Ratta’s progress

Tuesday 6 March 2012, 5.25pm HKT

11.49am local time / 25°C (77°F) sunny and humid

SOME OF YOU callous caring readers have asked for updates about Råtta (an alias), whom I mentioned in previous posts (“Ratta’s bother” and “Do this if you should get fired: A lifehack exclusive“).

I have good, bad, indifferent and what-the-eff news about her. Try not to snigger and giggle.

By the way, let’s now instead call her Ratta (with no å, the Ångstrom) because it’s one helluva chore to write Råtta.

The good news

Ratta’s landed a job!

You may remember Ratta is fiftysomething, not an age that makes for easy jobhunting nowadays.

She started her new job on 23 February, just three weeks after being made redundant at the old place on 29 January.

During that time, she went to no less than 20 job interviews of varying quality and what-the-effness that I reckon will be far too brickshattingly unbelievable to relate here.

That works out around one job interview a day. In my book, a person like her has dedication, stamina, disciplined and being thorough. Ratta can thumb her nose at the old employers, who can royally suck eggs (and a couple of other ‘things’) for giving Ratta her marching orders.

What’s her job now? We’ll get to that a moment.

The indifferent news

Ratta’s son is going to be 18 in a few weeks’ time, and he’s just started part-timing at some minimum-wage, sweatshop bucketslop owned by an internationally well-known American mega-conglomerate ‘catering’ Evil Empire (not McBongo).

It helps to work for an Evil Empire because the wastage of food is quite staggering. At the end of the day, Ratta’s son brings home literally three or four boxes of free food due for binning. The food is perfectly eatable — it’s just Imperial Policy not to resell today’s food tomorrow. Around 30 or 40 boxfuls (or 200 lbs or 90 kg) of this perfectly eatable food are thrown away every day.

Every little bit helps to shave the grocery bills.

The bad news

Ratta has a sister — let’s call her Fishtail.

Fishtail is 50-ish too, and she’s starting to get the same sordid aggro Ratta got just before sendoff.

Fishtail’s ‘managers’ complained that she wasn’t meeting her customer quotas for some time and now making moves to ship her out. Some of the other managers reconsidered and instead gave Fishtail an ultimatum to shape up (quota-wise) within three months, or GTFO.

Fishtail admits she’s the lowest-selling employee in her company — but that’s mainly because her pay grade doesn’t put her in more direct contact with customers. Like Ratta, Fishtail is in sales support — not exactly designed for grabbing sales prospects. Fishtail basically told the managers that three months to meet sales quota is … well … a near-impossible slog, especially given the just-turned-tougher business conditions here in Hong Kong.

So Fishtail rang Ratta up yesterday to say it might be her turn next to look for a job.

The WTF news

You’re gonna farkin’ like this one.

Ratta now works for a tutorial college — for infants and preteens!

You read it right. And if that wasn’t enough of a mindf*ck already, Ratta’s job title is personal education consultant. She’s on three-month probation before becoming staff.

Ratta is too embarrassed to even say her job title out loud. What flamin’ education consultant?!

She left secondary school with only two or three subjects passed. The older kids (roughly 10 to 12 years old) at the tuition centre are already better ‘qualified’ (in grades and the number of subjects passed) than Ratta herself!

That’s the state of our education sector here. It capitalises on the anxiety of parents who feel their babies must receive a constant piss-stream of anal-retentive structured tuition and drillwork in order to be able to speak 12.932 languages ‘natively’ (as opposed to ‘like a native’) and achieve Grade A’s in 23.8 school subjects before they hit 10.34 years old.

You know it, I know it, everybody else round the world knows it, but these parents obviously have never even heard of kids will become stale when overloaded with study and activities.

Just one single example from Ratta will suffice:—

Kid bumped himself in the crotch in the school washroom, wept and cried, got attended to by the staff, but no damage done. Asked why he was fidgeting all afternoon, the kid said he was tired from the morning picnic trip. And he’ll have to be in dancing lessons later the same day after this place. The kid is five years old.

I can’t stop laughing (in a sardonically sneering way) while I write this.

This is exactly the kind of unnecessary sphincter-expanding butthurt your kid has to live and suffer through for the next 15 years if you’re sold on that maddening craze called the Tiger Mother Syndrome now sweeping the world over.

Motherf*cker, did you tiger it?

I will not apologise for saying this, but that is the f@#king psychopathic crap propounded by that American-born Philippine Chinese lawyer/professor personage by the name of Amy Chua in her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin, 2011, 240 pages).

“Tiger Mother” is a parenting memoir of how Chua raised her two daughters (both at Harvard now).

The Wall Street Journal picked up on the spiel and even got Chua to write her own piece there (“Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” 8 Jan 2011, WSJ). That unleashed the fearsome terror that book contains on the congenitally brain-damaged (or 80% of the world population) who thought it’s the best thing since sliced bollocks.

Frankly, between you and me, “Tiger Mother” would cause you to:—

  • EITHER think it’s the cure-all to handling your brats (if you’re brainless)
  • OR send shivers down your proverbial spine (if you have half a brain left)
  • OR buy the book and treat it as a training manual to milk cash off delusional parents with self-induced offspring anxieties (if you have a full brain)

Excuse my blasphemy, but Jesus Christ! man, I’ve never read such frighteningly neurotic stuff in my life before. The things people do to children. Stop concentrating on her well-formed English locution and pay attention to her ideas. My personal belief is to get children to achieve as much as humanly possible, aim high, shoot from above the belt, and enjoy the finite years on Earth. I’m no slacker and am not disposed to tolerate slacking. But “Tiger Mother” goes too far.

You, tomorrow

Realise there’s something important in my second point above. If you’ve bought into the spiel, you’re in fact producing, training, conditioning, inculcating, imbibing — choose the words you like best — a generation of psychopaths. Overachievers are psychopaths — you know this, you must do — because when you the parent is old and decrepit, slowly shutting down, no longer achieving so well, you no longer measure up to your kids’ overwrought expectations of your achievement. Kids who are like that, they’ll ditch the by-now-underachiever you one fine day in your geriatric hour of need. I’ve seen it happen before, first-hand.

Uptight and untidy

Listen, not to put too fine a point on things, what does […]

Sorry, I’ve deleted/censored this part because I think I was being a bit too blunt, and just a bit too racially motivatedly racist.

But I will say Chua is as Great Lakes Yankee as you could possibly get. I had a highly Westernised Chinese mother, and Mum was nowhere near as Westernised as Chua. The stuff Chua wrote, I saw nothing Chinese. So I don’t know where Chua got the phantasmagorical idea that she’s ‘a Chinese mother.’

I don’t think she’s putting in enough effort to achieve the requisite grade in Chinese motherhood. Such an underachiever. Nil marks.

Not exactly [censored]

[This part deleted/censored]


[Some parts deleted/censored]

If “Tiger Mother” is a battle hymn, then I remind you, those who live by the sword, dies by the sword. Namsayin’?

I happen to think the kids at Ratta’s place are having their childhood years being slowly snuffed out of them by their very own loving, caring, EQ-sensitive, socially aware, socioculturally dynamic, delusional, neurotically obsessive parents with ching-chong chowmein testicles for brains.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Ratta via furry.org.au | Fishtail pop art via GMFS | Food box via Alliance Online | ‘I was a nice wall…’ via c4c.

Do this if you should get fired: A lifehack exclusive (3/3)

Wednesday 1 February 2012, 9.50pm HKT

From Part 2

(This finale is a bit late because of being held up by work.)

When you’re fiftysomething like Råtta, losing your job is no joke, especially in a raw capitalist toilet city like Hong Kong.

We give you two final protips and then we’ll take questions.

* * *


When you’re on the chopping block, so to speak, develop an ability to “have it inside you” to “have it in for them” to save your skin.

They’re hosing you down* and giving you the finger**, and that ain’t a shower and a massage.

An alternative 'finger'

* In the American journalistic meaning of ‘to try to stop people from believing in something that may cause problems,’ of course. But you’re free to interpret the phrase according to its more ‘usual’ meaning, namsayin’?

** Meaning a finger pointing at the exit door, but you’re free to interpret the word in its ‘usual’ meaning.

You get one life, and one life is all you got. Why should other people get away with your bad behaviour that you are too gormless to carry out?

Yours truly here is actually a Type A personality, though you probably wouldn’t think so looking at the way I mostly carry on. Many crap situations just aren’t worth the firepower, and not worth ‘the stretch’ in the brig to take things to the next level. I’ve learnt from a young age that polite aggro hurts a helluva lot more than brute-force hacking.

I just lurve seeing people with either faces that have gone pale or clenched fists with white knuckles. Heaven knows others have caused me to have both plenty of times.

But if you let crap people tread all over you (or anyone else), the our gods/Jesus/Buddha/name your favourite deity died for nothing.

Nothing personal, it’s just karma.



Youthfulness is always desirable, especially in old age. (English adage)

Another thing  are you good for your age? There’s an old saying that you should keep yourself in tiptop form even at 60 because you’ll never know when you’ll have to crank up firepower in competition with the young’uns. If you’re a bleeding physical wreck, then life’s gonna rough you up.

Develop an ability to make yourself youthful — even if it’s just doing small tricks to your overall looks. Look smart and lively. I don’t even remember how many times I’ve said this.

It's not that hard, you know

To make yourself look a few years younger isn’t trying to ‘flash’ or ‘glam’ or about some crazy psychological hankering for one’s lost youth.

Honestly speaking, at age 50 or more, you’d probably have forgotten nearly everything about your own youth.

We’re living in the 21st century now. You’re not in Kansas anymore. Looking more youthful is a practical equaliser. I’m telling you, man, ‘old’ is denigrated as society’s flotsam. Oldies are practically and instantaneously replaceable by all manners of young cattle now overpopulating our sordid little world.

Try these for size (from easiest to hardest to carry out):

  1. Change (or merely adjust) your overall wardrobe (easiest)
  2. Have gorgeous locks (depends if you have hair left)
  3. Dye your hair 50% closer to ‘natural’ colour (or blondify it if all grey)
  4. Eat for a beautiful smile
  5. Protect your body from sun damage
  6. Form healthier habits
  7. Keep your brain sharp: play anti-ageing brain games
  8. Learn new technology, even if you hate and detest it
  9. Learn expert makeup (and makeover) tips
  10. Understand health news and shift through the BS about anti-ageing
  11. Create your own anti-ageing product arsenal
  12. Love your heart (hardest)

Average lifespan worldwide keeps rising. Company retirement age constantly lowering. The government keeps jacking up the social security retirement age. Ageism more and more pronounced by the year. Prices rising, incomes falling, jobs disappearing. Ad infinitum, ad flamin’ nauseum.

The worldwide average births-to-deaths ratio is 100 to 1.2 — just how are YOU going to feed, clothe and house your 50-year-old self over the next 15 to 40 years when there’s 100 babies born for every one person + one leg dying, huh?

What else, what bloody else, I ask you, could anybody do other than try and look a bit more sprightly?

Nothing personal, it’s just me.

I said ‘younger,’ not brain-damaged…

* * *


What the hell are you so worked up about, man?

Are you 50-ish, with a mortgage still to run for 15 years, with a miseducated kid who’s too old to spend little but too young to work? If not, then you can’t even imagine Råtta’s predicament.

‘You would rapidly change your mind if it happened to you.’
(English maxim)

But businesses are not in the charity business. Businesses must have freedom to hire and fire as they see fit.

Are you asking a question or just stating the obvious, Captain Kangaroo?

This isn’t about freedom to hire and fire, nitwit. It’s about how to face immediate termination of employment.

Get a job yourself! You’ve obviously never worked before.

Why the advice for causing unpleasantness? They said they’re going to pay her entitlements. You’re teaching people to cause trouble.

My father once wrote in his book, “Hong Kong is the American Dream that America had always wanted.”

Translated, it means Hong Kong is 10 times more capitalist (and capitalistic) than the good ole’ USA. Employers are legally free to cause and watch you squirm, writhe in pain, rot and die.

Employer's finger

Our esteemed government compounds the harshness by invariably siding with employers at the expense of employees on the excuse that employers are ‘investors in the economy.’

Translated, that means everybody else is just fodder or flotsam. (That’s insulting, srsly.) And then ‘they’ complain why people are no longer obedient and submissive or ‘know their place.’

The Labour Department issues various guidebooks on employment matters, but they’re mostly useless. They lift big chunks of the law word for word so unless you’re legally trained, you don’t know what you’re reading.

Our phantasmagorical Labour Tribunal actually bars the use of the phrase ‘non-payment of wages’ (an internationally used term) and instead invents the more innocuous phrase ‘delayed wage payment.’ I actually know people who’ve had wages ‘delayed’ for literally 10 years. Our statute of limitations on civil claims is six years — Sayonara! to those ‘delayed’ wages, baby!

If something simple like that happens, what kind of help can we expect?

Unless you live here, you pseudo-liberal-leaning neoconservative fascist commie, you know fo’shiz jackass about being out of work here.

Wot now with Råtta?

I hate to be blunt, but when you hit 50, life ain’t worth living, job-wise speaking.

Råtta’s 50-something and highly unlikely to find another job that pays HK$14,000 a month (US$1,805 or £1,150).

(See what I mean? These people just don’t make an impact on any kind of bottom line, not even after factoring in that holier-than-holy costs of employment excuse concept.)

Cost of employment … costlier than the
golden parachutes 
for your managers?

Did she know this was coming?

Since the company closed the downtown office last year, Råtta said she felt things wouldn’t be turning out right for her. Hard to explain. The bosses didn’t speak to her in their usual manner. Job duties became odder and odder. The ‘feel’ at work was all wrong, she said.

Truth be told, I had this bizarre dream three or four nights ago about myself getting the pink slip — a job I had in real life 15 years ago. My hunch: the dream was about Råtta’s job instead.

(Yes, I sometimes dream about other people and their goings-on, even when some of these other people aren’t necessarily close to me. Peculiar that, isn’t it?)

Who’s taking over her place?

Gunga Din for all we care.

Råtta’s company is profitable, but the holding company up top is bleeding like an over-menstruating woman on blood thinners.

(So profits are for corporate menstruation…)

Seems like Queenie (a new hire) will be shoehorned into Råtta’s job. But Råtta said Queenie’s getting on in years (nearing 50) and probably won’t be able to handle the ever-increasing (and essentially pointless) workload generated by the four infighting brand and sales managers. The Old Man doesn’t give a toss because he’s way past retirement (70-something) and planning to live the sweet life someplace else.

Methinks the same fate will befall on Queenie, and that too ain’t nice.

* * *


If anyone is interested in hiring Råtta, contact me on this blog
and I’ll send you her details.

* * *

Thank you

Please leave comments for Råtta’s sake.


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Dislike button via Digital Trends ♦ White Knuckles (modified) via XyFace ♦ Looking younger via Garmahis ♦ Employer’s finger via NITP ♦ Tips via The Independent ♦ Pink slip via Homeowners Insurance.

Do this if you should get fired: A lifehack exclusive (2/3)

Wednesday 1 February 2012, 4.51am HKT

From Part 1

So Råtta’s got the sack yesterday on the highly popular excuse of cost-cutting — which I don’t believe for one goddamn minute, even with my highly fragmentary understanding of how her company works.

We continue with more protips on how to face an immediate termination of employment when there’s pronounced ageism in the jobmarket and you’re 50-something, lumbered with a 15-year-long mortgage and a badly schooled half-grownup kid who can’t enter the workforce yet.

(It’s not a happy story, but please do leave comments. For Råtta’s sake if not mine.)

… but only if it loves you too

* * *

It’s not meant to be usable, idiot

3. Råtta was promised a reference letter in due course, spelling out her ‘duties’ etc.

Remark: Some employers (yours truly included) are just plain mean and nasty. They compose a reference letter that basically says everything wrong about you without being defamatory — or factual. You end up with an unusable reference letter. Don’t let this happen to you.

Example (as happened to me before):

“[The Naked Listener] was employed by our Company between 5 BC and AD 375 in the position of Inquisitor Captain-General. His duties were [etc] and he has shown to have a knowledge of English…”

A knowledge of your mother!

I’ve been speaking English since before your miserable existence on Earth even started! You, as a native English speaker, couldn’t even speak native English.

See what I mean about an unusable reference letter?

Protip: This is why I keep telling people till I’m blue in face to actually draft up a reference letter or jobsheet soon after starting employment. Add in job details etc as you go along. We all getting fired sooner or later, and when that one fine day comes, you’ll at least have something to show what you’ve actually f@#king done for the ingrates. You cannot, must not, should not rely on Human Resources after the fact — they’re mostly too incompetent to work out their own jobsheet because of the office infighting they’re usually involved in. I speak this as an employer myself, you stupid runt. Nothing personal, just a business decision.

Protip: They’re NOT going to honour the crap reference letter! It’s only documentary evidence that you’ve worked there before — nothing more, you moron.


They’re just promises

4. Råtta said the termination pay will be credited to her bank account by [date].

Protip: If your continued or prolonged presence is somehow ‘unrequired’ for them, then their continued or prolonged termination procedure is likewise ‘unrequired’ for you. Your request for immediate fulfilment of termination entitlements is YOUR reasonable step to ensure THEIR efficient tying up of loose ends and yourselves’ mutual cooperativeness. Nothing personal, just a responsible business decision. Karma’s a bitch, right?

Protip: The moment you get your pink slip, they’re no longer your employers. They owe you a debt, legally speaking. They gave you only a verbal promise of termination payment, etc. A company that requires your immediate departure whilst apparently able to pay termination entitlements cannot reasonably be expected on the balance of probability to fulfil promises made to you. Request for immediate fulfilment of termination entitlements is reasonable under the circumstances. I do believe it’s called quid pro quo, wasn’t it? Nothing personal, it’s just responsible legal practice.

Protip: Whilst you accept their promise at face value, you are taking circumstantially reasonable steps to ensure the entitlements are received and not just receivable. The fact of requiring your immediate departure can be construed as their possible attempt to delay or avoid (or even inability) to pay entitlements, even whilst measured against your admittedly incomplete understanding of the company’s overall internal situation. Nothing personal, just responsible business decision. Karma’s a bitch, right?


‘Don’t make trouble’ is rubbish

5. Råtta didn’t want to cause a ‘scene’ by hanging around the office any longer than necessary.

Remark: No kidding — as if anybody wants to hang around for senti-bloody-mental reasons. Don’t ferkin’ make it easy! Telling you to piss off right away is itself on balance of probability an action designed to give you a hard time. Stop defending crap people. Aggro can be done politely too.

HDQ isn't short for High Definition Quadrature

Protip: Ditch the ‘please don’t make trouble’ mentality in situations like Råtta’s. You can’t be THIS stupid, can you? You’re being hanged, drawn and quartered! Not asking you to be rude or unpleasant, but realise you owe them nothing now. They’re giving you The Finger, so you should also to them.

Protip/remark: Their requiring your immediate termination is suggestive of a perception on their part that your continued presence is somehow undesirable. Otherwise, there should be no reason for immediate departure. And that immediate termination can be regarded as a defamatory label against you. Nothing personal, just a responsible legal perspective.

Protip/remark: Their payability of termination entitlements in lieu of notice  is consistent with their possessing an ability to keep you on employment until the 30 days’ notice runs out. Otherwise, this reinforces the reason given above. Nothing personal, just responsible legal logic.

* * *


Put in some comments, for Råtta’s sake. It’ll be good for her morale.


Go on to Question Time on Take 3 (finale).


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: ‘Describing the Job’ via UCLA ♦ I Love My Job via Prof. Saleh Al-Jufout ♦ A promise made via Bankrupting America ♦ Hanged, drawn and quartered via The Pogues.

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