Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yesterday, the blacklist was released at work. For weeks, rumors had been circulating about who's on the list and when it would be released. Only upper management knew the true contents of the list. With the blacklist taking effect today, the office definitely felt emptier than usual. The reality of layoffs have slowly began to take hold.

The last 24-48 hours have been kind of a downer because I was pretty close to two of these coworkers that were laid off. They were people who I interacted with on a daily basis. They spoke English and they had done a lot to help and look out for me. I had been working with them since the first day I arrived in China. We had a farewell dinner for the both of them last night.

When I heard the news, I didn't know what to say. How do you comfort someone in a position like that? Can you really tell them that everything will be fine when the economy is going to hell? Imagine working in another country and then suddenly being laid off. With housing provided by the company, they've probably got a couple days left before she having to move out. My fellow project manager's last day of work was spent de-authorizing system accounts and clearing her laptop of sensitive material.  All these extra hassles sound like insult to injury.

The really odd thing is that part of me wishes that I was laid off. I thought about how "convenient" it would be to be laid off; I'd be able to head home for good without feeling like a quitter. It's not that hate my job, but it's not like I love my job either. It's really a love/hate relationship and I understand that I need to give it some more time before making any judgements. Wanting to leave probably sounds crazy given how unstable the job market is in this economic recession.

The scary thing about all this is that I'm not out of the woods yet; this is just the beginning. Rumors have already begun circulating of a second round of layoffs after Chinese New Year. Honestly though, all I can do is put out my best effort. No point in getting worked up over things I can't control. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

And so the countdown begins. In ten days, I'll be on an airplane headed for Los Angeles, California, US of A.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The highs from giving a presentation couldn't have died any quicker.  I came into work today feeling just about as bored and lost as I when I first arrived in China.  It was back to sitting in front of the computer catching up on Google News and reading random Wikipedia articles.  It's funny how quickly things can change.

I've always been the type that required lots of stimulation.  Take my my senior year of college as a case in point.  During that year, I had about a half dozen part time jobs and I was working over 40 hours a week:
  • Tutoring at the Residence Halls
  • Supervising the math tutoring program at the Residence Halls
  • Tutoring at the Student Learning Center
  • Teaching a bi-weekly study group
  • TA for a undergraduate physics lab class
  • Photographing for the Daily Californian
  • Private Tutoring
And that was all in addition to my regular courseload and other student group obligations.  I was busy nearly every moment of the day and I'd often get home at about 10 or 11 PM.  Google Calendar was my life saver that year.  Somehow though, I was able to juggle all of those responsibilities.  But it was more than that becauase I actually enjoyed having too much on my plate.  In fact, I thrive off that kind of pressure.  I just crave that kind of stimulation.

It's funny because I was talking with my father and he mentioned that I have always been like that.  Even when I little kid, once I had figured out a toy, I'd get bored of it quickly.  I'd have playdates all the time because I prefer playing with other kids than by myself.  Growing up, my parents were always taking me basketball practices/games, golf camp, art classes, etc.  I never realized that I've always had that in me.

The question for me now is: How do I get motivated/stimulated at work?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"The next step in the process flow is chemical strengthening.  It's used to greatly increase the flexibility and hardness of glass."

"Psst, Alan.  A bunch of inaudible Chinese words I can't understand."


"Oh, can you introduce the other PowerPoints for me while you're at it?"

"Uhh ... sure, I guess."

And that's how my one hour presentation turned into chairing the entire four hour meeting.  Originally, I only supposed to present a general overview of the organization and lead the factory tour.  But I ended up with the whole enchilada, having to make an additional three PowerPoint presentations.

Overall, I managed to pull it off, mainly because I reviewed and fine-tuned every one of those presentation PowerPoint and Excel files.  (That's what happens when you're the native English speaker.  It's your job to correct bad grammar, awkward phrasing, and misspelled words.)  Being the PowerPoint repairman, I had a basic understanding of the presentations and I managed to sound somewhat knowledgeable.  It would have been helpful if they asked me earlier so I could have actually prepared.  In any case, even if it wasn't my best performance, it was definitely decent.

The sad thing was that my boss didn't show up.  I had been busting my ass all week to do a really bang up job and he wasn't even there to see it.  But my boss's boss was there and I think he was impressed.  He had a few minor suggestions for me, but overall he was happy with how it went.  Hopefully, my boss will hear all about it.  There's room for improvement, but I guess I'm satisfied.  I've only been with the company 5 months; I can't really expect too much.

The best part was the dinner!  Gotta treat the customers to dinner, ya know?  And guess who gets to tag along: Me!  It was a delicious Western-style steak dinner.  And it was free! (well kind of anyway.)  The price I paid was having to make lots of small talk.  When you're the only native English speaker, you're expected to chat it up with customers.  I ended up just asking a lot of questions that revolve around themselves, their family, and their home.  People love talking about that kind of stuff.

After dropping them off at the hotel, I ended up getting home at 11:30 P.M.  Exhausted, I immediately went to bed.