The economy is in doldrums and many companies are cutting back. Bee’s office has issued a travel ban for internal meetings and trainings. Her colleagues who were due for a KL training was told to take a bus. This, after an expat colleague was abruptly retrenched and sent home, has left her feeling in despair. Every time we meet for lunch, she would pour out her grouses about how things are running in the company. Despite all this, she has no wish to leave, but will ‘tong’ (tolerate) until they decide to retrench her.
Last week at lunch, another friend was also complaining. Her boss’s wife interferes constantly in her work, writing long emails demanding this and that. My friend is frustrated but is at wit’s ends. It’s as though the boss’s wife is trying to drive her out of the company, even though my friend has worked in that company for two decades. I told her to just look for another job. Why succumb herself to all these torments. Another friend with us disagreed and told her instead that she must ‘tong’ until they retrench her. ‘Don’t give them the satisfaction by resigning,’ she urged.
I left the corporate and working world long ago, perhaps too long to understand how anyone is willing to subject herself to these mental torture just for that ‘retrenchment’ benefits, which may or may not materialise. Then I remember back in ICI, a close friend was just as frustrated at her job and after a long contemplation, decided to resign. This was just after the Asian crisis and many of us were multitasking, trying to show the British that Asia was doing well. The moment my friend tendered her resignation, ICI announced that it was closing down its PMMA business and all remaining employees, me included, and she too if she hadn’t resigned, would receive their retrenchment package. My friend had to serve out her three months notice, and so did those of us who were retrenched. But we got our package and she got nothing. She was of course very upset that her boss did not forewarn her about the closure.
If I were in the same situation, what would I do? ‘Tong’ or leave? Perhaps it’s better to work with the devil you know than risk another you don’t.