Monday, 25 October 2004

Below is an actual letter sent to a bank. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times recently, and I find it amusing enough to blog it. Guess banking isn't all that boring after all.

Dear sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival of the funds needed to honor it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only 8 years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $50 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, that when I try to contact you I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, prerecorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on I, like you, choose to deal only with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it after the number of button presses required to access my account balance on your phone banking service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Press buttons as follows

1. To make an appointment to see me.

2. To query a missing payment.

3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am there attending to nature.

6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a later date.

8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.

9. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I, however, wish you a happy, if ever-so-slightly less, prosperous day.

Your humble client, Judy ----

(last name omitted intentionally by The New York Times)

Friday, 22 October 2004

This is especially interesting for me since I love writing - NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), starting November 1.

A whole month to celebrate the joy of writing. Not that I would actually do much in that area. My script seems to have inevitably gone down the drain, what with a lack of resources and yes, I'll admit it, procrastination.

But well, there's always the knowledge that something like NaNoMo exists. The written word is not dead!! Not everybody has forgotten the existence of books outside of school texts!!

And bringing NaNoMo to the next level (where people live in virtual space), Blogger has come up with NaNoBlogMo!

Long live the written art form!

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

it's amazing how people deem themselves as appropriate to nose themselves into other people's business.

A colleague came up to me after lunch today, telling me about a conversation that had transpired between her and another colleague, a person whom I do not know, nor have ever met.

Apparently, she enquired of my colleague as to how can I be dressed so casually. And this was not done in an off-handed manner, but in a disgusted "my nose is so high up in the air, it's a wonder I can still see where I'm going" tone.

My colleague simply replied, "She's a temp staff. And she doesn't need to deal with customers. Your dress code is not applied to her."

"Oh, she doesn't have to see customers?" came the sneering response.

1. What I wear is none of your business. I can choose to turn up in a bunny suit and it still is not any of your business. I leave it up to my supervisor to talk to me about what I wear. And since she has not actually commented on my dressing, I think you should keep your opinions to yourself.

2. I understand I'm working in an office, and I have already succumbed to the culture by NOT wearing jeans, T-shirts and sneakers.

3. I am not you. I do not like to look like a Christmas tree. Or a walking target for robbers. Even if I had money, I would rather spend my money on something more worthwhile and useful than decorating myself so that people would know how wealthy I am. Or dress in such a way so that people would think I am rich, even if I am not. I am more true to myself than that.

4. Is it really that bad that I choose not to conform to the stifling, brainless and superficial corporate culture that I am unfortunately working in? I cannot help it that I happen to have a style I call my own, a style in which I am comfortable in.

And I'm sorry for giving you an ulcer with what I wear.

Actually, I'm not.

Monday, 18 October 2004

my hi-fi set has decided to develop a life of its own.

or is now possessed by a poltergist.

switched on my hi-fi a few minutes ago wanting to listen to a CD. Only problem was, the volume level refused to change. I thought hey, maybe it's got something to do with the buttons on the machine itself, so I tried my remote. No chance there.

Not sensing any alarm yet, I leave it alone for a while. Only thing is, I did not want to listen to track 1. No, I wanted track 7. So I pick up my remote and chose track 7.

That was when I realised my hi-fi was alive.

The numbers on the display kept skipping and refused to settle on a single track. When it finally did, it stayed for a few seconds and moved on. Then it just went absolutely insane.

I stopped it. (and this was probably the last time I managed that.)

I changed CDs. Hey, maybe it was my CD that was faulty.

The moment I put in the CD, I realised something was wrong. The hi-fi just read through ALL the tracks in my CD. It just kept reading the tracks without playing it.

I hit play. It ignored me.

I hit play again. It grudgingly obeys and plays track 1. But within a few seconds into the track, it figured it didn't like the song, and skips to track 2. I stare at it in disbelief. Then it decided it didn't quite like the starting intro music of track 2, so it forwards it a few seconds and then listens on...only to realise that it hadn't forwarded it enough....

My fight with the hi-fi (both using the remote and simply pushing the buttons on the machine itself) goes on for several seconds before I think, maybe I should try to change its function and see what it does in the radio function. Bad decision.

While in its radio function, it starts searching for all available radio stations under the sun, settling at certain ones for a few seconds before moving on. At one point, it stopped for a while at a Tamil station. Goodness knows why. It also stopped for a significant amount of time at Class 95FM.

Sometime while this was happening, I call Faith. It was her hi-fi before I owned it. Maybe she could tell me about the restless spirit haunting it. At the same time, I'm trying to change the function of the hi-fi again, to tape or CD, but it was simply having too much fun that it ignores me. Then I try switching it off. Once again, it refused to obey. It just went on and on, trying to find a station it liked.

After struggling for a good 5 minutes, she suggested I pull the plug. After pulling out 2 other ones thinking it was the correct one, and of course causing both of us to freak out because what would happen if the last plug didn't stop it? It finally stopped with the pulling of the last plug.

It was the only way it could be stopped.

I have a hi-fi that's alive.

Friday, 15 October 2004

While waiting to cross the road to get to the food court near my workplace, I turn to talk to my colleague. Turns out she was already looking at a spot just behind me, with a look of bewilderment on her face.

I turn to see what she's looking at, and took an involuntary jump back. The face of a grinning old grandma was mere inches away from mine. I stared at her in shock while she still stood there, holding an umbrella, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"It's so sunny, come under my shade," she said in Mandarin.

I nodded at her dumbly.

"What are you so afraid of? Did you think I was a guy?" she continued, drawing closer to me. "Now, if you were in Indonesia, where I'm from, you would have a lot to worry about. But it's so safe here. I walk around by myself late at night and I feel perfectly safe! There's nothing to be afraid of!"

My colleague, a much warmer and friendlier person than I am, responded with, "Yeah, you're right. It's is very safe here."

I simply continued staring, trying to smile politely.

"Actually, I'm afraid to cross this road alone. I was wanting some company," she admitted, firmly placing a tight grip around my wrist.

Now, grandma reaches only up to my shoulders, her hands therefore having a shorter distance away from the ground than I do. Suddenly, not only did I feel circulation being cut off from my hand, I find myself standing as if I have a severe back problem that required me to stand with one shoulder higher than the other.

"By the way, how old do you think I look?" she continued, never wavering in her grip.

Thoughts raced through my head:

If I say she's older than she is, I would piss her off and she probably would detach my hand from my arm within seconds.

If I say she's younger than she is, I may be so far off target that she would think I was being cheeky and would still detach my hand from my arm within seconds.

I turn to my colleague with a pleading look in my eyes.

"63," she guessed.

She smugly shakes her head and says, "No, I'm 71," and then goes on to rave and rant about this product that she was using that provided her with such a "youthful radiance".

Meanwhile, I am simply hoping that the traffic would clear within the next few heartbeats so that I am free of her iron grip and the uncomfortable stance I was in. Not mentioning the fact that I probably looked rather weird standing the way I did.

Suddenly, in her eagerness, she loosens her grip to gesticulate something or other. And at a beautiful coincidence, there was a break in the traffic. Quick as lightning, my hand moved to her back as we swiftly crossed the road to my freedom.

I can only thank God that it didn't occur to her to have lunch with us.

What is up with me and strange grandmas? At least this one isn't as vicious or long-term as the last one.

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

An appointment made with her a few days ago.

Me: "So we're going to the gym at Novena?"
Her: "Yeah, I'll be there early, so give me a buzz when you arrive and I'll tell you where I am."

The phonecall to her yesterday.

Me: "Hey, I'm here, where are you?"
Her: "Oh, I'm at Punggol Plaza." (For those not from Singapore, Punggol is where she lives. Novena is a full hour's train ride away.)

30 seconds of stunned silence.

Her: "Actually, at the Koufu food court having dinner."

Another 30 seconds of silence as I ponder if she was pulling my leg.

Then I hear a loud exclaimation, "OH MY GOSH! MEL!!!!! I'm so sorry!!! It totally slipped my mind that today is Tuesday!!!"

Friday, 8 October 2004

Now I've been called all sorts of different things since I came back to Singapore, but this has got to top everything.

While sitting quietly in a corner of the office trying to change the copy of one of our letters to our customers, I hear a voice behind me go, "Timothy?"

I turn around to find a UPS guy looking at me eagerly, face filled with expectation that I would respond to his call.

All he got was a blank look and a "sorry?"

His face fell and you could read it in his face that he fully expected me - full-blooded female with hair tied up in a pony tail, wearing a blouse and a skirt - to be Timothy. My response threw him off and he hesitated before he ventured, "I'm looking for Timothy?"

As I directed him to Timothy, the naturally would be male Timothy since Timothy is a male's name, he muttered, "so he's not sitting here..."


Sunday, 3 October 2004

i finally have my own computer!

Not that this is the first computer in my house, but I've either been working from my ancient 5 year old laptop or my brother's computer before and to finally have my own private pc just feels like absolute bliss. Especially when we've finally moved on with the times and subscribed to cable internet.

Now I can download whatever programs I fancy without having to worry (much) about a lack of memory space.

Now I can play Gunbound without my brother breathing down my neck - a game that reminds one of its cousin, Worms 3D, but with interactive player options. A game in which I'm still trying to figure out.

Now I can surf the internet using the brilliant Mozilla Firefox web browser - much friendlier, powerful and intelligent.

Now I can write articles and do research at the same time.

Now I can stay online forever!

Ah, what has my life become that a computer makes me so happy?
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