Monday, August 30, 2010

My Boss, Madam Cruella deVille

In my previous two posts, I gave you some reasons why I love my job.

I wonder about people who are stuck in jobs they loathe. And a lousy boss may be one of the reasons for this. Some bosses are cantankerous, demanding, ridiculous, frustrating, heartless, pernickety (because I like that has a nice sound to it - like vuvuzela! which I mentioned in my post about the W.C. If you want to read about that, click on the blue)

I've worked under a principal of a tuition centre before, who actually walked into my class that was going on and decided to draw, with a marker, on the floor, the outline of each leg of each chair (that's four legs per chair for those who may be math-challenged) in the front row as she didn't want the chairs to be out of position.

I've worked under a boss before, who would yell at his staff (clerk, engineer, it didn't matter) if they fouled up, in the presence of the rest of us, or in his glass-walled room, the sounds of which could still be heard as it was a little office with few staff. I remember appealing to the clerk not to quit (the day he yelled at her yet again), when I found her shaking and quivering outside the toilet. She quit anyway. sigh.

On the other hand, I've had a boss who was out with her little daughter one day, and on admiring a blouse in a window display, she consulted her daughter, "Do you know who might like that blouse?" and the girl who knew I loved handcrafted things and this was one such-looking blouse, said "Auntie Val!", and my boss went right in and bought it for me!

And then I've had a British lady boss who, on finding out from another staff that I was 'spotting' during my third pregnancy, not only insisted I go home, but called me that night to re-assure me, as well as several days after.

So yeah, I've had my share of good and bad bosses.

Right now, I have a great boss, Ms Huda. (And I'm not saying this just cos she reads my blog. Heh!)

She is fun-loving yet serious about her work.

Some bosses are
just. serious.

They are so driven, they see their staff not as human resource but just resource - things necessary to have around to get to where they want to go.

My boss is sensitive to my feelings (I'm personalizing these statements because I don't want to speak for others. They can say what they want to on their blogs, right? (hee.) She cares about what's going on in my life because in my opinion, like it or not, what's going on in people's lives does affect their performance at work.

Some bosses only want to know what goes on nine to six at the workplace. They don't care if you're going through a divorce, showing signs of needing psychiatric help, or if you've come to work with bruises on your body or a black eye. They won't even notice if maybe you've been walking around like a zombie for days because you are harboring suicidal thoughts, or if you're thinking of going on a shooting rampage. I just read of one such boss commenting that he noticed his employee sometimes sat in a drain and talked to himself. Huh? My question is what did he do if he noticed that? This same employee later killed his grandmother, father and two more relatives because he was "hearing voices" telling him to do so.

My boss cares about our health. I've actually worked at a place where even though my colleague had a sore-throat and could hardly speak, was still required to go to work. And this was to teach a class! (I'm not oblivious to the fact that some people will make excuses to take the day off. But really, how often do you think you can you get away with that?)

My boss listens. To frustrations, to ideas, to new ways of doing things. She is not stuck in a rut of we've-always-done-it-this-way-and-that's-how-it's-gonna-be. She lets me breathe. I can be crazycuckoocreative and come up with the zaniest ideas and she will actually consider them!

My boss even goes so far as to care about what my future looks like if I continue to stay on foreverandever amen. She offers suggestions, makes openings, and talks through my plans.

My boss appreciates me.
But boy, do I have a story to tell you!

I have worked in a pre-school before, for a full three days....and then I quit! I had never done anything like that before (quitting), but the Principal (I shall call her Madam Cruella De Ville) was an ornery woman who had the strangest rules and ways of dealing with the kids as well as teachers.

Coloured bamboo blinds at the porch needed to be rolled down in the morning and rolled back up in the evening....which is not a problem, right? Except it had to be this teacher rolls this set of blinds.. that teacher that set, and that arrangement is changed weekly. Meaning I get a different set of blinds each week. How exciting is that? By the way, one of the teachers' names was Orange. Yes, Orange. She was from China. So it was, "Ms Valerene, you will roll up the blue blinds this week. Ms Orange, you will roll up the green blinds..." That's how crazy it was over there, I'm not kidding! And I thought my husband and I were colourful people! (you can read about that here)

Every bead, seed, letter, counter, and block (and there were hundreds) needed to be counted at the end of every Friday. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what that involved:

Each classroom had a potted plant and each teacher had to take it down to be left on the porch for the weekend. Which is not a problem, right? I can see how a vibrant plant like this one would make me happy when I walked into the classroom, and contribute to my oxygen intake.

Or a plant like this one would surely beautify the class!

But my plant? Did it look anything like anything? NOOOOOOOOO....I have no picture (how would I have known I would start a blog some day?) but this is kinda what it looked like.
. coming....
. wait....
. hold your heart....

All together now.... sighhhhhhh.

I love plants, mind you. I grow them, too (reeally!

But this one? just made me re-think about...euthanasia.
Someone has to put an end to its misery.

I had already noticed on the first day that the maid was awfully quiet, always looking at me from the corner of her eye (to see if she'd find a confidante in me was my guess). And there's a reason for this random sentence you just read.

On that very first day of school for that year, and my very first day at that pre-school, just before the students trickled in, Madam Cruella had shouted at Orange for not showing the new apprentice staff where to put her handbag. She then continued to tick her off in the office, which brought on more drama, where I saw the apprentice run out and drive off in a hurry, with the reprimanded teacher running after her, trying to stop her! What?

On the second day, I saw Madam Cruella and teacher were pissed off (pun punnnnn) with a FOUR year old for peeing on the floor. Said teacher had not allowed the little girl to go to the toilet cos she had asked to, too many times. Oh c'mon, it was a new student and her second day of school! Even F1 drivers need to pee! (see here?)

Then, I was in the kitchen during breaktime, when I heard the maid gingerly tell Madam Ornery Personified that she had broken a glass mug in which the latter's herbal tea was, but that she had saved the drink into another mug. Undoubtedly, that was pretty dumb. But considering she was probably an uneducated village girl from Indonesia who was terrified that Madam Cruella's wasted drink would bring on her wrath, she probably would've thought saving it and owning up might be a better option. Well, Oscar-the-Grouch-Female-Version grabbed a tea-strainer,
poured the drink through it
the strainer, with the shards of glass in it, to me to have a look. Madam Cruella, red with rage, needed empathy. "YOU SEE OR NOT?" she growled. I bit my tongue, held my breath and was starting to turn blue from the effort. Why-oh-why, couldn't it have been Orange who was in the kitchen?

I was staying as calm as possible, all the time wondering why-oh-why did I have to be a witness to the greater crime about to be committed cos that's gonna involve driving into town, standing on a witness stand, taking oaths I don't want to, saying things I have to, trying to recall the time, every word, the twitch, the weapon, the blood, the gore....ARRRGH!

Madam flailed the strainer in front of the maid and demanded to know if the maid wanted her to die (while I was desperately muttering to myself, "please don't answer that, please.don't.answer.that"). Actually, thinking back about it, it was quite funny...and it's funnier in Malay..


Now it's my third day. For some reason, the only 5-year old special child we had in that pre-school, had been strangely 'transferred' to my class that day. While in my class, she had apparently taken a piece of a puzzle and not put it back in its place. When Madam Cruella walked into my class, she noticed it immediately and took the girl by the shoulders and shook her, demanding why she had not put it back! Mind you, this was a special child!

And that was the last straw for me. (I did have a talk with Madam where I 'advised' her before I left, but I'm cutting a long story short).

Now can you see why I appreciate my present boss?

Is your boss the reason for wanting to leave? Or do you have a fairly ok ok boss, not sterling material, but neither is he DespicableMe material.

Appreciate him.

Oh, and Huda? Selamat Hari Raya.

Because of you, I've never had to pee on the floor.

p/s if you're reading my blog, do sign up as a follower if you haven't already. C'mon, don't be shy. And leave a comment here cos I love to read your comments. They will not appear immediately but they will come to me first, then I have to 'publish' them. And I do try to reply every comment, too. If you read "this comment has been removed", it is not because I didn't like it, but I sometimes mistakenly published the same one twice, so I removed the extra one.

Friday, August 13, 2010

(Part 2 of) Why I Love my Job

In my post before this, I mentioned a few reasons why I love my job. But first, a few more photos of the little people I work for, and with (yes, indulge me....)

Twins Alyssa and Qistina...or is that Qistina and Allysa? We've taken to calling them "TWEEEEEENS!" when we need both of them.

Areena ("P Q R S T U V Buddle-U X Y Z!")

Three-year old Khadeja (who apparently is already betrothed....ahem.)

And here are a few more reasons why I love my job:

1. We get to do fun art lessons.

(here's one, teaching kids how to draw straight lines with a ruler)

(a finger-painted tree)

(felt ladybirds on a paper leaf)

(painted paperweight pebble)

2. We learn fun rhymes together.

One little baby

Rocking in a tree

Two little babies

Splashing in the sea

Three little babies

Crawling on the floor

Four little babies
Banging on the door

Five little babies
Playing hide and seek

Keep your eyes closed tight now
Until.. I say .. PEEK!

3. An occasional drama here and there
(and I'm not talking about the bawling kid refusing to get out of
the car,
or the one nose-picking as if there was an undiscovered mine in there somewhere)

(here's Lutfi with 'injuries' after a horrific road accident - that day's lesson was Road Safety)

(Here's Brandon, who came in one day, impersonating Michael Jackson...or is that Stevie Wonder. I wonder...)

4. Colleagues who have become great pals.

This photo of Asmah (Mak Chor, to all of us) was added in because she looks gorgeous here.

(actually I added it in because I found out she secretly reads my blog in the deep of the night behind closed doors....but shhh...don't tell her I told you...and she likely can't read this fine print, heh!)

So the amusement continues...

4 year old takes a colour pencil with the tip broken off.

3 year old exclaims, "hey, that one doesn't have ink lah!"

W is for watermelon.


no, no, watermelon




never mind.


All the time, I had just accepted whatever colouring work they had handed in. After all, it isn't art I am teaching but English. "w" for watermelon y'know? The drawing is just for reinforcing the phonetic sound taught. So as long as their handwriting displayed effort, I accepted their work. Even rewarded them with a sticker.

But after seeing that my beautiful hand-drawn outline of my watermelon had been mutilated, coloured totally brown...

What colour is a watermelon?


and what colour is the skin?


so we're gonna get it right this time, ok?

ok. (grin grin)

what colours are you going to use?

red and green!


slice of watermelon with red skin and green flesh