In the wake of the current oil price plummet, everybody is starting to get restless. This case is evident when you see the faces that turn up at the office everyday. There is a strange forlorn dark cloud that seems to follow everyone, and behind the usual work routines there is an obvious unease that can no longer be subdued. People started talking about ‘alternatives’. Some have that paranoid look in their eyes, making sure that everyone joins the wagon by constantly spreading rumours on what might become of our fates. Eventually these possibilities became exhausting to hear.
I have never thought that work could cause me this much anxiety. I enjoy my job, but have always found it easy to detach from its issues the minute I leave the office. My job takes me on wonderful work adventures, pays my bills, allows me to live the life the way I want, and some of my colleagues are friends and exes. In other words, my job is a great enabler for other things in my life. And thus, when the sense of security of having this job is being shaken, everything else shudders with it in a frightened might.
As a self-professed pro in the department of Anxiety and Overthinking, I started harvesting obsessive thoughts immediately after someone mentioned the word ‘retrenchment’. That night I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I started weighing my options, visualising a worse-case scenario, and then reliving them again in my head.
Employment and unemployment is a common theme anywhere you are in the world. In movies you see people happily quitting their jobs or getting fired with such dramatic exits and not much of a forethought of a future strategy, some of them being a hilarious feat to watch. But in reality it is nerve-wrecking experience, one that would flip the tables and change the course of our lives altogether. Some of us have mortgages, children to feed, parents to take care of, loans to pay and even rely on jobs to give us a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. A job may not be our livelihood, but it certainly is a catalyst that allows us to have and enjoy one, whatever that may be. And so as I, and many of us in the hydrocarbon industry brace ourselves for what may or may not happen in the near future, I hope that we'll make it through and be okay. It is a scary thought, but word on the street is that life? It scares us sometimes.
It is an unwritten cliché that a lot of singletons like to spend their time exercising. You know, just in case Jake Gyllenhaal show up at my front door one day. I mean, I’ve got to be prepared to look my best. It was a normal workday and I had decided to ditch my usual exercise routines and opt for something a little different. I heard that the nearby gym has fun classes you could join, and statistics always show that following a group workout makes the exercise more effective.
A class that sounded intriguing to me was a particular studio session called ‘Shbam’. I’m not even quite sure how to pronounce it really. The poster showed two ladies having the time of their lives strutting a move in awesome yoga pants, so I figured I would give it a shot. So off I went, high spirited to join an exercise routine that will surely give me lean legs like Jessica Alba.
The exercise started rather normally. The instructor was a flamboyant man in his twenties, and he had a microphone attached to an earpiece. The music was loud and funky. Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ started playing. The instructor told us to move around like he was. I followed suit. “You can do it!” He started yelling at the microphone.
“Oh yes! Oh yes!” He went at it again. At this point I started giggling a little because I always find words of affirmation from personal trainers to be somewhat of a script by a programmed robot. They are designed to tell you that “You’re doing great!!” or “Those hips are shrinking already!!” The music got more upbeat and louder.
“Yes, ladies!” He shouted again. “You’re single! You’re single and ready to mingle!”
Yes, I’m… wait. What?
I looked around. The studio was definitely filled with just women, alright. Women of all shapes and sizes, twenties, thirties and forties. I certainly didn’t think that we were all single, especially not the aunties with wedding bands. The instructor went at it again. “Oh yes you’re single! And you’re ready to mingle!”
As I was trying hard to coordinate my arms and legs into a rotating motion, I couldn’t help myself from bursting into a fit of laughter. I was pretty sure the lady next to me was giggling too. It was deeply amusing, finding myself trying to get a good workout with an instructor who seemed determined to remind his audience that they’re single. When you think about it, he probably would never say stuff like “Oh yes you’re a Mama! You’re a Mama and you’re ready to lose that baby gut!” Frankly, I was also a little embarrassed with all that shouting with the microphone. The guys outside who were doing weights and glancing at us were probably secretly glad that they didn’t join this insanely uplifting don’t-you-forget-that-you’re-single exercise routine.
Needless to say, that was the first and last time I ever joined the bloody ‘Shbam’ class. If I needed to sweat while having someone yell that I'm single in my ear, I would just attend a Malay wedding.