Singapore, Friday, 21 October 2011
It’s been raining for hours now and my office which is located on the 20th floor of a 25 story office building felt icy cold. I breathed into my hands and rubbed them against one another to keep myself warm.
I have been working in this small boutique Advertising Agency for almost six months now and recently, they just promoted me into an analyst.
I know, it sounded glamorous, but actually, it’s a shit job that most people avoided like people with STDs. My job is basically to create a market research that proves why my Creative Director’s campaign works.
Of course, no one in the company can tell whether a marketing campaign will eventually succeed or fail, but the research gave our company justifications for charging our clients thousands of dollars for an ad campaign.
I was about to continue working on my market research when my phone rang. I hesitantly picked it up and greeted the caller.
“Dhani? Can you please come back to Jakarta today?” Said a concerned woman’s voice. “Your father just had a stroke...”
It was my mother…
A few minutes later, I found myself dashing into Mr. Eugene’s office like a madman. My mother told me that my father may not survive this. He’s been unconscious for hours now and our doctors were doing their best to resuscitate him.
The door had an imposing ‘Please Knock for Entry’ sign, but I didn’t bother to knock.
“Mr. Eugene, can I talk to you for a sec?”
My tall balding Singaporean Director eyed me with annoyance, but he eventually invited me to sit on a small chair in front of him.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, I told him about the phone call I just had with my mother and asked if I could take a few days leave to visit my family.
“Dhani, you know we have a new campaign to launch soon, right?” said Mr. Eugene.
I understood the situation perfectly. We are a small boutique agency and I’m the only analyst available at the moment. Mr. Eugene needed to show my market research to the clients, so they will be convinced that we are the right agency for the job. Without the research, they would be wondering why a simple social media campaign would cost two thousand dollars a month.
“Please, Mr. Eugene, my father is possibly dying and I’m his only son.” I said. “Can’t you make one concession for me?”
He scratched his balding head and thought for a moment.
“No.” he said. “Do you have any idea what the boss will say, if I let you go back to Indonesia, today? We have a big pitch to make tomorrow and we need that market research to convince the client.”
Adding salt to injury, he even told me that some of my coworkers already disliked me because I’m a foreigner and accused him of treating me differently. He also reminded me how convincing his boss to hire me a few months ago almost cost him his job.
We argued for another fifteen minutes, but I couldn’t change his mind. So I gritted my teeth and told him that I’m quitting…
“Are you out of your mind, Dhani?” Mr. Eugene said. “You know what will happen to you if you decided to quit today, right?”
By quitting the company, I knew I had breached an important clause in my working contract. My contract stated that I should at least work for a year before I was allowed to quit. So after this little stunt, I would probably lose some money and be labeled as ‘unemployable’ by most Singaporean companies.
But I don’t care. My father is dying and this could be the last chance I get to see him. That afternoon, I decided to fly back to Jakarta… for good.