Tales From The Dark Side (Part 1)

Dear Rockstar,

Mummy used to work in what many other professions would describe a decadent environment. (Yet she thinks every profession has good as well as horrible people.) Mummy writes some of these to make the point that you are who you choose to be.

It will always be your choice, how you react to someone’s behavior and their treatment of you. Most of the time, you will not have a chance to change the other person. So then why would you allow the other person, especially if it’s someone you hate, to change who you are?

Mummy was in banking for just over 10 years. At most she might have ultimately been in the industry 20, maybe 30 years. But she will be Aileen (which you currently love calling her, shame on you) for the rest of her life. She would like to have impressive and truthful answers ready for you one day when you ask her about her working life.

Every person has a price. This ranges from the very cheap (which Mummy uses to describe people who would love to kill you at work just for the pleasure of watching you die) to people whom she respected very much with their I-don’t-need-a-handicap-like-politics-to-kick-butt-especially-yours personalities.

Avoid the former when you can – Mummy doesn’t know all the ways for identifying the cheap people around you, but one way is to look out for insecurity – insecure people will make up many of the nuts you will meet at work someday. (And an Oxbridge degree btw, does not automatically a secure person make.)

Know when they will respect you? When you get so good at what you do you can totally leave the imprint of your on-sale Ferragamo slingbacks on their bum. But don’t take the cheap shot. People can respect you without liking you – and some people will simply prefer to dislike you no matter what you do. But if you really, really want to piss them off, just know they will hate themselves for respecting you.

The first (and by no means last) office affair experience:

Mummy had been an eager beaver in her first banking job barely 2 months when she became the subject of office gossip that she was in an affair with a trader who was about to be married. The person who started the rumor was her roommate during the bank’s off-site orientation program.

Months later, ms roommate and a different trader announced at a lunch with colleagues that they were finally ready to “go public” with their relationship – they would be leaving their spouses for each other. (Several months after that, they thoughtfully provided an “update” – they were switching to an “open” relationship – they could see other people as well as each other.)

Using Mummy as a distraction until they were ready to come out hadn’t been that much of a biggie for them. They probably didn’t think it was that bad a thing to do to someone. But they just totally freaked Mummy out. (Interestingly, the  older, engaged trader  whom Mummy was linked with took virtually no flak, whereas Mummy who was single at the time and in her early 20s bore the brunt of office scorn.)

Ms roommate thought it was hilarious to use the phone on the desk directly in front of Mummy to call the man’s (devastated, by all accounts) air stewardess wife.

Although Mummy learnt something, she’s not going to pretend: SHE FREAKING HATES THEM!!! It was one thing to spread that she might be promiscuous, it was quite another to imply she had no taste.

Lesson learnt:

Even if you do everything right and keep your nose squeaky, boringly clean, people just love believing the juicy bad stuff a lot more than the good stuff. So don’t waste the energy that Mummy did back then with her agonizing – it probably wasn’t personal. It probably wasn’t about you.

On hindsight your mother looked like such a deer in the headlights when she first started out. When she (metaphorically) raised her hand for more assignments, the boss flicked her off his sleeve, “this isn’t school anymore”. 3 years, 2 jobs and a haircut that chopped her near-waist-length hair into a very short pixie later, he finally looked at her in a different light when we both happened to be at a small lunch gathering together. Mummy hopes it wasn’t just the haircut.

Mummy’s point is, work hard and smart – just because you didn’t get the chance to impress someone today doesn’t mean you won’t get the chance in 3 years, 2 jobs and a haircut.

Janet Effect:

Janet was a money market trader who sat near Mummy. Unlike many traders who are professionally grouchy, Janet was a joyful person (who was occasionally also grouchy when the markets didn’t go her way, but never for very long). More importantly, bearing in mind talk is cheap, Janet walked her talk. And she was Christian.

Back then Mummy hated Christians. She quickly dismissed many she had met to be hypocrites and no one could talk her into believing. Add to that Grandmum and Great Grandmum whom Mummy loves very, very much are both staunch Buddhist/ Taoists.

But Janet believed in everything she said and did. Even during the first bank merger Mummy experienced. And deep in Mummy’s unbelieving heart, she couldn’t ignore that Janet believed. She respected Janet enough to follow her, still unbelieving, to a service in a church she particularly hated. It was extremely humbling for Mummy to accept God in that particular church that night, completely out of the blue.

This is not about how Mummy came to Christ, it’s about how powerfully effective someone who walks her talk can be. Mummy was the most unlikely convert – whom Janet converted.

Lesson Learnt:

Never underestimate the effect you will have on people when you are sincere.

Janet had had a tumor when she was much younger, and was expected to eventually go blind. She didn’t. But treatment was then expected to make her infertile. Mummy recently heard Janet, whom Mummy estimates to be in her mid-40s by now, gave birth to a healthy baby girl a couple years ago and has been out of the industry spending more time with her.

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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