28 October 2014
This is a date which sealed my fate - a date that no one would ever want to remember, for it was the day when I was officially terminated from my job. I was given a 24-hour notice, but will be paid a two-month salary in lieu. I was speechless when the bosses gave me excuses for the termination; not that I'm damn good, but due to unforeseen circumstances, and for the interest of their ailing business, they had to let go of a foreigner who commanded a higher pay than locals when the student enrollment fell.
It was a painful event, one that I hope will never ever be repeated. I believe it won't, as I vow not to ever join the tuition fraternity again. Working hours are irregular, lots of worksheets to prepare (especially for secondary), and there is no life after work for me, as I believe in preparing well ahead of my lessons. My health suffered when I was there; my relationship with a woman of 5-years crumbled as I had no time for anything and anyone. The bosses are generally very jovial, friendly but when it comes to business, they don't mind beheading even their best pals who do not bring in enough students.
I had a wonderful two years in Singapore. Despite the brief stay, my eyes were opened wide. I saw why that tiny island is the richest in Asia, and why things work efficiently there. It has its fair share of problems - crime, economic problems, xenophobics and public complaints of everything and everyone. That aside, I would say that Singapore is a great place to live. Not sure about retiring there though. Given a chance, I would want to be there longer. I applied for Permanent Residence (PR) but when the 6-month waiting period was just about over, my employment was halted, It was very heart-breaking. So near yet so far. Within a few weeks, I paid a visit on a Social Visit Pass a few times to Singapore, and finally packed my stuff back to Malacca for good, leaving behind good and helpful Singaporean colleagues and my ex-girlfriend who became a PR a few months earlier.
When relatives saw me at a wedding dinner, they asked their usual question: "Hey, so how long will you be back here?" and "When are you going back to Singapore?" - I'd normally feel great being able to work in a foreign land, as it is difficult to seek employment on that island. But this time around, I was the victim. I sheepishly told a white lie to shut them up, and to hide the fact that I was jobless. Alternatively, when I saw that someone was less judgmental, I'd just tell them: "I'll be back in Malacca... my employment pass was not renewed... enrollment wasn't good." - I felt like a bloody criminal when I had to tell the truth.
I started hunting for jobs, asking friends. My ex-girlfriend tried to get me back to Singapore, but I knew that once I'm out, there was no way I could get back in. Their policy on foreign employees have tightened two-fold since I was there.
8 December 2014
This date marks another chapter in my life. It was a date to remember, but for a good reason. I was to attend an interview in Johor Baru, another city which I dreaded. In fact, when the school called a week earlier, I refused to attend as I was hoping to get a job in Malacca which I had applied for. The school persisted when I failed to attend; they kept calling even a day after. I decided to return the call. So another interview was set for this date. In the morning of 7 December, I was still recovering from a stubborn flu. I told mom that I'm not going - I was almost half dead - and I was not going to drive 350km to the hotel in JB in that condition of mine. I cranked up my notebook to cancel my online hotel reservation. Internet speed was darn crappy as I had exceeded the 3GB broadband quota (it's back to normal now). I was about to hit the CANCEL button, when my ex-girlfriend who was on Viber asked me about my interview. She reprimanded me and told me that I have to take whatever opportunities that I had to get a job. It suddenly dawned upon me that if I had missed this chance, God knows how long I would have to wait for another interview from another school. So I immediately changed and told mom that I was going and be done with it.
On the day of the interview, I felt alright. I was like I didn't have a flu at all. That was strange. And getting to the school was not that difficult despite the heavy traffic. Of course, I made a survey of the location the day before with you-know-who who is a JB resident, so thank you. I didn't like the reception area; it's cold, and I'm not talking about the aircon temperature.
Waited quite a while for the Datin to attend to me. I was ushered into a meeting room to wait for her. She finally came and apologised to me. Surprisingly, she was plain Jane. No heavy metals on her body to flaunt her wealth. Then her husband, the Datuk, came in briefly. Very simple couple apart from their black Mercedes.
I had to do a mock teaching to Year 5 students who are actually two years younger than Malaysia's own Tahun 5 students, according to the Principal. I was nevertheless "peeing in my pants" but I used the knowledge and skills I learnt from Singapore to teach, and thankfully, I had asked for a stack of A4 papers from my ex-girlfriend the night before in anticipation that I might use it - I did. The rest was history.
The CEO (the Datin) and the Principal were impressed with what I had done in class, and hey presto, I was offered a job after some deliberation on their part. The only catch was that I had to give an immediate answer as they needed to do the timetabling the next day. I agreed without much hesitation, and was told to go for a medical nearby, which I did. It was unique, as the letter of offer was printed and signed on the spot. In the CEO's words: "We hardly do this, but your case is special." - because I was not local. I felt sorry for the other two candidates who were interviewed days earlier. This is an example of "potong jalan" unwittingly.
It's a 5-day week, 8:00-4:00 pm (officially) but could stretch up to 5:00 pm. Saturdays are generally off unless there are school activities, and I would enjoy all the three terms of holidays almost uninterrupted. So I don't have any more excuse of not being able to visit my mom more often (though not every single week), and no excuse not to say hi to Singapore occasionally.
The CEO went through with me the offer letter section by section to ensure I understood the contents. Don't ask me about my exact salary ok? Some relatives of mine had told me to put RM5,000 on my resume - they were so delusional. Obviously I got far less than that, but more than what I used to get in MMU. I am bonded for 1.5 years, so I can't go elsewhere. There's good and bad in this kind of agreement but never mind, I now have a secure job unless I fumble, and I need not worry about enrollment. Books... all come from the UK. Yup, I'm potentially dealing with local and foreign brats. Corporal punishment is outlawed in the school, but detention is fine. "You cannot touch them," the CEO put it sternly.
My next headache is looking for a place to rent. Up till the time this blog is written, most of the nearby rooms have been taken, and I stand a "good chance" of having to navigate through the heavy traffic, and waking up at 5:00 am, to reach school by 7:30 am. Never mind, if it has to be, it shall be. I hope for Divine interference again.
Would my streak of misfortunes in 2014 finally end? I hope so.
Thank you, God. Thank you all for your prayers.