Monday, September 29, 2008

First Day at Work Again

Today marks the first surreal day of work in my previous company (the one I've been in the last 4+ years, the one I was in before I left for my two month stint elsewhere). They couldn't give me back my old ID, so there's this general bad feeling all around that I could end up having to take *all* the training courses again. Yes, even the absolutely mindbogglingly boring ones. Yes, even the ones where I need to travel to a building far far away and sit in a room and listen to someone who really shouldn't be teaching conduct classes. New ID, bye bye seniority. The kid whom I used to pwn... can now pwn me with his years of service (right now I only have day of service).

So the first thing to do was to go make my access card. Everyone knows that without access cards, going to the toilet will be at the mercy of whoever's willing to lend you his / her access card. There are few - everyone's afraid of you dropping their card into the urinal or worse, the toilet bowl just after you're done with your business in the old shithouse. This fact landed me at security at slightly past 8am. The lady there was all mumbling and half-asleep (high?). She couldn't speak English, and half the time I didn't know what her strange Malay dialect meant. It was all very confusing. I ended up leaving after she directed me to some HR lady. At 8 something in the morning, "call so-and-so at HR" is just another diversion.

It turned out later that the nice HR lady handling my return had gone through all the trouble to retrieve my access cards (the new one and the extremely old one which had chipped off) from the company's artifact vault in the US. It had been enshrined in some reliquary after I left, but since I was back, she justified that I and only I had the actual right to those artifacts. And thus, they were flown all the way back to Malaysia, and delivered to me later in the day. I must admit that I'm glad to get those cards back. The idea that anything I've used is being kept under lock and key beside other artifacts of great power is strangely disturbing.

My old cubicle is lost, of course. Horrible timing in my two-month company meant I reached back a whole month late. So they gave me a new cubicle (or quarter-cubicle, as cubicles are known in this company). It was filthy. Dust covered the surface of everything like it was trendy to be dusty. There were stickers pasted all over the place. Stickers, from a time when some shortsighted freak somewhere in the company thought that giving people company stickers would boost their morale. Fool, you give people money to boost morale! Money, sex and power! Even I know that.

Anyway, I sought out the cool-looking janitor who looks like Johnny Depp in "From Hell". He was nice enough to rummage through a huge sack of cleaning cloths to locate the lemon-flavoured cleaning fluids. And that was how I spent the morning, scrubbing away at everything diligently and removing the stickers with a vengeance. In a fit of red anger, I also decided to throw away everything in the cupboards and the drawers. I even donated some of the more valuable-looking stuff to other people. So sue me. I left, they gave away my cubicle. Whoever who left my new cubicle, I'm giving / throwing away your stuff too. I did contemplate bribing / threatening to murder the family of the new guy in my cubicle. But after seeing how that area has gelled together, I decided against it. If I moved him out now, they'll see me as the interloper (especially with my n00b ID and my day of service record). I'll probably stay in my recently-cleaned cubicle in the meantime. At least I'll have a Very Good View of any pretty girl who's visiting the office secretary.

My job scope's already been defined. I'm sure my face turned green when I got the manager I would be working with briefed me about it. I'm sure it stayed green throughout the day, especially when the manager of managers came to brief me about it again. And my new manager dropped by with his complimentary frown. It's all very nice, but once again, I see impending doom on the horizon.

My colleagues were all very nice, warm, welcoming. Although I sensed that they were all a little muted. Downtoned. Granted, it's probably because most of them had already buggered back to their hometown for the Raya holidays. The office's usually quiet when only a few are around. Or it could be because of the rain. The extremely heavy rain. You know, for two months in my previous company, there was no rain interference at all when I went to and fro the carpark. Yes, it would rain in the afternoon, but not when I wanted to go to or come from my car. Today, however, it poured. What kind of sign is that!?

Hooking up with the colleagues I'm close to was more fun. I had souvenirs from them - something shiny - which I don't think the wife approves of. But they're good people, and I really wanted to get them stuff. Which I did. Only that some of them didn't bother showing up for work - I guess those will have to wait. But, after the horror that was cleaning up my cubicle, I settled down, started installing stuff, started talking to people again.

...and I realized just how normal it felt. How like I've never left. I go to the toilet for the familiar feeling of peeing and warming myself up. When I walk along the corridor I watch the floor diligently for water so that I don't slip. And there's a total dearth of hot chicks. At the same time, I feel like I could wake up any moment and find out I'm still in the previous company. No, I don't really miss my ex-colleagues save one fellow who turned out to be a really standup chap. But I do miss the endorphin-inducing pretty girls. Damn it.

So there we are with my first day of work. Is this all a dream? Is this a mistake I shouldn't have made? Is this what's meant to be? Horror of horrors, time will tell.

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