Changes and Transitions

The problem with having a rather routine task every week is that time flies so fast that by the end of each week I’d wonder what kept me busy, why I was busy at all, and my frequently asked question during every weekend, “What have I accomplished so far?” Sad to say, my frequent answer is, “I actually don’t know”, and sometimes worse, “None.”

Having these questions and answers may therefore just lead to a conclusion that during most part of the week I had another dose of the SSDD syndrome or simply put, boring days.

Luckily, as I reflect on what has happened so far this week, my days haven’t been SSDD at all. In fact, some of the days have been interesting enough that I regret at the thought of not having the 25th hour for me to write about it.

Last Thursday, I attended what seems to be among the best Front Line Managers sessions—despite being the last one. Initially, I responded to this invitation as tentative because for some reason I got the feeling that this session could be like any commencement exercises that are as predictable as clockwork. With this thought in mind, I dragged myself just thinking to make the most out of it and at least end it with a perfect attendance. Little did I know that a couple of minutes after the session started I’d be as attentive as if I was at home watching the Mythbusters on TV.

Team FLM
Ooops, wrong forum. I thought I was attending a trick or treat event.

The invited speaker was a former employee of our company. Beth Arriola was once our HR Manager. Although her name was one of the most familiar during her tenure, it was my first time to listen to her talk. She discussed the difference between change and transition—topic I’ve written several times, without knowing that although being seen as synonymous, both are in fact far different from each other.

To explain the difference between the two, Beth referred to William Bridge’s definition of changes versus transition. Looking at the meanings of these words—with the global recession going on I’m sure that these two are as popular as Obama and McCain—one will see that each has its own essence, and by understanding both will help guide a person to which one he is currently dealing with. The explanation she had on Powerpoint was the simplest yet the clearest I’ve read so far (or I haven’t read that much lately).

Beth
Beth explaining the role of a manager.

Beth made strong points. She advised everyone to have the mindset that there’s life after work—whether one is leaving it after 4 PM or leaving it for good. She also reminded us to keep our external networks connected. And more importantly, encouraged all of us to never let our self-respect and pride (Filipino) down even during this time of uncertainty. Kayang-kaya nga ba kung sama-sama?

 

On my way home that afternoon, I did realized that I’m quite lucky that I changed my mind and attended this final session. Had I skipped this one, another opportunity to learn (both about the subject matter and the speaker) would have been lost. And did I mention already that I got a free book, The Toyota Way, for having attended all the FLM sessions? I can’t wait to claim and read it – I’ll have 365 days to read it next year.

***

Also related to this topic of change are the news that made it to the headlines this week. I’m sure that everyone by now knew that Barack Obama had a historic win over John McCain as the first black American president.

But I’m also sure that not everyone knew about the recent Formula One’s (F1) event, which despite being the last race for this season was nevertheless among the exciting. This race in Brazil had me and wifey sacrifice precious sleep by waking before 1 AM for the live feed on TV and just in time to see the race start after a brief downpour that added the element of excitement – as if the close match between Ferrari and McClaren isn’t enough.

Eventually, Lewis Hamilton grabbed the 2008 driver’s championship title by one point (thanks to Timo Glock or Toyota) over Felipe Massa. And this one is another historic race in F1 as Hamilton being the first black driver to attain the most coveted title in auto racing.

I now wonder, if Michael Jackson’s changing color? My bad, can’t help it. She said anyway that “It don’t [sic] matter if you’re black or white…” Ti abi.

***

Erratum: My editor-in-chief (that’s my wife) said I can’t have a mood rating of 10/10 Honks and be happy – although I argued that the more I honk at other drivers the more I’m pleased. Anyway, to avoid further discussion, I’m now changing it – 1/10 is the highest. 10/10 is the grouchiest. *LOL*

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Fair-Weather Values

Today’s welcoming bright morning sun seems to have little or no help at all to keep the bleak news from coming out of The Philippine Star news- paper into our breakfast table. Today’s headline: US Recession Looms. And what follows in the next articles and pages are just as frustrating if not scary.

“Layoffs spreading across corporate America”,”RP flunks US think tank’s corruption indicator, loses new funds”.

Switching to CNN didn’t help fan out the negativity either. It just brought more stories about people expected to be jobless and horrible stories of starvation and hopelessness in Zimbabwe. These somehow gave me some guilt while we eat breakfast in front of the TV and with me silently counting off another Sunday of being employed. How self-centered can I get when other people faces far more serious problem than I currently have.

Several more minutes of scanning the paper and watching the news, I realized how still lucky I am — to have brewed coffee, fresh hot pan de sal and another perfect omelet courtesy of wifey. I can imagine, during that very same moment, someone in the USA is being evicted out of his hard-earned home for not being able to pay it; some people in Zimbabwe are thinking where they’re going to get potable water in the next few hours or worse, others might even just die trying to find one, literally.

Well that’s just how sad the reality is nowadays. Being jobless is the “IN” thing. Starvation is inevitable. Bankruptcy is as frequent as before. In short, let’s face it, the world is in crisis.

And being in such predicament, I can’t help but wonder if my personal values would remain as is. The dilemma roaming inside my head just can’t be ignored.

Would I still have the same morals?

Would I still continue with my advocacies such as anti-piracy and environmentalism?

Would I still strive to do my best to drive with courtesy in mind?

Would I still continue to use the pedestrian lane?

Would I still refuse to bribe cops and government employees?

These are few questions that have lately come into consideration. Someone said before that during the worse situations our true character comes out. And so with this I will commit that I’m standing by with what I value most. The answer therefore to some of the questions I have will be yes.

Yes, I will continue…

…To respect my parents and elders. I will still be around to look after them. I will call them as often as I can even if that means that I have to stop sending nonsense SMS to friends to save on prepaid load.

…To respect and be courteous and rational in treating cashiers, janitors, saleslady, waiters, drivers and other blue-collared employees who offer their services to me. Who knows, I might be working with them soon.

…To say no to piracy no matter how hard the urge to buy these things in the name of saving (at the expense of other people).

…To be courteous on the road. And avoid, or at least try not to, honking my horn unnecessarily. (This is another topic deserving another blog entry. I can see wifey smiling.)

…To cross the road using the pedestrian lane even if I’m in a hurry for a job interview.

…To reject the temptation to deal with any form of fixers even if this means delaying the start-up of my small business.

Right now it may be easier said than done. But also right now, I’m saying it out loud as my commitment. As much as I hate fair-weather friends, I hate having fair-weather values.

How about you?

We’re Moving Out

I’ve got a very big family and I’ve known our home as the most secure among the neighborhood. It was where we were always proud to be Inside. And like the rest of my siblings, I also look up to our parents and I was ever so proud to be one of their children. But then time changed and it’s been a year or two since our parents have given us the hint that they’re up to something. And what that is, we were clueless then. By the middle of this year though they told us the shocking news–the house we’ve known to have endured storms and earthquakes is crumbling. That shocked us. It can’t be true. The news was like coming out of a very bad nightmare that despite the earlier hint, still caught most of us unguarded.

That being the reason, it surprised us no more when the next thing they told us was their idea to move out of our current home, a home where I’ve spent most of my life with the rest of my brothers and sisters, old and young alike. This is where we learned to crawl, walk and eventually stand up on our own. This is where I learned and understood how to deal with the rest of my siblings in harmony. We’ve had our differences for sure, but we managed to hold on together with the values that have bound us as one family.

Now, since they decided that we finally move out in 6-9 months time and have announced the location of our new home, they have now started orienting each member of our family of the phases that we will undergo to make the transfer a smooth and successful one as much as possible. We were all ears and so eager to hear about it.

Of course, not all of my siblings are happy with the news. Some are excited but most I can sense are not yet prepared. The older ones for sure have lots of memories in this present home and younger ones have still lots of things to prove and experience. But then, mom and dad have made up their mind.

And so after asking the rest of the members what they think of the transfer and if they wanted to move on or not, our parents stood steadfast. Despite the obvious pain they have to deal with, mom and dad have to finally kiss goodbyes to those who have chosen to part ways. But just like any responsible parents will do, they did not forget to partake what they have to those who will be left behind hoping that my brothers and sisters make use of it wisely.

On my part, they haven’t talked to me yet but to keep me busy they have assigned me to do my share in packing up things this week. Some of my siblings have done their share since a month ago. Now it’s my turn. Our home is almost half empty but there’s still a lot to be packed.

Rummaging to what is yet to be boxed, the nostalgia of yesteryears seems to rewind just like in the movies. I can vividly recall the days when mom and dad would give us a new toy and each one of us would gather around it wondering what it was for and but making sure it works at the end of the day. Sometimes we’d argue over it and sometimes we’d work together like we have one mind with one goal. And with each success we made in putting it to work, mom and dad would always clap their hands, give us a pat at the back and more often than not, treat us to a well-deserved meal or even give us some tokens or gifts for the job well done. Those days will be missed. Hopefully, in our next home, they’ll do just the same.

It’s been two days after I started observing and taking charge in the packing of several of our toys with the help of the people whom our parents hired to do it for us. Some of these people are familiar to me as I’ve played with them when I was a bit young in this soon-to-be-our-ex home. Now we still know each other and I’m still as eager to play and help them box the toys.

Tomorrow the packing stops. Just for two days at least. I heard that our parents will be handing out some envelopes to all of us. It’s probably for Christmas. I don’t know. Whatever it is, thanks anyway mom and dad.

Disclaimer: The characters and events in this story are fictitious and if there’s any similarity to actual events, person or entity…then, it must be true…well, partly true.

Death Race: A Film By Filipinos

The other night my beloved wifey and I watched the last full show of the film Death Race (Starring Jason Statham as Jensen Ames) because Wall-E isn’t showing anymore. And while on my way to meet up with her at the mall, I was thinking of the title which by itself is a no brainer. As it implies, I presume that it’s just all about death and race. No more. No less. But wait, there’s more.

The moment the film started rolling, it immediately captured my attention with some of its projected text on the silver screen and with some questions running on my mind along with it.

2012 in America. Will we be there by this time?

Unemployment. Will we be included?

Death. Entertainment?

Race. Will we be watching another live F1 soon? And when?

My wife, as I expected, started giving her naughty remarks (I always know that it is meant to annoy me) while I was starting to sink in to the story. But instead of hushing her, I myself made my own mumbled remarks in agreement. And as if those keywords aren’t enough to keep us related to the opening part of the film with its resemblance to our pending future, the opening scene also shows the main character getting laid off from his job in the metal factory. There’s chaos in the line of workers waiting for their turn to get their last pay. At this point, I was beginning to feel uneasy and I was somewhat praying to get over with the factory scene and show the death race itself.

A few frames more, the factory setting ended, thankfully. I did not mind when the succeeding scenes became tragic with Jensen drugged by someone in a ski mask and eventually becoming unconscious just to wake up with police and their hand guns sticking inches away from his face while trying to make sense what he’s doing with a knife in his hand and his dead wife beside him. Needless to say, that landed him in prison.

His role in Terminal Island became apparent when he was offered to participate in the famous Death Race since his record shows that he was a famous car racer years before. His acceptance of the part will be his way out of the prison facility with the condition that he will win the race. (Sadly, I didn’t catch in the film the reason why he needed the said career and instead endured working inside the hot metal factory).

So just like any sane man offered to race for freedom, Jensen accepted. And this is where I started to enjoy the film. The main death race had several inmates as drivers and with their own armored, gun-mounted, and extra modified cars. Among them of course is Jensen who had to wear a mask in order to pretend as Frankenstein who was actually the famous death racer who perished in the opening scene but without the fans’ knowledge. The race is viewed online by fans numbering in millions with each paying at least $99 per view while the death racers outrun and “outgun” each other.

While I consider this as a B-movie, I actually applaud whoever was behind it. I’m now beginning to imagine that the people who conceptualized this movie are a team composed of Dana White’s men, ex-FIA officials, troubled American school kids, Twisted Metal (PS1 game) programmers and last but not the least – Filipino drivers.

Why? Because I find this movie a mixture of UFC fighters who are driving F1 cars with trigger-happy American school kids handling the Gatling gun’s remote button. Furthermore, the Filipinos here are divided into two sub- teams. First are those drivers who love to mount anything on their jeepneys from horse figures, shiny CDs, LEDs, more LEDS, horns, and unlimited antennas just to name a few–they are the designers of the Death Race cars. The other Filipinos are those who designed the weapon activation systems–-which I wish I’m one of them as sometime, just sometimes (wink wink), I wish I had those buttons inside our Mary.

Surprising as it may seem, I recommend this movie to let out some steam without doing any harm to the stubborn driver in front of you while stuck in traffic. Road rage alert. Watch out for bald male driver fumbling with the cigarette lighter

Here Comes Bum Days

 

Every working day seems to be getting gloomier and gloomier at work but I still exude a positive look to most people—to my colleagues, to my peers. In short, I’m becoming a professional hypocrite. Ti abi. But that’s the way it should be right now. There’s no point in surrendering even if the fight seems worthless and unwinnable.  Sooner or later I’d be a bum but until that time comes I try to be positive. Remember: choose to be happy.

So what have I done so far to soften the impact of the inevitable? I’ve made sure that I equipped myself with bum tools.

  1. Unpaid car. Nice to drive around with. Necessary to eliminate couch rashes.
  2. Books. Lots of it. I think I’d be able to read most of it while in career hibernation. I’d start to worry when I start re-reading my wife’s Archie comics.
  3. Cable TV and Internet subscription. Other than being certified bum tools, both may be my connection to the outside world.  Which reminds me to check the schedule of the TV show Til Debt Do Us Part.
  4. DVDs. Genuine DVDs. Got to have popcorns and beer to go along with these.
  5. A Brother. Yes, a Brother multi-printer. The brother that can help me distribute my resume print outs while on a job hunt.
  6. Rubik’s cube. I don’t know if the recent recession and attrition is the reason this cube puzzle was revived. I’m smelling conspiracy here.

For now these should suffice to keep me occupied for the bum days to come.