Wednesday, August 31, 2011

merdeka: you chocolate people!

Almond London by Lydia's Corner
Almond London, a photo by Lydia's Corner on Flickr.
It was called fate. And my fate after I graduated with an accounting degree was to work in bank call center. I was grateful with the job since that job came with a good package. Yes, call me stupid but practicing account was the last thing I had in mind. At that time all I could think of was to go beyond the circle and to do what other people won't do. My friends were auditors, so what? My cousins were doctor and what...

I was in a multi-racial environment. At that time, we didn't have this 1 Malaysia concept or things like that. We were just US. A bunch of people who enjoyed life as it was, who were so thankful with the varieties of food every time we had potluck and cultural dance every time we had events. Name it, I learned several Tamil and Chinese cuisines, words and gestures. I even had samfu, sari and Punjabi suit of my own - just in case the team decided on colour or costume codes.

That day in 2007, I chose to wear kebaya nyonya instead. Oh, stop frowning! I used to have a body part called waist last time. With proportionate boobs and butt, I even managed to hook myself up with one of my seniors. In other words, yes...I was not totally tak laku...

My kebaya was blood red with alamanda embroidery and my sandal was gold. I wore red lipstick and traditional Malay make up on my face. I grinned at my friends who were wearing kurta and baju kurung while sending my perfect smile to this guy who was wearing baju Melayu. G...he was awesome! I remember the time when I used to adore men with ponytail. Especially when they had their baju Melayu clung to standard Malay men shoulders...fuuhhhh!!! You could see me gaping and drooling lah! Gerenti!

I was in jovial mood.

It was good to be jovial because in call center you have to smile when you answer calls. My trainer used to say this, "The customer could sensed your smile through the phone!" and my Team Leader used to put a mirror beside my PC. You see, I had reason why I preferred Credit Services compared to Collection or Sales. It made me all normal. When I was in Sales, I had to smile non-stop. Collection made me frown. But Credit? It made me smile and frown concurrently at the right time.

My shift was at 8.00 p.m Malaysian time. That was because I started work at 1.00 p.m UK time. The lunch hour. The Que was high and it was end of the month. Some customers were too happy because they just received their pay cheques, some were too grumpy because their money was swallowed by the overdrawn balance of their account or because they overspent on their debit card.

Well, Malaysians, those were the reasons which turned me a conventional customer. I learned my lesson well about debit card, internet banking and overdraft before Malaysian even knew what the heck were those thing (thinking that some people were so showy to me about what a bank can do...hehe).

That evening, I had Mrs. Cooper on the other line, asking for an increase on her overdraft. I ran through credit checks and said no. I mean, not "No Mrs. Cooper, you're not a good customer." Instead, it was "Apparently things are not as we wish, Mrs. Cooper; the system is not granting our request. Is there anything else I can do to help today?"

Well, I learned some manners in which it was not in my own language and not really going to help me to find a Malay husband but helped in polishing my skill in writing an English report. Or e-mail. Or whatever.

But Mrs. Cooper was not keen with my answer. She screamed at me!

" can't say I can't have it!"
"No, I didn't say you can't. I was saying that your application did not go through an appropriate reference check. Therefore, it was declined by the system."
"It's a same difference!"
"You can do something about it, Mrs. Cooper. I am willing to help you."
"What? You can find me another job, will you?"
"Maybe you can look into reviewing your income and expenditure, Mrs. Cooper. Job Seekers Allowance to be managed accordingly until your situation is okay," I said.
"Lady, you don't tell me what to do with my life!"
"Well, if that is how you look at it, Mrs. Cooper. We are also trying to assist you financially by providing the financial advice..."
"And which part of the world are you from, Sasha?!" she sounded so stressed up, I shivered. This customer would definitely blew my eardrums!

"Malaysia," I answered softly and nicely. Politely. Like a talking dainty porcelain doll.
"You're not even an English!" she exclaimed.
"I'm afraid I'm not, Mrs. Cooper," still polite.

And without me realising that it was 12.00 a.m (Malaysia Time) of 31st August 2007, she said,

"You chocolate people! I have no job over here and you're working in a UK bank! I repeat, it's our bank, dammit!"
"I thank my employer and your country for the opportunity, madam. Regardless where I am, I will help you."
"You moron!" she screamed.

My colleagues were singing Negaraku on the floor. Damn. This customer could kill me with her words!

"What's that sound?" she heard the national anthem.
"The national anthem, Mrs. Cooper." I said that with pride.
"What the're supposed to help customers. Not sing! Why are you singing?!"

Rahmaaaattt bahagiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...tuhan kurniakaaaaaaaaaannnnn...

"It's our Independence Day," I provided a simple answer.
"Independence?'re from the third world, aren't you," she provoked me.
"I'm from Malaysia."
"And who was there before, the Dutch? Spaniard? Italian? You are free people now, aren't you?"
"We are free from the British, Mrs. Cooper. The British was here."

And I heard her screaming. Again.

"And I'm here to assist. So tell me, what cause you to be in this situation, Mrs. Cooper?"

Raja kitaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....selamat bertakhtaaaaa....

"F@*K OFF," and she hung up.

Well, the job required patience and attentiveness. She was a desperate lady with a wall of pride, so that was how the conversation ended. How I wished that she appreciated the fact that I was another human being regardless where I was coming from. But folks, I bet most of us experienced the time when we screamed at an agent in a call center, kan? Oooo...don't bluff. I screamed at TM, Astro and even Celcom! :P

Today is the day where two good things are celebrated in one splendid day. Let's be thankful that some of us are on holiday (I did not, at least for three years of working in the foreign bank). Be thankful for the fact that we still have our loved ones around us, including our directive mother in-laws or a brother in law who love to talk politics when you're eating rendang. Be thankful that you have a job and a plate of rice to eat!

"If you're ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag."
-Mokhtar Dahari

Sha Cheryna:
* thanks to the people who have helped Ashraff Haziq during the London Riot and special thanks to my former mentor Helen J. Robinson for teaching me English. You're part of Malaysia too.

* I am eating lots and lots of Almond London and Chocolate Cake today:)


a kl citizen said...

wa.. membaca ni, terasa panas di telinga. thanx sha, for showing a real malaysian at heart .

selamat hari raya juga

Kak Azz said...

Nak kena chopped agaknya mrs cooper tu... Geram pulak dengan dia...

Salam Merdeka Raya untuk Sha dan keluarga.. Hepi2 selalu k... :D