Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Days Of Past Futures

The link to is the eight tab from the left on the bookmarks bar of his browser. E@L is not sure why it remains in such a prominent position as it never gets a hit these days. 

Has E@L nothing to report? Has he no opinion on anything? About getting his coffee order correct? About troublesome taxi drivers? About toasters that require three runs through? About books and movies? About the rise in populism, and political insanity. About both conservatives and liberals being painted into unreasonable, irrational positions in the corner of their ideologies by the sloppy brushes of social-media propaganda, a shaken and stirred paint can of silliness from the radicals at the extreme ends of the colour chart (this is E@L stretching a ridiculous metaphor to its breaking point with his hasty thought of RED OR DEAD through to WHITE POWER: it's not a racist comment)?

What about work? Yeah, what about it?

What about his health? Heart attacks, and major surgery? What about major new health issues, and staring into the abyss yet again? Indeed, what about it? [Abyss says, Hey E@L, you back again?] 

About leaving Expatriatdom for good?  About - shudder - riots and plagues? Read on McDuff... 


In Oct 2017, an suspecting E@L was invited into the Lair of the Black Demons, one of the meeting rooms next to the CEO’s office, to meet with the relatively new CEO and the HR person. Uh oh, he thought. And appropriately, because uh oh is what happened.
Softly, contracting her cheek muscles to elevate the sides of her mouth (is that a smile?) HR person said, "We have decided that it's best to bring you in line with the other staff..."

Uh oh.

"So, E@L, you have been a valuable employee for nearly 14 years, but it’s best that all CAS [clinical application specialists] are on similar contracts, so from the end of this month [THIS MONTH!!]...

... we will be removing your housing allowance... [inevitable really, E@L has been riding this caboose of the expat gravy train for way too many years - not that he is complaining!] 

... and your utilities allowance... [turn off the freaking air-con and live like you're in a kampong!] 

.... as well removing your business class flight privileges... [NNNNOOOOOOOOO!], 

.... and ending the repatriation clause in your contract.” [was that still in there?] 

Uh fucking oh. Expat in name only for E@L. He slumps to the desk, slides to the floor...

"We understand that this potentially would require you to downsize your apartment [AAAaaaarrrrrrghhhh! Not E@LGHQ!]. We can help you to obtain a real estate agent to find a less expensive place for you."

"Did you say no housing allowing from NEXT month? NEXT month?"

HR lady retracts her risorial musculature slightly again. “Yes.” CEO says nothing. He has said nothing thus far for the meeting, which is worrying, until E@L remembers that he can’t speak English.

“Do you want me to resign, is that it? Or is there a package? Can you offer a redundancy, same as you did for  ******.” 

“No, E@L, we don’t want you to leave, we really need you. We just want to pay you less. It’s not been a good year. Please sign this document to show you understand and agree to these changes to your contract.”

E@L, in shock, shakes his head, asks for some time to think and excuses himself. He returns to his desk.


First thing he does when back at his desk is look for a copy of his contract. He has kept them hidden in a secret cache in an envelope labelled ‘contracts’ in the middle drawer of his desk. He should remember to lock that drawer. He should try to find the key.

When he subsequently reads his contract for the first time in years (unlike the new CEO who has a highly marked-up copy on his dartboard), he sees a paragraph that states that all of the benefits he is being asked to rescind, to be stripped of, would have been automatically lost if he had taken up permanent residency (PR) or became a Singapore citizen, presumably by getting married. He quickly discarded the thought that the recent discussion with HR constituted a subtle offer of matrimonial bliss. 

E@L was writing an email to point out this (PR, not matrimony) when said HR person came to his desk and placed the document in front of him again. 

“Could you please sign this.”  

HR person actually did this. [In subsequent occasions, such as when E@L was unwell, HR person provided excellent and personable support. But not this day.]

“I’m not signing that!” cries 


(to be continued) 


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