Saturday, December 26, 2015

Job Scope

A few years ago, I was in London and my friend Judy invited me to her house for dinner.
            At the table was her school friend Emily and Emily’s teenage son, Jasper. Between the terrible first course of anemic vegetable soup and an even worse main course of overcooked beef, it turned out that Jasper was about to enter university.
            “What are you reading?” I asked. In the UK, people don’t study a course – they ‘read’. It’s all very atas, as Sharyn would point out in a condemnatory sort of way.
So Jasper looked up from his overcooked beef, pushed his thick forelocks out of his eyes like a young Hugh Grant, and said, in a super posh accent the Queen would have felt very much at home listening to, “Oh, I’m reading ancient Celtic.”
Everyone at the table murmured with admiration. I frowned.
“Uhm,” I said and found myself completely at a blank as to what to say next. So, I tried again.
“It’s not a very popular course,” Jasper went on. By that time, I’d been in England long enough to know that when the English say something deprecating about what they’re doing, this usually means it’s a big deal.
            My friend Mark’s father once said he couldn’t make it to a lunch at my place because he had to go into hospital that day for a procedure. “Damn nuisance, really,” he told me. “Just something I’ve been putting off for ages and I thought I’d better get it done. It’s all very boring.”
            It turned out to be an operation to remove a tumour from his left lung.
            That’s how the English talk.
So, when Jasper said ancient Celtic wasn’t a very popular course, what he really meant was that it was so difficult nobody with an IQ less than 250 would ever bother to apply.
Recently, Sharyn has been under a great deal of stress worrying about her eldest son’s exams.
“Aiyoh, I hope he gets into medicine! If not, ah, chiam, ah!”
Saffy looked up from admiring her bosom. “Why? Is he really dead set on becoming a doctor?”
Sharyn looked perplexed at the question. “No. Doctor got make a lot of money, mah, so he become doctor, lor!”
Saffy looked at me for support.
            “Oh, don’t look at me. I’m totally with her on this!” I said.
“But Shazz,” Saffy began, giving me a dirty look. “You can’t make your son do medicine if he’s not into it! What’s his passion?”
“What you mean?”
“He’s got to love what he’s doing! What’s the point otherwise?”
Sharyn rolled her eyes. “Aiyoh! Most important ting about a career, hor, is can you make money? If cannot, then don’t do!”
Saffy blinked. “But…”
“You love being HR manager, issit?” Sharyn asked.
“Well, of course not, but…”
“But you do the job because you must pay SingTel, mah!” Sharyn was on a roll. “When he was young, my son say he want to be musician. Like Mah-loon Figh! I ask him, how many Mah-loon Figh in the world? He say he like music. He say music is his passion. You know what I say or not? I say,” Sharyn didn’t pause for an answer, “I say, passion cannot buy you a condo or pay for dinner! But doctor bill confirm can, one!”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “That is so incredibly materialistic, Sharyn!”
“Aiyoh, where got? In life, hor, you must be realistic, mah! I hate when people talk about finding their passion! Siow ah. You think everyone like Oprah and Jennifer Law-lence, issit? The trick, hor,” Sharyn said, her eyes magnified behind her Coke bottle-thick spectacles, “ is not to find a job you love, but to find a job you hate the least!”
“Oh my God, I really must write all this down!” I said, pulling out my phone. “This is gold!”
“Ah, good, you write down,” Sharyn said with approval. “Then can print out and show my younger son so I don’t have to repeat myself. Not like Jason friend son, the one who want to study ancient…ancient what ah?”
“Celt!” I said.
“Yah, ancient Celt. So stupid that boy! Where got anyone make money from learning ancient Celt, one? Some more, hor, I don’t even know what that is? Issit like very old car-pet?”
“No, it’s a tribal language that no one speaks anymore,” I said.
“Lagi worse!” Sharyn announced.
Saffy later said she couldn’t decide what was more annoying: the possibility that Sharyn might actually be right about doing the job that you hate least, or the fact that she might actually like her job as an HR manager.
Who likes being an HR manager!” Saffy moaned.

No comments: