Thursday, July 22, 2004

a world of insensitivity

some people in this world travel or pass through life with very little care for the other person. they look out for "number one." they are the ones that bump into you and don't say "sorry." for them, you were walking in their space. but there are more personal encounters with the "indifferent" and the "insensitive." some we meet in the office and some we meet in our school.

let me recount today's insensitive world. the highest official in my office met with me today to lay down some standard operating procedures (SOPs). i had already begun my filing system on the orders of my boss. this official was not my boss but he treats me like his subject. he called me into his office and made me sit down. i carefully took out my notebook and pen to take down notes. but more of that later. as soon as i sat down, he looked for his schedule. i had printed it out the day before. he screamed like an angry little child pining after his lollilop, "why is it not on my desk?!" as i handed him the schedule, he carefully looked at it and asked, "where is this and that?! why isn't this included?!" i also carefully explained that i didn't know which meetings he was attending because the schedules were not forwarded to me and i was not privy to any communication indicating he would attend such a meeting.

so, began the one-hour ordeal of incoming communications, the fax log, the weekly schedules and the layout of my desk. he looked at incoming communications and ripped out pages which he thought didn't belong, often looking at my pile of notes and removing "unnecessary" paper, crumpling it and dumping it into an imaginary garbage can behind his chair. (i had to pick this up, of course.) i was nervous with panic and i didn't know how to react to such a childish attitude. this was the first time i had seen this type of person, inconsiderate of feelings of others and holding himself higher by his condescension. i had met egoists before but not to this extent and they were egoists with a modicum of sensitivity left in them. so, as he threw papers and grabbed at my pile, he also told me to stop taking notes because in his words, "you don't even need to take down notes! you just have to remember." as mindful as i am, i am not omniscient or claim to be, i can't possible remember and know everything when i am told. so i asked him, "will you give me the note that you're making then?" he says, "it's for me." of course, he has the right to take down notes and i should just "remember."

that meeting was filled with more question and answer portions that was incoherent and often redundant on his part. he would tug at the file again and ask, "what is this? it shouldn't even be here." he told me to put it away. then a few minutes later  he would ask, "bring the file to me." it was just five feet away.

during this time, i also had to fulfill my duties to the office as the secretary. i had to answer phone calls often running out of his room and taking down notes and transferring calls.

i would then come back to the hell-hole which i was only to emerge shocked and in utter disbelief that another human being could act in such a manner. where is the "love thy neighbor" that is taught to him when he goes to church? (i first conversed with him en route to bern to see the pope.) it falls on deaf ears with him.

after dictating his SOPs to my ears, which i can't claim to be as trustworthy as a pen and paper, it ended with him ravaging my bookshelf and telling me to fix it. it wasn't really my bookshelf and files had been put into it before i came to that office. i had gone to the bathroom to relieve myself not just from the liquid that was filling my bladder but from the venom that was slowly poisoning my veins. he was about to leave and called out to me, "please remove the directories from your desk." these were directories placed on my desk for easy access for all staff members.

i was in a limbo because i was being ordered by someone who was not my boss but is the highest official in the office. my boss had just come after the ill-fated meeting with this official and he tried to console me by saying to "let it in one ear and let it out the other."

i couldn't meet the demands of the official especially because the office was lacking in resources. resources that was not his to dispense with. as a backgrounder, he has his own budget for his expenses while the office has its own for its use too. the official belonged to a different agency from ours but was considered the overall "head" of the mission.

i would have to tender a resignation in order to stop this ill treatment, my boss said. we would "play" it out for the official since his attitude was not becoming. i don't know how this would "play out." i am thankful though that my boss was kind enough to say, "you should go home now" as i had over-worked my hours again following yesterday's "unpaid" overtime to meet with the office and the official. i took notes then on his orders too.

so, having been spoken down to and questioned for my organizational skills, i was nothing but a subject. a subject which can be ordered and "abused."

at that point in time, i didn't know how to react. i knew it was wrong but i was also fearful of the repercussions. i didn't want to lose my job. (it's hard when you're not in a position to bargain. unfortunate too that the philippines is in the same position in the WTO.) but after careful consideration, i thought to myself that i can't be insulted in this way. i also had my pride and dignity to maintain. i will hopefully draft a resignation letter which is readily at my disposal so that when this incident happens again, i am ready.

i have also practiced in my head a dialogue which sounds like this, "with all due respect, sir, please don't treat me like a child. i am a trained professional which should be treated with respect too. i resent your tone of condescension. if you want things to be done in this manner, please tell me so in a tactful manner."

it's a shame that some people walk around in this world not knowing or even worse, not caring, for the ripple effects of a certain action. so many claims of a global village is in the offing but what is it really? one village with one soul or one village with solitary interests aggregated. in a village, one affects the other. as a rule, even in the economy, placing one resource in another area will deprive another area. so, a global village with global repercussions.

i hesitate and reluctantly don't want to meet these people which only have themselves in mind and who don't care for others. they are bereft of love, not just for others but also for themselves. for what is love if you can't give it away. would loving yourself be considered love? what is love? webster's definition relates to a "strong attachment to someone or something" which connotes an object outside of the actor who "loves."

so, with an insensitive world today, who are we left to turn to. i have good people in mind. but i hope that the "insensitives" in this world will not wreak havoc by infecting others to be indifferent that they should only prize their happiness over others. i hope that people will become more "feeling" and sensitive of others so that wars, hatred and conflict will cease to exist.

i hope that with sensitivity, it will not create an environment of excessive obsessive compulsiveness leading to paranoia, but of true caring for one another.

i had a friend who fell in a puddle but she wasn't helped or asked how she was. she simply stood up, unnoticed by the world. what kind of world is that?

but there are also those who seem to care. i was helped in carrying the grocery cart up one flight of stairs. it is those rare moments that restores my faith in humanity that perhaps we are not really an "insensitive" world but a world full of love for one another.



1 comment:

Ronnell said...

"i had gone to the bathroom to relieve myself not just from the liquid that was filling my bladder but from the venom that was slowly poisoning my veins." -- loved it!