Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Job in China

Since getting back from Georgia, I've been looking for another job abroad. My first choice was Japan. I've been interested in Japan since befriending a very nice Japanese lady on Myspace many years ago. I thought getting a job over there will give me a great opportunity to experience the country, the culture and her people. Alas, their requirements for the jobs over there are very steep. I spent more than a month sending CV's to no avail.

Second choice was China. I spent only a few weeks applying to China and got an email from one of the sites I registered with. they had an opening that I qualified for! I was at work, when the said email came through. I quickly emailed them my stuff. Literally, before my email went through, I got a response! They asked if I was on Skype. They were interested. I am! They added me and my stomach turned of excitement. I was too nervous to accept. And I wasn't dressed cute. You know how it goes! These things always happen when you're not dressed so cute. Plus, I was eating! I ran to the mirror, spruced myself up and accepted the Skype request. This all happened within two minutes! She called me and the interview went something like: Hi. Please state your name?
Me: Babalwa Brook
China: Sorry, I can't hear you?
Me: Ba-ba-lwa B-roo-k
China: tell me a little bit about your work experience?
Me: I -
China: Sorry, I have to go. My phone is ringing, I'm very sorry about this!

In less than 5 minutes, I'd got a response, had an (almost) interview and was left completely confused. Turns out I'd applied for two different positions from the same agency. 2 hours later, she sent me an email, responding to the one I didn't get a response to. Not the one she asked to interview for and offered me the job. I got more confused! I had to ask which position I was being offered. Plus, one paid double the other. Alas, I got the less paying one!

They sent me a contract. Typed on Word. No letterhead! Weird. But oh well. I filled it in and submitted all the required documents. I was so confused. I didn't know whether to be so excited or not. The (almost) interview was on Friday, by Sunday, the contract had been signed, sealed and delivered. I was with my sister at my place when the final confirmation of the job offer came through. She had the same reaction I did - confusion. She suggested we google the agency and the agent. Google.com »» ChinaESL Rebecca Tang »» there's an entire forum threat about her on one of the websites. All good reviews. Perhaps one or two, skeptics. Some (if not all) of the posts were by her.

I had to buy my own ticket, get a Tourist Visa (not Work Visa!), and head to china asap! I was to take a cab to China ESL's offices where Rebecca would fill me in on what was going to happen next. Even though I got a job, they hadn't placed me yet. They'd place me once I got to China. They had all these terms and conditions as to how much money I'd have to pay them pay if I didn't do this, that or the other. I had to think long and hard about this 'opportunity'.

I contacted the Chinese Embassy, +- 12 times in different days before I finally got hold of someone from the Durban branch. No joy in the Sandton, Pretoria and Cape Town offices. I spoke to a Chinese man. He wanted to know how long I was going to China for? And told me: Chinese Tourist Visa Requirements :- I could only get a 1 month Tourist Visa seeing as it was going to be my first time. I had to send them 3 month's bank statement with a balance of no less that R1 000 ($125) for everyday I'd spend in China. They wanted proof of accommodation, like a hotel booking and an itinerary. Here's the thing: I'm not going on vacation!

I had to contact Rebecca and tell her about all this. By the way, Rebecca Tang is also a Visa Agent. You'd expect her to know better than to send me to China on an illegal visa and not to furnish me with the necessary information and documentation for the visa application. I asked her for more help. She replied: no problem, you can come on the 8th! I explained that I thought it would help if they got me a work visa because this tourist visa thing doesn't sit well with me AND the requirements are insane. I'm going to be working there, therefore I didn't need to have all this money in my account. She replied: no problem, you can come on the 10th. Whew! What the heck is going on?!?!?! I was so drained from this back and forth non-communication! I thought hardly about this and did more and more research on the whole thing. I was still miserable at my job and had constant headaches from being treated like an utter moron. China seemed more appealing from where I was standing. I collected all the required documents and got stuck when I got to the itinerary part.

I emailed China ESL again asking for help with the itinerary. They replied: You are great! We would like to offer you the job! THE HECK!?!?!? I had a weird feeling this Rebecca must either have a split personality, amnesia or I was communicating with a machine this whole time. The sent me a contract AGAIN! I thanked them and asked what the next step would be. I also asked about the Work Visa. They told me to get a tourist visa that they would convert it into a work visa once I get to Beijing. I'd had to fly out to Hong Kong (and pay for the flight myself) and they would pay for the visa. I mean really now! Couldn't we just do this before I leave South Africa? Anyway. I asked about the itinerary as I was not really going on vacation and had never been to China. I wouldn't know where to say I was going. They responded: no problem, come this weekend!

Sent from my iPhone

Script Guy

Sometime while I was still on vacation at my mom's, I received a call from a guy I don't know. He wouldn't tell me where he got my number from. He told me he had a script he was working on that he wanted me to read and would like to offer me a role on his play/film. I found it rather strange that he wouldn't tell me where he got my number from. He didn't even know my name! You could tell that he knew of me though from answering some questions I asked him. He said to call him once I get to Johannesburg, so we could meet up. He wanted to hand over the script to me in person. Fair enough.

Out of curiosity, I called him when I got to Johannesburg. We agreed to meet up in Melville on 7th Street. I assumed he'd know I meant at a bar/restaurant somewhere. He asked if I'd be at my sisters. That was interesting as I didn't recall ever telling him about my sister. Mh, maybe something slipped. Who knows! This guy only has a home phone, which meant we had to finalise meeting arrangements before he left his house.

After work, I headed for 7th Street, he was supposed to call me when he arrived seeing as he's the one who doesn't have a mobile. I got a lift on my way to my sister's from some dude with a really long beard. I thought I'd wait there as she lives closer to where I was going to meet Script Guy. I didn't call beforehand. When I arrived, they'd just left. Mr. Beard offered to drop me at the mall, where my sis and the kids were. Very nice of Beard, don't you think?

He asked for my number, sure, why not! He wanted to know where I lived, which whom blah blah blah ugh! He couldn't drop me by the entrance of the mall because he was meeting his wife, uhm, rather his ex-wife's sister. Whatever liar! By the way, when he stopped to give me the lift, he thought I was a lady he met at some mall a few hours prior. He seemed convinced I was that lady. Or perhaps that's his Modus Operandi. While I was in the mall with the family, Beard called. He called me by some random name. Mind you, I saved my number with my name myself on his phone! He asked if I was still in Braamfontein. I hadn't been to Braamfontein since last year. Still haven't! Looks like he was confusing me with yet another lady. Not the one from the mall, because that mall wasn't in Braamfontein either. He asked if I wanted him to pick me up. When he dropped me off, he did offer to pick me up. I told him I'd be okay, my sister has a car. I just hung up because he was too confused and I didn't need any of that drama.

No call from Script! My sis dropped me off at my place and that was it! No word from him for a few weeks. Out of nowhere, he started calling again, left, right and centre. He was calling at odd hours, 9/10pm. He'd talk non-stop for a good 30 minutes. I can't tell you what about! Not because it's a secret but because it was a lot of nothing really. I hardly ever said a word besides answering whatever questions posed at me. Other than that, it was him carrying on and on and on.

He described himself as very good looking, short, bald WITH LONG DREADLOCKS (don't ask!), coloured (biracial), dark, and really handsome. He couldn't say that part enough times. He wanted to know my star sign. I told him: Aries. He said, 'ugh, Aries! I think we're gonna have some problems! Give me a minute to think, I'll call you back'. He called back and told me, 'you know what? I'll work with you! My mom was an Arian, she drove me nuts but I loved her. She's the reason I am who I am today. I'll work with you!'

He wanted to meet the following Friday. Ugh, here we go again! This time, he wanted me to go to his house. Of course I refused! He also wanted me to hook him up with Nadine Richardson, the singer. I found it interesting that he knew I know Nadine. He told me to give her his number. He had a great offer for her. Friday came. I didn't even bother to go to 7th Street. No word from him...
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My new place!

Monday, 6 Feb 2012

I spent the rest of the weekend at my sister's. The room mate only got
back the next Tuesday evening. That helped a lot as I only got a
chance to move Tuesday night.

I was lucky to find that place. Their tenant moved to Cape Town and
let a friend use the apartment without consulting with the landlord.
The landlord and tenant's friend reached some agreement and the guy
moved out to make room for me. It's a furnished apartment so all I
needed was my suitcase and I was good to go. Oh and bedding which my
landlord was kind enough to supply. My niece helped out. Everything
went really smooth!

Old friends of mine from the Philippines lived there 2years or so ago
so I was familiar with the premises. I visited often, they loved to
sing, like me and owned Karaoke mics. Fun times all around!

I must say I was forced to be creative after realising I didn't have
the basis utensils like can opener. Having to open up a can with a
table knife ain't no fun!

New Job

6 Feb 2012

We worked from the boss' house. It's an amazing house! The old PA (not in age) lives with her husband in the cottage at the boss' house, boss' son lives there and they always have guests from overseas (the US). It's a really big house! We had lunch at work. They told me not to pack lunch for work. They made amazing food. The son and PA's husband are good cooks. Boss baked 2 - 3 different types of muffins every sing morning when she was in town.

I started the very next Monday after the Friday of the interview. During the interview, they couldn't emphasise enough that the boss will fire me at the drop of a hat at any mistake I might make. If I'm lucky, she might let it pass the first time around, but I was not allowed to make the same mistake twice. I was also told not to apologise should I make a mistake, I was to fix it and move on. 'Boss doesn't like it when people act weak, you make a mistake, FIX IT!'. I had one week probation, then I'd either be fired or would stay on. All I heard was Fired! fIred! fiRed! firEd! fireD! FIRED!
I was dying of the stress that put me under! I'd just moved all the way across the country for this job and all I'm hearing is how disloyal these people are. One week! Was that going to be enough for me to grasp everything? They also told me the Boss was forgetful and I needed to know everything she knew so I could help out whenever she forgot something. External hard drive anybody? On hearing all this, I couldn't help but wonder if I wasn't better of with the lower level job I'd applied for initially. By the looks of things, I got a better position as a PA (personal assistant) to this businesswoman/celebrity/everything that I stood a very high chance of losing. Sigh!

I had a headache every single day at work for the first month. There was so much to learn about the business, partners, and and and. I needed to learn the partner's names from the different businesses and their cell numbers, email addresses, fax numbers, office numbers, how they became partners, who their connections were, how long they've been involved for, who their personal assistants were etc etc! Whew! I wasn't allowed to forget anything, or mess up. I tried! It was not without pain though. Not without headaches.

We worked from the Boss' home. I needed to learn her friend's names, where they're from, their spouses' names, kids, the boss' siblings, and and and all this in 5days! I was taking notes, taking them home, studying, studying, studying! My head was bursting! I was dying! I have a great deal of respects for PA's. Being an executive is not a joke! When the partners or potential partners come over for meetings, you have to offer them muffins and something to drink (joys of a home office), take ALL their cellphones and be their PA's as well. Some will go as far as giving you their email login and password for you to check their emails. Here you are with 2 office phones, your own and the other PA's cell (I was still in training so really I was PA to the PA), boss' cellphone, 5 random men's cellphones (most of which had 2 cellphones each) and their emails. All this and you're trying not to get fired because you just signed a 12-month lease for your new place which you adore. Cringe!

The first week went by, I didn't die and I did not get fired! Hallelujah! On to the next week! Boss went out of town for the entire week. Not before they pressured me into really grasping everything as I was going with her and I wasn't allowed to mess up at all because this was a new venture that she needed to make a huge impression in. I tell you, I got a wig (refer previous blog post for my hairstyle), I only wore it when the boss was around or when we were expecting people. Other than that I rocked my dreads the entire time in the office.

I crammed most of what I needed to know the first week. The next week was 'revision' and taking calls, senting out emails and stuff. Practical, so to speak. I created a work email address and linked it to my blackberry as I didn't have my own PC yet. I did most of my 'PC' work on the blackberry.

I lived 5 houses from work, which helped. I didn't need to drive and it was a really short walk. After work, I'd walk up, 3minutes later, I was at my place. All I did was throw my handbag wherever it landed, watched a tv series off the laptop and sleep. That's it. Too tired to do anything else. For the first few weeks, I had no social life at all. Even weekends were work work, either studying or research for the boss.

Pictures of all the lunches I had at work and the view from our office.