Friday, June 4, 2010

I Can See Right Through You

i have never been simplE. i've always been a hexagonal stick in a hive of square holes. there are more facets to me that you can not just peg. 

have you ever felt instances in your professional life where you see the top but something intangible prevents you from moving further uP? to some, this is called the glass ceiling. the truth is it does not apply only for women. it applies to people of the rainbow flag. people like me or (maybe) you.

thank god that in this company i am now working for, diversity is like the air we breathE. this post is more of an ode to that sad reality for most of my brethren -working for corporations where they are forced to keep their inner selves from coming out in the open. i've been there. by some sheer stroke of luck and an ounce of perseverence i did not stay long. i can not begin to imagine how difficult it is for them who remain. i can't help but contrast how good i got it where i work. i am grateful to be able to thrive in the corporate world, keep my truth, and still be respected for it.

look! birdies!


in my first foray into this strange world called work, i started with a multinational financial institutioN. 'the world's local bank' is their slogan. i worked in the Madrigal branch (read: Ayala, Alabang). the first day i stepped into the premises, i thought to myself, i'm fucked. of all the branches i would be assigned in, i got assigned to one with a workforce of 90% straight burly males! from the manager, to the teller/cashiers, to new accounts and of course to the -ers (manong janit-ers, deliv-er-y boys, secu-er-ity guards). we had 3 girls who were assigned to the premier accounts so we don't really get to interact with them as much.

if i'm not with friends, i can camouflage well enough to waylay the unsuspecting crowD. note that i don't have illusions that i may not be obvious, i just know myself well enough. i am not blatant when i'm not comfortable with the people around me. i'm just plain bored so i don't express myself as much. i blend in. i wash out. and that they mistake for being, ahem, straight. 

lunch breaks (or any other break) are really awkwarD. all they talk about are girls, basketball, getting more girls, girls in porn, knocking up a girl, video games and cars. i can relate with the last 2 because i've always been a videogame fanatic and cars are my fascination. but the rest, oh dear lord. 

they keep asking me to bring my "girlfriend" over sometime to get to know heR. i told them i don't have a girlfriend. which no one believes, all thanks to my classmate/then-best friend (who happened to look like a pin up model), dropped by the branch one time to pick me up to hang out in Alabang Town Center. like salivating dogs teased with the prospect of a juicy steak, they never got over it. as much as i didn't know what to do about it, i decided to just go along with the flow. that was way before i learned what the gay term "beard" meant.

as the days pass by, i found the groove in keeping up the facadE. it become a routine for me. that was the point in my life when i thought, 'hey, i could do this.'

but alas, life has a sense of humoR. it would have been easy if you are swimming in a sea of average looking men. what made it difficult was i had a really attractive colleague. i still remember his name. bernard. just the name sends me into that kilig moment. ha! he's tisoy (my type of guy), 5'10, beefy with that devil may care smile that can drop panties at will (at least what the girls say). oh did i mention, he smells so good? not that i smell him when he has his back turned to me. i'm macho too, remember? true story!

he was promoted to assistant manager not because of his credentials or capability (haha, bitter much?) but because he looks so good in a monkey suit, the haughty clients always ask for hiM.

there was this one instance though where i got turned off big timE. it was when the discussion revolved around a teller applicant. he recommended to the manager that we not hire the guy. manager asked why, he simply said oh so arrogantly, 

"malamya. nakita mo ba tingin sakin, sir? parang lalamunin ako. yuck." and so, stupid branch manager agreed and voiced out more bigoted filth and did not hire the poor applicant. 

just like that, my attraction to him dissipateD. i felt so bad for the kapatid applicant. sayang, cute pa naman. ha! the sad lesson in all this is, it's not what you know but who you know...and what you look like...and what's your preference that moves you forward in the corporate world..

saD. very, very sad.


flash forward to 1 year later, i ended my contract with that companY. i felt stifled. i wanted to be me, but i can't be me. and to be more in this company, the more i have to be not me. do you sometimes feel like that? hopefully not. if yes, the i feel you, brother.

that's when the beckon of the call center industry lulled mE. the so called mecca for diversity. it was too tempting to pass up. a change of environment surely wouldn't hurt. i won't go into the sordid details for now (in a future entry perhaps). but the gist of it is i started from the bottom and worked my way up through the ranks.

let's just say that it's liberating to be comfortable in your own skiN. even more so when you have a position and you have the respect of your people - not because you asked for it, but because you earned it through your hard work. the rest about me doesn't matter.


i got scared when the call center chapter of my life was coming to an enD. i was on the verge of moving back into the corporate world. surprise, surprise! im back working for a multinational financial institution (one who believes in what matters to us, matters most). my initial fear was brushed away when i learned that the culture in this company is what we make of it (read: you are what you are and we embrace it). in fact, it's part of the code of conduct to respect diversity. walls are rare, if existent at all. we were all able to foster a community of people who try to see past the preference. 

looking back on my past, i can't help but laugh a little at the tremendous effort i go through everyday just to fit iN. nowadays i just do it for kicks. like this one time i got to handle a group of people. it was only for a short time so i said to myself, try doing the old you. see what happens. 

it's both awkward and flattering at the same time when the girls show interesT. i also get a kick when initially i do not register on PLU radar. but eventually i let them in. it's no secret, of course. i wouldn't have it any other way.


if you knew then what you know now, what would you dO?

if this new me got a chance to talk to young, impressionable me, i would have told myself to lighten up a biT. sure, some parts of the world we move in frown on what is different, what is aberrant or simply put: what is not the norm. but that shouldn't give you the credence that you should whittle off your extra corners to fit into the pegs. rather, make the hole fit you. it may take them a while to get used to you but they'll get there. it won't happen unless you start it.

the hive...fuck it.


happy weekends everyonE!


JR said...

Damn! sapul na sapul ako idol...naka relate ako sa post na ito - its one of the many reasons why lilipat ako ng state at work, hirap na ako maging straight hahaha...thanks for sharing your experience!

Advent said...

we all have common threads. glad to hear you are now in a better place JR. hehe.

Mr. Brightside said...

Although our company practices equal opportunity in relation to gender/preference, sometimes it's hard to be who you want to be / who you really are... Whenever some of my office mates would talk about alleged PLUs from another department, they would talk about him like he has an incurable contagious disease... I hope someday, I could work for a company that really respects individuality... thanks for this post Advent

Mr. Brightside said...

"i'm macho too, remember? true story!"

barney stinson? haha

Désolé Boy said...

**love this**

Advent said...

@mr brightside:
that is but a sad reality we must all face. i mean, yeah, in my company there would still be some rotten tomatoes in the pile. cant help it. pero im happy that there are more enlightened people.

btw, i love the catchphrase so i'm gonna use it often.


Eternal Wanderer... said...

to conform or not to conform? ;)

p.s. what's witht he capitalization? is it random or is there some secret message? lolz

Peter said...

Enough reason to terminate my accounts with HSBC! Good luck where you are now. Keep us posted.

Advent said...

that is the question.

pps. good question. is there? hmm....chaos theory or random progression?


well, i don't want to damn the whole company. maybe it's just here in the phils. thank you, i will.

ikotoki said...

beautifully written. you hit it right on the head. haha. nakakarelate ako when i used to be closeted. haha

Songs Of Lasher said...

Oh, I love you. Marry me.

nimmy said...

clap! clap! clap!

Advent said...

glad to have written something that people can relate to. :) masarap maging malaya. hehe.

i love you too...i guess? hehe. muah!