Sunday, February 13, 2011

Career Minded

The other day, as I emerged from the bathroom, all freshly scrubbed and clean and headed for my bedroom, I passed Saffy’s open door. She was seated at her dressing table staring at her reflection in the mirror and singing softly.

What’s it all about, Sa-affy? Is it just for the moment we live?

I stopped at the door.

What’s it all about when you sort it out, Saffy? Are we meant to take more than we gi… Oh. My. God! How long have you been standing there, Jason! You’re like a creepy stalker!”

“Well, excuse me for having fully functional ears!” I said, then paused, waiting for a snappy comeback. But there was none. “What’s the matter with you? You’ve been moping around for days now.”

Saffy sighed, her fabulous bosom deflating with uncharacteristic defeat.

“Well, if you must know, I’m depressed!”

It turned out she had just had her annual performance review at work and it had not gone well.

“Apparently, I don’t take enough initiative. I don’t care enough, my boss said.”

I hesitated. “But isn’t that your job? To care? After all, you are the head of HR in that company!”

“But can someone tell me how I’m supposed to care about a bunch of talentless, lazy, good for nothings who are barely qualified to do the job they’ve been hired to do? And that’s just senior management! One of whom includes my boss!”

“Maybe it’s time to switch jobs?” I suggested.

“Ugh. It’ll be the same old crap at the next job. It’s all so incredibly pointless!”
Saffy’s point, of course, is that it’s all very well to have a fancy job description, but that only works if all the other elements are in place. To use her very lively analogy, it’s like being a chef at a French restaurant and the only thing your customers want is hamburger.

“It’s such a thankless job,” Saffy went on. “Janet Sia over in accounts hates her job because she’s doing the job of three people while her boss complains that all Janet ever does is chat online. And Janet says that chatting online with her support group of friends is the only thing that keeps her sane and anyway, why does her boss care as long as the work gets done even if it means Janet has to work till 10 each night and miss, and I quote, the best years of her children growing up? Meanwhile, I’m thinking, why am I responsible for everyone’s happiness? What about my happiness?”

The thing about modern working life is that the longer you do it, the more you realize how soul sapping it all is. Ask anyone and chances are they’ll tell you that if they had a choice, they’d be doing something else.

“God, I’d be a wedding planner!” Amanda said, when I asked her for her dream job. “I’d be so good at it. Interior design, bossing people around, flower arrangements, tasting food, wedding dresses. What’s not to love?”

“Me, hah?” Sharyn asked, her eyes enormous behind her thick glasses. “I think I want to be a spy!"

I was astonished. “For whom?”

“For Singapore gah-men, lor!”

Barney Chen says his dream job is to be an angel in a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “Body glitter, high heels, big wings, skimpy bikinis, big hair and lots of celebrities in the audience, I’d be in heaven!” he growled.

The question haunts Saffy. She recently changed her Facebook profile quote from “Do I look like I give a crap?” to “Nobody, on their deathbed, ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.”

It also disturbs her that everyone else seems to already know what their dream job is.

“You would think my dream job is to be a tai-tai, but I know I’d be bored by the time I’ve bought my second Birkin and sipped my first cup of tea.”

Barney suggested that she join him in the runway show at Victoria’s Secret to which Saffy replied that she feels too bloated to even think about squeezing into a string bikini.

“Well, I guess that rules out being a stripper then,” Barney said, adding, “which would be my second dream job.”

“And he was dead serious, too!” Saffy reported later.

Meanwhile, Janet Sia has resigned to become a stay-at-home mother, which Saffy thinks is incredibly selfish seeing as this is extra work for her to find a replacement.

“I’m so over it! Maybe I will be a tai-tai! I just have to find a man first!”

And that, as we know, is a whole other story.

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