I recently moved into a new office of a new company. I was pretty much one of the youngest there, and moving in with a small box filled with my personal items (my box of teas, a stapler I stole from the common office desk etc) made me feel exactly how I felt when I first started working after I graduated from college. After going through this twice, and listening to my friends’ experiences on adjusting in a new workplace, I’ve noted some do’s and don’ts that one should probably practice to survive those first few weeks.
1. Nobody likes near-suicidal sad people. Yes, yes, I get the whole ‘be yourself’ thing, but there is such a thing as being yourself and restraining some parts of you for later surprises, not now. No matter how bad the day gets, never walk into a new office looking like you’re a pill-bottle away from depression. If you’re going to spend many years of your life sitting in that office, you might want to make a few friends, and nobody wants to be friends with a person who looks like they might have mutilated dead bodies stashed in the closet.
2. Observe the culture, and try and roll with it. This new office seems to revolve around one thing – coffee. Everybody takes coffee in the morning, there are two coffee machines and hardly any tea, and pretty much every room smells caffeine-dosed. The problem is I am not a fan of coffee. I am coffee intolerant in the mornings (it gives me stomach aches and I don’t know why), but I tried giving it a shot post-lunch, and hey, it’s really not that bad.
3. Be nice to the ladies. Female colleagues will be either a God-sent or a night mare. It all depends on how you are perceived by them. If you’re annoying, chances are you’ll never get any invites to anything, and you’ll miss out on special office vouchers too. You’ll never know juicy office gossips like who’s divorced and who’s being deported to Venezuela, and let’s face it, aren’t those news the things you look forward to in order to enlighten your otherwise mundane office life?
4. Know your audience. It is kind of vital to measure yourself up with the rest of your new colleagues. The majority of the workers in my new office are experienced, seasoned staff, so I found that I had to catch up with things faster compared to my old office, where most of us are junior staff like me. I also found that certain jokes and subjects of interest are not particularly appealing depending on different crowds of colleagues. On my second day, I found myself trapped in a group conversation where one guy was venting about getting a divorce after being separated for twelve years. I felt like a teenager. All I did was nod and talk about my dead cat.
The thing is, adapting is necessary. Sometimes people may not be your type, and a place may not be your style. But by adapting, it’s a way to show that you’re giving it a shot. And doing that is never a waste of time.
Apparently there was a meteor shower last night. I read this on Facebook right before bedtime. I got up and looked out my window, but the city skies are a bit too bright and polluted to see anything.
On Wednesday, 18th November 1998, my parents woke us up at 3 in the morning to see a meteor shower. My Mother is a science teacher, and she has always been very enthusiastic about these things. I think she secretly had a fantasy of turning me into a mad-scientist when I was younger (well, I didn’t steer too far off from her plans, did I? Haha). Once, she brought home a cow's eyeball which she got at the market, just to teach me the anatomy of an eyeball. I can't possibly forget how a natural eye lense looks like now. Anyway, for the meteor shower, she did her research, and found out exactly when it was going to strike. I remembered her waking us up and shoo-ing us out of the house.
At 3 am in a suburban area, the houses are almost dead. There was silence except for the crickets. My Mother had already laid a mat on the lawn, a small strip of grass inside the home gate. There was a thermos of coffee, too, and I think that was meant for my Father. My Father is not at all a science fan. I don’t think he would’ve even bothered waking up to see a meteor shower, if not for the concern he had of everyone being out of the house so late at night.
The sky was dark, but it was so clear you could see every vivid dots of light across it. We were miles away from the nearest city, so there were no tall skyscrapers to obstruct our views, and no high-tech lights to ruin the darkness of the night. It was just a clear, wide carpet of starry sky. I lay down on the mat, desperately trying to not go to sleep.
Then there it was.
A sudden strike of thin, long light. I missed it by a few seconds because my eyes weren’t wandering enough. Then came another. This time I saw it all. Then another. They were swift, elongated motions across the sky, a tail of yellow light that disappeared even before you had the chance to stare at it. I remembered hearing my Mother gasp in awe. I think my Father was secretly impressed too.
It didn’t last long. Soon, they disappeared completely even when we stayed there for another fifteen minutes in case the meteor shower would happen again. But it didn’t. It was over. I’d probably never see it again for years, if not ever.
The thing is, it was only a moment that was just a fraction of my lifetime but I can still recall the details vividly in my head right now. How sleepy I felt before. How amazed I was after. The color of the mat. Those annoying crickets. I don’t really look at the night sky the same way anymore. It would later occur to me that this was a prime example of how moments in life are defined. It could be the simplest of things, but if they are significant, it will stay with you forever.