Posts about rants

Being fair and professional

This subject has to be one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome and conquer within your own personality and desire, especially when it risks tainting the working relations with others. Easier said than done but once you are able to seize control of yourself and emotions, it will help to improve the working relations among your colleagues. I believe that in any environment, especially in a highly political working environment, one should display professionalism and control their emotions instead of sulking when things do not happen in your favour.

Lately, I have been increasingly annoyed by individuals who decided to take things into their own hands and make use of the situation to their. I find that this is being unprofessional and very unacceptable as you are being insensitive, selfish and simply making use of the situation to your own advantage. It is indeed disappointing, as you have placed the priority of your own well-being ahead of the others — so much for being entrusted as one who is able to defend the country, lead and take care of your men’s welfare!

Knowing that such individuals actually exist within my organisation worries me as I know that such an individual cannot be trusted and one will absolutely have no idea when the hidden weapon will be unleashed.

#

Letter of complain to Philips

Hello,

Two week ago, I sent an email to your consumer care department to enquire about replacement accessories for my DECT phone. Within seconds of sending the email, my mailbox chirped to inform me of new unread messages. Turned out that it was an automated email from you informing me that I’ll receive a response for my inquiry within four business days.

I waited patiently and checked my mailbox daily, eagerly waiting for your response. To my disappointment, I have not receive any reply from you till this date, not forgetting that you promised to reply my email within four business days. Feeling betrayed, I decided to look up for your phone number on the telephone directory and give you a call.

It took a few rings before an “interactive” machine answered my call. All I wanted at that moment was to speak to someone, a human, to resolve my query. Nevertheless, I patiently listened to the options issued by the machine and entered my choice accordingly. It took 3 prompts before I was given the option of speaking to a customer service agent. I thought that was it, finally a human is speaking to me.

To my horror, almost immediately after I have entered the option on my keypad, the following message was being played:

Please hold while your call is being transferred to a customer service agent.

We are sorry to keep you waiting. All our agents are busy. Please hold and your call will be answered as soon as possible.

and for every 10 seconds of waiting on the line, the following message was being repeatedly announced:

We are sorry to keep you waiting. All our agents are busy. Please hold and your call will be answered as soon as possible. The customer care officers are currently speaking to other customers who have called earlier. This interactive system allows you a choice to select the enquires you have requested and the system will provide an immediate reply. To make this choice, please return to the main menu by pressing 1, to choose to hold and wait for a customer care officer to speak to you, press 2.

After five attempts of repeating the above message, the system eventually directed my call to an answering machine. I refused to leave a message as I wanted to speak to a human, not a machine!

Eventually after three phone calls and going through the same channel, someone finally picked up my call. I started to enquire and explain what I’m searching for when suddenly, the customer service agent interrupted me midway and said “whatever”. I was shocked and lost for words for a few seconds as I have never encountered such bad customer service in my whole life! Without waiting for a response, she gave me another number and told me to call that number instead before hanging up on me.

Feeling frustrated, I dialed the number that was given to me by that rude service agent. Once again, my call was answered by that annoying automated machine of yours! It wasn’t long before another service agent answered my call and told me “wrong department”. I was fuming by now as not only was the first service agent rude and unhelpful, she had further worsen the situation by giving me the wrong number. Luckily, the second customer service agent was kind enough to take note of my particulars and query so as to pass it on to yet another service agent who will return my call.

I wasn’t expecting to receive any calls after going through the load of rubbish but someone from your company eventually returned my call and provided me answers on what I’ve requested for.

Judging from what I’ve experienced from this incident, I vowed not to purchase any Philips product in future. This is not because your products are lousy but rather, I would not dare to risk waiting for support department to entertain my queries while my Philips product is smokin’ away.

Yours sincerely,

Alvin

# 4

On discipline

This topic has been discussed numerous times at work and each time, it is the same old reminders and enforcement. I’m kind of sick and tired of it not because I cannot uphold my discipline but more of having to put up with inconsiderate behaviour among the gang.

During one of the classroom discussions today, my superior once again reminded us to maintain discipline and stay out of trouble. I agreed with most of what has been said except for one particular point that in my opinion will send the wrong signal to the offenders. It was mentioned that most people would overlook things sometimes and it is only right for the others among the group to remind one another. I can’t helped but wonder how would one learn his lesson if the group is tasked to remind the person?

Supposedly someone constantly gets into trouble. Instead of accepting the punishment alone, the whole group will be punished simply because no one in the group bothers to help the victim avoid getting into trouble. Now, what message do you think one is trying to get across to the offender? I’ll simply put it that the offender will not be bothered since the group will get a fair share of the blame as well.

I think this is not the right approach for one to learn from the mistakes committed — not to mention that the punishment is ineffective. It is most certainly unfair for the rest to accept the punishment just because of the rash act of one, which is not within anyone’s control but more of self-discipline.

#

Building a gracious society

I was catching up with some reading on current affairs a few days ago and I realized that there were many issues that concern the society being debated. It ranges from drink driving to little bugs, manners and etiquette — you name it, it’s being discussed. This made me wonder why those involved continues to commit the act without hesitation or thought.

Statistics have shown that road accidents in Singapore that occurred due to drink driving are on the rise, compared to 2005. Despite reminders from the police and stepped up patrols, accidents involving drink driving continued to escalate. It seems to me that either the punishment for drink driving is lacking or whatever campaign the authorities have launched to curb drink driving is ineffective. I’m also curious to know why people can’t be more responsible.

Perhaps, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest a better approach to tackle the drink driving issue. For every patron who drives, the keys to his vehicle will be handled over to the pub/club’s security for safekeeping. Those who drink are required to take a breath analyzer test before leaving the club and should the person fails; he/she will have no access to the vehicle and will have to take public transport instead.

As for the little bugs, I don’t think it’s appropriate for law enforcement personnel to patrol and play the hide and seek technique of trying to catch the culprit. Instead, the responsibility lies on the parents whom should have taught their kids and cultivating the correct behavior and habit from young. I remember when I was in United States, people there seems to have better etiquette. One will not see used serviettes or even a dirty table in the food court. The people are responsible enough to clean up before leaving for the comfort of the next user. I thought this was a wonderful and gracious act which I hardly see it back home.

So, this brings the question of how can we as individual help to contribute to build a gracious society. To start off, we can set good examples by doing the right things. For those young parents, teach your kids well so that the next generation will not repeat the same mistakes made. Of course, I’m not saying it’ll be 100% effective or we’ll see a perfect society but it should be a good starting point. After all, we all know that there isn’t a perfect world out there isn’t it?

#

Does public image matters

While on my way home from the hospital after my PRK review, I decided to ride a bus over the train as I thought it would be more peaceful during the hour when school’s out and it’s just after lunch time — the bus will be near empty. However, the peaceful environment was ruined after a few stops when there was this large group of students whom boarded the bus. Initially, I thought it was fine since they were young adults and wouldn’t be an issue. Turned out that I was wrong. These group of about forty students behaved like a bunch of primary school kids going out for an excursion.

The first thought that came through my mind was when will they be alighting? I’m still an hour away from my destination and it’ll be a pain in the ass having to bear with these group of students for an unknown duration. I know it may seem that I’m being selfish and unreasonable as I’m taking public transport and should have known for the better that these are expected behaviors. Luckily, the uneventful occurrence lasted for less than 15 minutes and as they alight the bus, I realized that they were actually being led by a few lecturers. To my surprise, they were indeed on an excursion or at least some kind of gathering.

I would have been able to tolerate such behavior if they were individuals but to see that they were in fact being led by lecturers and that it was such a big group, I have reservations over their actions and behavior. This made me wonder if public image for individual or even representing an organization is indeed important? Although it was heartening to see that the school was practicing the concept of “learning out of the classroom”, which our education ministry is actively prompting, it was disappointing to note that the school somewhat did not even have the courtesy and budget to hire a private bus for such purpose. This also makes me wonder what if it happens that there were tourist on the bus at that moment — what will their impression of Singapore and how would they view our society and people?

This may not bother some out there but I felt that public image is certainly important. Not only have the students gave the wrong signal to the public, they have also damaged the school’s image and certainly brought great inconvenience to other passengers.

#

Just some thoughts and updates

It has been almost a week since I last blog. It could be plain laziness or simply because I’m too occupied with other issues on hand, which I have no idea what exactly it is. Somehow, ideas and thoughts have been popping up in my head and I have been trying to write it without success.

Recently, there have been many changes in terms of regimentation and environment at my workplace. In the past, regimentation was not really enforced strictly and the way of life is very much relaxing and easy going. However, we have been told that things are tightening up due to that fact that someone apparently “burnt the bridge” and pissed off some senior folks. This in return sparked a chain of events that led to everyone’s dissatisfaction and frustration. So, what exactly has been enforced at this point of them? In short, here’s a list of some of the changes:

  • Marching from point to point, includes booking in or out of camp
  • Half-marching when moving within buildings
  • Wearing of head-dress within buildings, etc.

If you have not realized, these rules actually mimic the standards of OCS. As a cadet, I’m so used to such regimentation that it does not really affect me when the rules were being enforced. Of course, this does not necessarily means I like this kind of regimentation having seen a place that was once so carefree turning into an OCS like. Still, there’s still more freedom as compared to OCS. I felt that perhaps it was time for such regimentation to be enforced and serve as a form of wake-up call for those who thought that military life is easy-going and slack. However, there must be a balance between the need to strictly enforce the rules and go by the book as well as knowing when to have fun and relax. If you try to rule like an iron fist, not only will your ideas backfire but people will also rebel — part of human nature.

Likewise, as the course sergeant major, discipline comes under my watch — not that I’m perfect but it’s my duty and I try to perform it well. In one of my previous entry, I mentioned about the dilemma and difficulties faced as a course in-charge back then. Somehow, this seems to have returned now that I’ve being appointed with a new role to play and at the same time, the need to maintain interpersonal relations among colleagues and yet being professional while serving my duties. At times, human just can’t seems to understand the rational of things being done and make things even more complicated than ever before!

Enough of regimentation said. On the brighter note, I finally secured my first IPPT silver award today. Surprised you might be but I’ve got to admit that this is my ever first silver award attained in my life. I’m proud of this little achievement as there is some form of significance in it. For one, this will be the last IPPT I’ll be taking at least for the next few months due to the fact that I’ll be going for my eye surgery (vision correction) next week, and will be barred from participating any form of physical activities for at least 3 months. Yes, it is going to be miserable as I can’t swim and I feel crippled without exercising.

I hope the surgery will be a smooth process and hopefully, things will change for the better when I return to work in the next few weeks.

#

Culture differences

Before reading my thoughts for this entry, I would like to make it clear that I’m not pin-pointing any organization or person. References, if any, are simply quoted as examples. All of these are my personal opinions and thoughts and in no way it shall represent the organisation and/or views of anyone. In fact, if you observe closely, what I’ll be expressing in this article can most certainly occur in almost everywhere in our daily lives. Please read my disclaimer for clarifications.

Having served the military for a year now, I’ve had many opportunities to have an insight and learnt about the organisation, its management and people. I’ve come to realize that it is not easy to management a group of people, especially so if you are working in a big organisation. I’m sure many would agree that there are bound to be office politics in any organisation but in a military organisation, there’s simply more than office politics as there is a standard chain of command as well as the rank hierarchy to respect.

There are a few incidents which I’ve observed and would like to share and express my views on. As a trainee, one has to listen to the instructors and take orders without displeasure. Most of the time, these are errands out of your job scope but because you have no say and to avoid getting into trouble, you’ve got no choice but to do it. For example, recently, there was a donation drive. Instead of donating any amount (which should be the case) as wished, one is expected to donate a minimum amount. I believe that donation is one’s will of willingness and should not be forceful. In this case, because of pressure and orders, we have to adhere to it in order not to get into further argument or even worst, be invited to have a “sharing session” with senior commanders.

Next, I’ve seen what is known as “abuse of the system”. For example, there will be duty personnel scheduled to perform various duties in the office daily. The job ranges from picking up newspapers, cleaning the pantry to making coffee and many others. One may argue that this is a good form of training but personally, I may not have seen the bigger picture of how this will teach, cultivate and benefit the trainees in particular. Basically, one will rely on the “extra hand” and eventually it will be abused for personal gains and pleasure. I think all of these are not right and it instils the wrong teachings to the younger generation.

Compared to what I’ve seen during my internship at a renowned US company, it is a total culture difference. I see that US companies value their employees, are more transparent and this in turn give an impression of an open and relax working environment. If you would to ask me can Singapore achieve this kind of environment and cut the red tape? I think for now, the answer would be a no. Our bad habits have been around for too long that it’ll need a powerful sweep before we can see things change for the better. I presume this would be one of the factors why many decided to migrate to other places where one can taste the true meaning of life, work, family and fun without a stressful and yet political working environment we experience in our daily lives!

#

Avoid spilling oil or you'll be asking for trouble

A stupid lizard catching session caused me to accidentally spilled oil onto the floor. What makes things worst is that the lizard was not caught after all! It was not my idea. Apparently, someone in my household cannot stand the sight of lizards and the mind would not set at ease should we fail to catch the lizard.

Yes, I agree that lizards are irritating and I’ve had bad experiences with it. When I was young, a lizard fell onto my arm while I was sleeping on a bed placed next to a wall. Of course, I screamed and jumped out of my bed as the lizard’s body is cold and there’s this eerie feeling that follows. Now that I’ve grown up, I still hate the sight of lizards because it means I have to assist in lizard hunting sessions but it doesn’t really bother me anymore. If you were to think of it the other way round, it’s embarrassing that human being like us are afraid of something that is so small? It should be the other way round isn’t it! That’s why you see lizards dodging when the spot the sight of big objects approaching them.

And so, I had a hard time trying to clean the pool of spilled oil. The more you try to clean it, the worst it is. I had to resort to powerful cleaning agents to clear the mess and there’s still this slippery effect on the affected portion of the floor after the clean up. Not only do I have to clean the pool of oil, I had to de-oil the rags and the pail, which was used to fill the water and detergent! What a day indeed!

#

Trust

A few incidents over these few weeks have taught me to self reflect and learnt the true meaning of friendship, colleague and trust.

Here is a list of definitions that best fits my interpretation of these 3 words:

  1. Trust: Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing
  2. Friendship: The quality or condition of being friends
  3. Colleague: A fellow member of a profession or an associate

I used to be naive as I thought that it is alright to share some of the happenings in my personal life with friends or even colleague. I do not mind being the joke of one’s conversation occasionally but I will never make someone the laughing stock of a conversation. Sometimes, I wonder why human can continuously talk about others without realizing that they have past the limits even though one may claim that they know the “subject” can tolerate such behavior. What makes you think that you can read the person’s mind or even feelings?

In my opinion, I would not be really bothered if I so happen to be a laughing stock of someone’s conversation. Instead, I would take it as a form of training of my character and patience. However, I would draw a line when it comes to personal life and work simply because I’ve gone through painful experiences of someone whom I thought that can be trusted but it turned out to be the opposite.

I’ve learnt to be wise in my choice of words and think twice before sharing my personal life experiences with someone I really rely upon. Remember — once you betray and/or break the trust of someone, you’ll never gain back the same level once placed upon you because the crack will always be visible no matter how hard you try to make up for your actions.

#