Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Secret of Balance

It was a busy day at the office. The in tray was full. The out tray was full. A mysterious person, who could be identified only by the spiky black hair visible above the stack of paper, came every half hour to empty the out tray. Who knew where to. The recycling bin in the back alley, probably.

From in tray to out tray, out tray to alley. (Or at least it seemed that's where my life was going)

I reached for another sheet from the in tray. Paused. The in tray was no longer there.

I looked around. I realised it was I who was no longer there. I mean, at my desk at work. I was now sitting behind a table about the same size, but instead of a partition board with cute animal photos all over it, on the other side sat a jolly little man wearing a hat that looked like it was made out of a paper bag.

Welcome!
"Welcome to Felicitous Fortunes! Good fortune or your money back. What can I predict for you today?"

I stared in shock, wondering what would happen back at work when the spiky-haired person came and found the out tray, for once, empty.

"Cat got your tongue? OK then, how's this? Have you heard the one about the guru who owned a hot dog stand?"

Silence from me.

"Come on, come on, it's a good one! Guess what the customer says to the guru! Guess right and I'll throw in a free 'good luck in the workplace' figurine." He gestured towards a shelf on the other end of the room, stacks of boxes with words like "Love Life Booster", "Prosperous Business Money Plenty" and "Every RM1 coin Received in Change From Coffee Shops Sure Authentic, 100% Guarantee Accepted by Banks" on them.

Silence. Then, at the sight of his fat, complacent, happy little face, something in me snapped.

I don't want your figurines. I don't want your fortunes. I just want to go back to work, to a job I actually enjoy, yes, that's right, enjoy, so I can do my work and after that go home and work on my other projects, and when I'm done with that I can spend about 5 minutes with my family before I go back to work overtime. And don't you, little fat man in paper bag hat, dare ask me why I must do so much.

"Why do you feel you have to do so much?"

That was it. It must have been the stress, because of course I'm not usually a hitting kind of person. The little fat jolly man was too heavy to make it across the room, but his paper bag hat made it.

And then...
Seconds later, I found myself back at my desk. No need to even say 'There's no place like office, there's no place like office...'

In retrospect, I really wish I hadn't hit him. Because the fat man did have a point: I do feel compelled to do more than I need to, and it's making me so edgy that I can't even take a joke from a jolly commercial clairvoyant. From that day on, I resolved to keep my work and outside commitments, relationships with humans and God in the proper balance (in increasing order of importance).

The moral of the story?
If you want to have some balance in your life, it's best to strike a happy medium.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.

No mediums were harmed in the writing of this story.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Comrades for the Overthrow of the Packaging Proletariat

A few weeks back, in a moment of foolish weakness, I succumbed to the pretty packaging of a certain brand of biscuits bearing a copyrighted Japanese cartoon image (and her bunny and strawberry friends).

Thanks to the professional pictures on the box, I also believed that the biscuits would be of equal quality, munchy-wise, to another brand I shall henceforth remain loyal to. The latter's biscuits are offered in more flavours and embellished with proprietary panda images, which I find just as pleasing to the eye. Why not please both eye and palate at the same time, rather than the following scenario which happened when I tried to eat the biscuits pictured above?

Me: (Opens box and tears open foil package within)
Good, Brainy Voice (see earlier post on the purchase of these things): Now we'll see who's right.
Me: (Pops biscuit in mouth)
Tongue: Whoa momma! What is this stuff?
Teeth: Can anyone say "lao hong" (Hokkien for "leaked air", ie gone soft)?
Tongue: Has my job function changed? Because I sure feel like a trash can!
Stomach: Hey, watch your mouth. You think you have a lousy job, you come and talk to me.
Intestines: !
Stomach: You guts don't even think of saying anything!
GBV: Heh, heh (in complacent tone)
Eyes: At least they're good to look at.
Other body parts: Choi! Who's talking to you?
Me: Sigh. What's it take to get a decent cartoon-decorated cream-filled biscuit these days?
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