Just recently, a dear friend of mine started his new job somewhere closer to home. As excited as I have been for this sweet, helpful boy – I call him a boy because he is much, much younger than me and he has always seen me as a big sister since we first met- I was also a little concerned because he would be working at a different industry. Yes, the position suits him well, but the overall industry is still different.
On his first day, he was excited to share a video of his new office. A very decent place too. In fact, after his interview, he shared only nice stories of how young the whole team was and he felt that he could really do the things he really loved and contribute to the company.
So, during lunch time, he texted me, asking if I was eating alone. Oh, well, yes, I personally do not mind eating with others or on my own. If I don’t have nice companions to go with me, I’d rather go on my own because it’s also a nice time to catch up on my Netflix or to get new ideas to write. Besides, I’ve lived long enough not to be bothered by what people think of me for eating alone.
So, the boy told me he was eating alone at a mamak stall because he was the only Malay working at his department and the others went to a non-halal place to eat. Before you think that I’m some kind of a racist who thinks that we Malays just looove our Bumiputra privileges so much, then you don’t know Ms. Paris! I just didn’t think it was a very nice way of welcoming a new addition to any organisation by letting him or her eat alone on the first day. ON THE BLOODY FIRST DAY! How was that healthy?
Just to share some of my first days throughout my career, I’ve worked at a few organisations. I even received a job offer before my graduation. While I don’t have the impressive paper qualification, I compensate with my cheerful personality and hardworking nature. Too bad if some people find me outspoken and unnecessarily voicing out my concerns from time to time because I hate being bullied or having to clean up others’ mess when we have clearly delegated the tasks.
A couple of years after my graduation, I received an offer to work at a publishing house that was predominantly hiring Chinese. In fact, my desk partner was a Chinese guy who was Chinese-educated and spoke with a cute Manglish accent. We had a fun and healthy working relationship. In fact, during my first day, I remember my team taking me to a halal eating place and even showing me around for other options later should they want to go to a non-halal eateries sometimes, so I knew where to go. I truly appreciate their effort that even when I decided to leave the company, I stayed in touch with some of them. In fact, I still bump into my desk partner from time to time and we’d hug openly and chat.
In fact, not too long ago, when I was working for another Chinese company – well, considering the size of that company- I could always rotate my Lunch Buddy schedule. Sometimes with the Chinese group, especially when we wanted to eat Chinese cuisine like dimsum or noodles. I also had the Malay group when we wanted to eat Malay cuisine. In fact, most of the time, we went out in our colourful, 1Malaysia group – everybody was there, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Chinese-speaking Malay and Indian, Sekolah Kebangsaan-going Chinese and Indian, the ‘Cina murtad’ and whatever.
Oh, yes, the ‘Cina murtad’ is not a derogatory term in our book. It simply means, Chinese who are more Malay than Chinese – they usually speak fluent Malay and bad Mandarin and prefer to eat masak lemak or rendang compared to dimsum or stinky tofu.
So, I’m really sorry that my friend had to go through his first day at work eating alone. I really am. It must have been quite a surprising experience that he texted me and asked me to tell him that he didn’t make a mistake and he would be okay. Naturally, I told him, it was just a phase and that he would be more than fine. I personally know that he will make changes to that organisation and contribute in ways others haven’t.
But I personally don’t think it is okay for a newbie to get that sort of treatment, not especially on the first day. I believe it’s good when an organisation welcomes newbies warmly so it creates a nice first impression and encourages the newbies to treat the next group of newbies better. Remember, monkey see, monkey do. So, if you want to create a healthy working environment, you need to lead by good examples.
Then again, who am I to comment? I don’t work in HR!
Read this article in Bahasa Melayu HERE!
p/s- Share your thoughts on this, peeps!