitting, there are a few types of people: those who are fired from their jobs, those who quit their jobs, and those who quit their jobs before they get fired. All of them have one thing in common - they pack their things and disappear leaving behind a trail of unfinished works, unending criticisms from others and a boss with a hole in his head.

Some quitters think they ended their "sufferings" and make sure people who are left feel bad. Some quitters instinctively know that their days are numbered because of poor performance and choose to escape to a safer haven and start all over again. But I think most quitters sincerely believe that they are better than what others think and believe that they deserve something bigger. This is where most of the problems lie. Differences in perception. Which can lead to disastrous ending. Like quitting. Mass quitting.

"What you need, Mr. B. is someone who thinks exactly like you," I told him. "Someone who has the flair, who is charismatic, intelligent and at the same time street smart, creative, and does not require a lot of resources."

"I wonder who that could be?"

"That would be me." I said with a large grin.

27 April 2010

I Will Always Love You

Lately, there have been tons of video clips and media reports circulating around regarding the much-awaited comeback of Whitney Houston, who is considered one of the best vocalist and artist of the generation. Her world tour Nothing But Love started in Russia, then to Korea, Japan, Australia and now in the UK. All of a sudden, there were many Simon Cowell wannabe's putting their two-cents worth criticizing her performances as "laughable", "can't entertain a dead rat" and so on.

Whitney Houston was once a very successful model turned singer in the 1980's. Her debut album released in 1985 contained some of her most memorable songs such as All At Once, You Give Good Love, The Greatest Love Of All, Hold Me, How Will I Know and Saving All My Love For You, that's almost ALL the songs in the album. She became an inspiration to a whole new generation of female "divas" including the likes of Mariah Carey and Beyonce. She sold more than 170 million albums worldwide in her career.

Today, I watched some of her performance clips from Korea, Australia and the UK. I was dumbfounded by the person standing on stage struggling to finish even one song. Not only can't she hit the high notes in I Will Always Love You (after lowering the key of the entire song), she was screeching and coughing her way all throughout the number. The orchestra and her backup singers had to compensate by slowing down and enhancing the harmonies. She was sweating, jittery and looked disoriented. How sad to have to witness this happening to someone who was once on top of the world. It is even sadder to think that the public seems to be merciless and very unforgiving walking out in the middle of the show and demanding refunds.

I remember there was an interview of her by Diane Sawyer in 2002 where she asked Whitney, "10 years from now, give me the perfect life for Whitney Houston." She answered "Retired, sitting, looking at my daughter grow up, become a great woman of God, grandchildren..."

Almost 10 years on, I see a broken woman trying to get some respect and dignity back. Never mind the past glory. Perhaps if she can find peace, regain her health back and start anew, life will be much kinder to her.

Why don't humans remember the good? She is pushing 50 and therefore should not be expected to sing like when she was in her 20's. She also has gone through a lot in her life - drug addiction and violent marriage that contributed to her poor health and damaged singing voice. She must take care of herself now. Singing can wait. We all can wait when she is good and ready.

Video : Whitney Houston with All At Once.

23 April 2010

I Was Once A Bacteria

"It's true, Mr. B." I said excited by my new discovery. " I just finished watching this film and it says I was once a bacteria, like all the plants and animals and humans on Earth!"

"Some science fiction movie?"

"No! It's called Home, a film made this French moviemaker called Yann Arthus-Bertrand."

"I've seen that one, and believe me, you were not a bacteria before. You were born a bear." he answered. "But that is not the point of the film. It is about how humans have been using up the Earth's natural resources endangering the entire planet, about global warming and also carbon crisis."

"Oh I see... so the film is teaching humans what to do to save the planet?" I asked Mr. B.

"I don't know what you think," he replied. "But I think it didn't give any solution to all the problems it presented except that we should be responsible consumer and think about what we buy." At this point, Mr. B. left to take his nightly shower before going to bed leaving me wondering.

I actually didn't understand anything being said in the movie. It was all so allegoric. While it talked about some possible solutions such as using renewable energy, creating parks, international cooperation and general education, I really wonder how those can really help.

After a few minutes of contemplation, I decided that core problem of the Earth's slow destruction is human greed. Humans talk about conservation and going back to basics while at the same time cannot expend the comfort and luxuries that progress and modern living brings. I cannot envision humans walking to work, plant their own food, sleep without air-conditioning, live without electricity, pump their own water or not travel by any forms of vehicle. I am sure it is impossible for them to even think that. If only humans can want less, use less, waste less, that would be enough to gradually reverse the situation.

"Do you know how much they spent to make that movie?" Mr. B. said as he came out of the shower. "US$12 million."

Note: Home is a non-profit film. It has no copyright and can be broadcasted, downloaded, copied, viewed and shared by anyone in this planet.

21 April 2010

A Hole In My Head

"I've got a hole in my head. I am so stressed!" Mr. B. proclaimed.

And as if I haven't notice that button-sized bald spot he has been trying to hide for the past 2 months, I tried to console him. "You know it will go away," I replied. "Give it a few months."

"And I have this horrible eye infection! I am so stressed!"

Now his eyes he can't hide unless he wants to go around pretending to be a pirate. "Just relax, Mr. B. You are starting to make me stressed too!" I said. "What are you all so anxious about anyway?"

"So many things. Mostly people at work." he said.

I can sense that he didn't want to go into detail but I can safely guess that it has something to do with the fact that he recently realized that some people he considered friends in the workplace turned out to be selfish, self-serving individuals who only cared about themselves. It must have hurt for his kindness to be repaid with deceit and hypocrisy.

"When do you think I would grow my hair back?" he asked checking himself in the mirror.

"When you learn to let go, Mr. B." with that I turn to watch my favorite TV show.

15 April 2010

The Imperfect Tense

In many ways, the human workplace is like a mini country. This I gathered from Mr. B.'s many stories about the pfunny pfarm. First of all, the success of this mini country is very much dependent on the type of leader, or government, it has - which could range from be a democracy (where power is shared) to a dictatorship (where only one individual takes control).

Then there is the citizenry, the people residing in the organization who could be happy, not too happy or angry. More often than not, the degree of happiness would depend upon the distribution of wealth in relation to the work they have to perform. Of course, this is where most of the citizens have their 2-cents-worth. They believe they are giving more than they are getting.

Which then leads to the next point. Some of these people leave the mini country to migrate to a greener pasture where they believe they are getting more than what they are giving. Those who don't have any other choices but to stay grudgingly toil themselves half-dead.

Mr. B. told me today that he has never seen as much tension in his mini country as in the past week. People losing temper, backstabbing, complaining, crying, launching cold war, launching offensive attacks... all the while the delusional leader stays nonchalant about the going ons.

Humans are strange. They allow themselves to be used and abused all in the name of making a living. And really, it's all about that food on the table.

05 April 2010

Carousel Of (Human) Life

It was supposed to be a 4-day holiday for Mr. B. but he told me he never felt he was able to rest or do anything much. He attended a cocktail/dinner organized by a friend who is selling his flat very soon (the last party). He had tea with a friend who just purchased a new flat (who also invited Mr. B.'s former colleagues, people he haven't seen for many years). He also went to his uncle's to pick up some snacks and preserved fruits his mother sent all the way from the Philippines. He also visited a dear friend who wanted to consult D. on some legal matters.

In the meantime, a friend from the past requested him to translate a folk song so he would understand the lyrics. Another friend called to alert a friend who has gone "missing" in Bangkok owing to the fact that he has never written since the start of the year (he used to drop a line or two to update his status every two weeks).

Mr. B. checked his Facebook and found his friends are playing games or posting new photos of their recent trips or their babies. One stood out. "Did you go to church today? Happy Easter!". No he didn't. He had to go around the city to run errands. But he was able to sneak a haircut. And he was able to finish part of the work he took home right before the holiday started.

"Did you go to church today?"

Not that it really matters because the last time Mr. B. went to church was New Year's Day. Perhaps he didn't see the need to commemorate the death of Jesus since he resurrected anyway. Why mourn for his death? He came back to life, didn't He? His birthday, yes, we celebrate that but really, why bother remembering his temporary death?

I don't know what Mr. B. is thinking and I don't want to judge him. Those were just my thoughts. Maybe he was really busy living his life, the way people continue playing Mafia Wars or posting latest baby photos. Maybe it really doesn't matter. Next year, we would all be in the same place again. No matter how fun the carousel ride is, we all come back to the same place. Again.

Photo Credit : Merry Go Round by Ali Miri

01 April 2010

To Love Him

"I do not understand this," I asked Mr. B. tonight. "How come humans do these things during Good Friday?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like, I read that some people do not eat, some whip themselves or carry a big wooden cross around or even have themselves nailed on the cross. Is this the way they show their love to God?"

"Yes, I believe that is what they think they are doing." Mr. B. answered.

"But why would they want to do that? Why would they want to hurt themselves?"

"Because they think that by doing do, they are cleansing their sins. It is called an act of penance." Mr. B. explained patiently.

"That is the part that I don't understand, Mr. B.," I said. "If Jesus already died for the sins of every human beings, why do they still need to do the things they do?"

"I wish I know the answer to your question but I don't." he replied as he walked away to prepare his meatless supper.

Humans are strange. They do things they think they need to do to please God. They donate money, they help the poor, they fast, they hurt themselves. But if they were to believe and have faith to what they should be believing and have faith in, they should really do... absolutely nothing! Because if Jesus already died for everyone, there is really not much else to do - all their debts are paid for. And if they think that they are doing what they are doing because that is what God wanted them to do, it is even stranger. That would mean that God's love is conditional.

I sat silently beside Mr. B. as he ate his meatless supper. I wanted to ask him what the purpose of not eating meat is, but I bit my tongue. Mr. B. is human. Therefore he is strange too.

Video : "I Don't Know How To Love Him" by Yvonne Elliman from Jesus Christ Superstar


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