“Bullsh*t!” stormed Hisham. “It’s not worth it. No amount of money is worth this crap!” he cried as he slammed a stack of files on his table.
I then spent the next 10 minutes listening to him rant about how much his boss was stressing him out. Hisham’s diatribe got so vitriolic that he began stressing me out, too; nothing that a few cycles of karate-breathing couldn’t handle, though. When he was done, he stormed out of the office, none too pleased that he was unable to solicit the expected response – whatever that might have been – from me. It wasn’t that I did not empathise with him. I did. But at that point, there was nothing I could have said to him that would have done any good. So, what was the point?
Stressed? Really? Let’s think about this for a moment. Two things come to mind: Either he lacks the competence for the job, or he feels that his workload is not commensurate to his compensation package. Of course, there’s no of finding out which one is the culprit, at least, not without offending him. So I sat there and continued my karate-breathing while waiting for him to cool-off and come back.
“It’s really not worth it. No matter how you look at it” Hisham tried to explain when he finally returned to his desk. He was obviously much calmer than he had been 10 minutes ago. “I mean, there’s only so much a person can do. I’m not Superman. I’ve never made myself out to be one” he continued.
“All we can do is our best, Hisham. Beyond that…” I offered.
“Try explaining that to the fire-breathing dragon in there” said Hisham, referring to his boss.
Finally, we managed to get down to business. When I left Hsham, I could not help but think that perhaps he was over-reacting to the demands made by his fire-breathing dragon. After all, I do know he is getting paid well over RM10K a month. So, what was his problem? For that kind of money, my boss could be slinging abuses at me until Singapore actually treated Malaysia like a sovereign state and I wouldn’t be any worse for the privilege.
If I sound judgemental, then it’s probably because I am being judgemental. I guess for Hisham, the pain of the stress is just more than the pleasure of receiving over RM10K every month. I guess we come from two very different places. And to be fair, this doesn’t make him worse than me; only different.
Not too long ago, if someone had given me RM10, my first question would have been: “Who do I have to kill?” And I meant that quite literally! Things were that bad at the time. I guess the pain of being poor still registers too vividly in my mind. Being poor is still worse than being verbally abused or stressed-out.
But of course, my going price isn’t RM10 anymore.