To Impress

One of the supplier’s area coordinator told me he took their president to see our best branch and made sure to show the same president the uglier branches of the other competitors.  It didn’t matter to me in any way.  But then the next lines he said made me chuckle.  He figured I needed all the help I could get since I wasn’t the sort to show off our capabilities.

He said; Ma’am the others can take care of themselves in the impress others division.  But I have to take your place in showing off so that the head office will not take you for granted.

I told him he’s very sneaky but that I loved what he did, at the same time chuckling.

Which brings me to why people need to be impressed by outlying stuff in order to look kindly upon you or your business.  Why can’t our orders and how we handle our accounts speak for us?  We may not be the top orderers but we certainly can not be ignored.  And our accounts are paid in full on time.  

This area coordinator often chides me for not showing off.  Our suppliers are easily impressed by a fluent english speaker and by trappings of wealth.  I only speak straight english to native english speakers and when I am angry.  For some reason, I express my anger more effectively in english.  When I speak to people who are not fluent in english, I sometimes drop the prepositions and the clauses; trying to make the sentences as simple as possible.

I do not understand that mentality at all.  To impress others.

Many people I know buy expensive branded bags, watches, belts etc. because of the prestige that is associated with the brand and not because they truly like it. The most expensive bag I bought is also branded (although just a starter model) not because of the brand but because it was so practical, very utilitarian and it looked so good on the shoulders of many women I saw.  My bag has shielded me from the rain, gone through the dirty conveyor belt of an x-ray machine without a tray, used to transport some smelly stuff – yes, it has been thoroughly used the past 3 years.  Sometimes I would smile when I see other bags handled with care, protected from the rain, covered in dust bags and heaven forbid if it should touch the floor.  

But I guess that works to impress other people into looking favorably at them, maybe even giving them more concessions or more business opportunities.  

We are doing well without the impress others factor.  We might not have the higher management’s ear but as long as they are fair, it doesn’t matter.  We don’t need to be equal, to be treated fairly is enough.


Many people I’ve met in the course of business personalize everything.

Last week I informed a new hire that we wouldn’t be renewing his contract once it expired.  He asked me if he did something to offend me.  He apologized for whatever it was.  I had to assure him that it wasn’t the case and that I was not that kind of person.  It was simply a matter of redundancy.  We simply realized that his position was not required; that his responsibilities could be handled more efficiently if it were farmed out to several existing employees at less cost.  

It’s the same thing with a supplier when we scaled down our orders,  Was I angry over something?  asks their coordinator.

Why can’t it be that their product is no longer selling well and that it was a business decision to maximize capital?  Why do people have to presume that I am angry or displeased or offended?

Sometimes I think I’m dealing with teenagers instead of adults.


There is tact and there is insincerity.

Our hosts were showing off their new products and personally I thought it was interesting although not really that great a product.  One in our group gave her verdict in our language after testing the product.  “It was horrible”  she said.  And not five minutes later when the guide asks her how it was, she says “This is great!”

I was uncomfortable with that.  I have always been honest with my responses although of course I try to be diplomatic by not being too detailed or maybe toning down the negative stuff.

For lunch that day, our hosts prepared Philippine food.  It was no way near the taste but it was a good attempt.  It wasn’t bad.  One of the hosts asked me how I liked the food.  And I didn’t know how to phrase it …  I hemmed and hawed a bit and said something like it was ok.  The host smiled and said, “I know by the way it took you awhile to reply that it wasn’t that great”.  And so I had to explain to him that it was good food but just not good Philippine food.

The same thing happened with one of my group mates.  When we were alone, he dissed the food but when the chef came out, this group mate immediately complimented him on the food.

So insincere.  


My Rebellion



The little rebel in a sea of black shirts.

Our trip sponsors distributed T-shirts for us to wear when we were to visit the Taj Mahal at Agra; to make it easier for them to identify us.

No way, I thought to myself.  I’m not going to see one of the famous landmarks in the world wearing some nondescript black shirt.  I was going to be colorful to give justice to this symbol of love.

So there I was, the little rebel.  🙂


And That is Why I don’t Like Free Trips

We travel in two days and we got our itinerary only now.  The dates they initially told me had been changed and they didn’t even update me.  Of course the preferred dates and time I gave them depended on the original itinerary.  I specifically chose those dates/time in order to minimize the wait time from domestic to international. 

But they changed the international departure and they kept my original domestic request date.  Which meant that I now had to waste almost a day with nothing to do.  There are so many things to do at home, one day means a lot. 

I shouldn’t be choosy since everything is free but heck, my time is precious.  And I am at that age where I can afford to turn down freebies if it doesn’t suit my schedule or if it wrecks havoc on my plans.

So yes, that is why in the 20 years that I have been entitled to free trips, this is only the second time I have availed of it and now I am reminded why I was right not to have joined the herd.

Travelling by ourselves is the best.  I get to choose my schedule and best of all, 2 weeks before we depart, everything is ready, booked and printed.  Right now, I am still waiting for my return ticket.

Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency (OTC or OTD)

Reblogged from previous blogs:  Plus an updated entry


***OTD is an X-linked urea cycle deficiency.  To summarize, a person with OTD won’t be as efficient in processing protein with the result that ammonia levels in the body will sometimes rise to dangerous levels and lead to coma and eventually death

27 January 2007 

I finally met Dr. Cederbaum 2 days ago at UCLA. He’s the one who confirmed O’s OTD condition. Its a mild form so not much to worry about. He’s hoping O can join a national project to study OTD and other urea cycle disorders. According to the good doctor (who looks a bit like Woody Allen) O has got a mild form that would be interesting to study as most cases don’t get past pre-teen years. 

Dr. Cederbaum, being also a psychologist, asked us how the diagnosis has affected our life. The question threw me for a loop. I never thought about it. I’ve always thought that I would lose O to some other thing.  Anyway, it was funny the way he was tiptoeing around that death question. We kind of laughed and I could visibly see his demeanor changing to a more comfortable stance.

All in all it was an interesting day. Traffic is hell in LA. Was I glad when we finally left for Riverside.


17 Oct 2010

The better half left me for several days to do his thing.  I think of it as a sort of dry run. 

His health episodes have been coming almost monthly.  I don’t even think about next year anymore.  I just hope for one more month.  Di pa naman (Not yet) day to day living, more like month to month till the next episode.   

Mealtimes with the kids are kind of dry with no O around.  It seems that I am a more fun mom with him around.  I guess its difficult to be easygoing if you’re the only one thinking of the kids’ whereabouts, well-being, homeworks…  

A partner is like a counterfoil.  When I am in a serious mood, he provides the fun and the jokes and vice versa.  Without him, I become the serious parent.

I realized that being alone is not only about loneliness.  Faced with more responsibilities, one tends to become more glum.  I noticed I laughed less these past few days.  It was with an effort that I joked with the little one tonight.  And teased the other two.


17 July 2011

I woke up yesterday, thought of my mom-in-law’s relatives who died of bangungot (a Philippine term where a person dies in his sleep).  I swear that was the first thought when I woke up.  I turned over and looked at O.  All of a sudden there was this feeling of thankfulness that he still is with me.  It suffused my whole being.

Thank you Lord for giving me 16 years with him.  Everyday is a bonus.  I am grateful.


15 October 2012

O had another episode last night.  As I watched him sleep, I sent out a plea – Please, I hope not so soon after my mom.  I am strong but not that strong.  I imagined life without O, my tears fell.  

I need more siao chai (a chinese term where it is believed one can fool bad luck by helping others in cash or in kind) this year.


9 September 2013

I think O has got a system for dealing with OTD now.  The daily tea and coffee has certainly helped.  They are diuretics.  And the goal is to lower the ammonia levels in his body.  Passing urine, sweating – those help lessen the frequency of the episodes.  And when he feels an onset of OTD episode, which happens less frequently now.  I count 4 or 5 since last October, Anyway when he feels an episode coming on, I now know what to do.  Water helps; the more he is able to take in the more he is able to to pee.  Then a cold herbal pillow on his forehead to lessen the head pains; not really a migraine or headache – he says its more like the whole head is being crushed.  Then I let him sleep. 

It is no longer as frightening as last year.  I know things are ok when he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  And he himself knows when the episode is winding down when he smells windex in his pee or sweat.

Watermelons also help.  When he’s had a particularly protein heavy meal, he tries to order watermelon juice or shakes.  

I don’t know if this is scientific or not, but it works for O.





Credit Card Fraud

This situation with O’s credit card is giving me an upset stomach.

3 months ago we were woken up before dawn with a phone call. We missed the first call but were able to answer when the phone rang again. It was the credit card provider’s support group, calling to confirm a transaction for plane tickets. O emphatically denied the transaction and asked when it happened. Just a few minutes ago, the caller replied. She was a bit taken aback by O’s denial. She asked again to be sure if the transactions were authorized. O reiterated his denial of the transaction. The credit card provider then informed O that she would cancel his credit card then and there and send a replacement as soon as possible.

We thought that was that. We were thanking our lucky stars that the transaction was flagged as fraudulent immediately after it went through. And the transaction being the purchase of plane tickets, we thought they would’ve informed the airline to void the transaction.

About two weeks after that call, they called again but we were out riding our bike and so did not hear the phone ring. O called them back as soon as we saw the missed call. It seems the credit card provider’s left hand does not know what it’s right hand is doing. O told them that he was returning a call and they had no idea who called us or why. So we took the opportunity to ask about the status of the fraudulent transaction. Well, gee, it seems that the transaction is still on O’s records and now we had to send a dispute form for them to reverse the charges.

In the meantime our statement arrived and the transactions were indeed posted. The bastards maxxed out O’s card with 4 plane tickets on Qatar air chargeable in Saudi Riyal. That was a dead giveaway. To be able to be charged in Riyal meant the transaction occurred in Saudi Arabia and we were in the Philippines.

And so we submitted a dispute form together with all the other documents they requested. Last month, we got the latest statement and saw that the charges had been reversed. I was happy.

And then today O receives an email that the disputed charges can not be processed because the plane tickets had been FLOWN already. What the?

Didn’t they warn the airline that those tickets were purchased fraudulently and that they should be cancelled? I don’t know how these things work.

Anyway, they asked O again in the email if maybe he recognized the passenger names on the tickets, maybe he knew them. O fired off a response denying the transaction and unequivocally stating that he did not know these bastards.

It is not a good feeling in the pit of my stomach. That’s a big amount, I told O. O said he will never pay those charges. And in the meantime he set aside the card.

I feel bad. *Sigh* I hope this matter is settled soon.

Sometimes It Still Pricks

It’s been several years now, when things soured between this company and ours.  Decades of business partnership and personal friendship – almost destroyed.  Both sides had missteps.  We understand each other now but I still can not totally accept what they did.

We’re ok now.  Every step of the way since then, they are trying to make up for the misunderstanding.  I understand their hands are tied and they can not undo what has been done and I appreciate that they bend over backwards in their dealing with our company.  They give me concessions beyond what is standard.  But even knowing what I request they will grant, it is not in me to milk them for that misadventure.  Only what is reasonable and sometimes only when they suggest it.

On the surface we are ok.  We laugh and joke when we see each other.  But there is a difference.  Things will never be as warm and open and trusting as it was before.  I know the main character is still uneasy and very apologetic when he sees me.  I try to ease his guilt feelings but deep down there is still a bit of hurt and sadness.  My pride was trampled – ok, that’s too harsh, maybe stepped on but I tried to get over it.  I had to be practical.  I needed them.  It would’ve been stupid to dump them over that misunderstanding.  A misunderstanding that in any business is not that big a deal anyway.  The problem was because I involved pride.  And once pride got in the way, there goes rationality.

I am on the right track I think.  No point in being emotional over this.  But every time I am reminded about the misunderstanding when customers innocently talk about the new situation, deep down I feel a little bad.  Like I want to rail at the cause of my hurt pride and plot a revenge.  It is stupid but that’s how it is.  Emotions can never be totally tamed.  You can hold them at bay but it stays with you for a long long time.

And it changes you.   It’s like I’m smiling but they don’t reach my eyes.  Yes, I was hurt.    I don’t know if I will ever totally forgive them.  

“I hope you understand”, he always tells me with a sad look in his eyes.  I am trying but I really can’t.