Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Phone Call of Salvation

The clock read 11:39am and she was uncharacteristically restless as she stared at the bright white monitor in front of her. Words like ‘Integrated Financial Portal’, ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ and ‘Services Oriented Architecture’ start to blur and whirl in front of her eyes while the blinking line on her word document mocked her repeatedly, waiting for her to type out yet another word which would invariably lead to the creation of several sentences and then a paragraph and then another and another which would finally result in one of her boring documents that would be read in the papers in about two weeks time.

It’s at times like this that she wonders about her choice of profession and if this is really right for her. The telephone rings and she listens to the voice ramble on while she flips stoically through the pile of documents that have accumulated seemingly overnight on her already overflowing desk. She pushes aside several documents distractedly and realizes that the person on the line is requesting once more for her email address. That would make it a grand total of seven this morning she thinks to herself and wishes that more interesting people would ask for her email address rather than people who needed her company’s money. As it is her job and she is the gatekeeper of the sponsorship money, she repeats her rather long email address to the man whose name and organization she has already forgotten and cringes when he makes her repeat her email address over and over again.

“Its P and M. P for Penang . M for Malaysia ,” she says twice for the benefit of the man on the end of the line. “NO! Not B. its P. P for Penang , Perak and Pahang,” she adds for emphasis when the man fails to hear her correctly. “NO! NO! NO! Not D. It’s P. P for Penang ! Penang ! Penang !” She exhales loudly out of frustration and annoyance at the deafness of the man and inhales two deep breaths and begins again. “Its P and M. P for Penang . M for Malaysia . Got it?” He mumbles that he will email her the sponsorship letter and promptly hangs up. A string of grumbles that the common mind would not be able to discern flows from her lips and several of her colleagues look up from their workstations and grin at her sympathetically for she gets calls like this pretty often. She wishes not for the firs time that she could also get more interesting calls instead of boring work ones.

Another 29 minutes till lunch time she muses while glancing at the little numbers on the bottom right corner of her monitor. She clicks into her inbox, professionally ignoring the word document that remains disturbingly unfinished and clicks on several new emails she has received over the past few minutes and laughs rather manically when she reads that she has been nominated by the head honcho a.k.a Big Boss to attend a BM professional writing class for three miserable days. Dread plagues her heart and she shudders involuntarily as she imagines the three devastating days ahead of her.

She can’t remember the last time she wrote in her national language and tries to string a sentence together out loud. Her attempt at knitting a sentence catches the ears of a colleague sitting nearby and a chuckle escapes his lips. She reaches for the nearest object, ah a stapler. She grips the blue and silver object and calmly tells herself that she should not throw it at the annoying chuckler for fear of hitting someone else in the process. “I am sorry but were you speaking in BM or some kind of alien language” he asks in a voice that provokes her to seriously consider throwing the stapler at him. Too weary to reply she just glares at him and then stares back at her computer screen, only two miserable minutes have passed. She sighs inwardly and wishes that time would just fly by now so that she can waltz all the way to Kinokuniya and be amongst her hard covered and paperback friends.

The hi-fi which is located behind her takes the opportune moment to spew the theme song to Greys Anatomy and her thoughts whir to a collage of different scenes that brings up unwanted emotions. She shrugs them off and gets up from her seat to turn off the hi-fi which she knows will belt out more sappy loves. SNAP. Silence once more punctuated by the tap tapping of the keyboard and clicks of the mouse. Seeing as there are several minutes more to go to midday salvation, she half heartedly goes through the pile of documents on her right and realizes that she does have quite a bit of work to do. Feeling a mixture of panic at the prospect of not being able to meet deadlines and yet a feeling of nonchalance, she decides to make a list of the things that needs to be done.

Grabbing several sheets of recycled A4 paper, her trusty purple mechanical pencil and her plastic bendy ruler, she makes a clearing on her cluttered desk and draws several lines on the crisp whiteness. She stops and surveys her handiwork. “Crap”, she says out loud as she realizes that the lines are all slightly crooked saved for the first line which is perfectly straight. She takes her rather mangy eraser and erases the awful lines. The marks though don’t come off and leave faint indents on the pristine whiteness. “Crap”, she says for the second time and snatches the tainted page and crumples it in her fist and promptly tosses the crumples ball into the black Ikea dustbin underneath her desk.

Her frustration mounts as she realizes that she has still not perfected the art of drawing straight lines with a ruler. Another one of her defects that she can’t seem to overcome. Once more time, she thinks to herself. I will try just one more time… So she picks up another recycled A4 paper, her trusty purple mechanical pencil and her plastic bendy ruler and draws several lines but they look identical to her first attempt, perhaps even a little bit more crooked than before. The phone shrills again and she picks up the phone. The voice on the other end of the line brings salvation. “Lunchtime meet you downstairs, k?” “OK!” she choruses and hastily keeps her stationary and places the recycled paper back into the recycled tray. Salvation in the form of a phone call has never been sweeter

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