Monday, August 06, 2012

"You treat me like a dog"

 25 April 2012

Favourite Cake Ever! Bar One Cake

2nd birthday cake, Caramel, not much to blog about

Just after my birthday, i got a call from an old friend of mine, not the one I was going to move in with. Let’s call this friend NS and the other one ZS. She got a new job and was stood up by someone that was going to host her until settled down. I picked her up at the bus stop, we went over to mine and reminisced. She’s a good, genuine friend, I love spending time with her.
KFC and Chicken Licken! That's what happens when you shop on an empty stomach

I moved out of my apartment, the last week of April. I tell you, I’ve called more than 25 places home in my entire lifetime and that was the hardest good bye (to a home) for me! I cried! I was overwhelmed with emotion, you know? It was a lot of things, I’d only been back home for a month, from Georgia, which was another roller-coaster, when I had to move to Johannesburg, 2months later, I had to move again. There was just too much uncertainty around me, too much instability. Of course, I had no intentions of staying with a friend forever. It was nice to kknow that i had a place to stay until I figured out my next step. I am not one to depend on people, even though, my friend needed me there for the diet thing, for those that didn’t know, I was Miss Weighless  Gauteng year 2002. I know! I know! I know! J
My family calls me The Queen of Junk Food. I wonder Why?

I moved in with my friend on a Wednesday or Thursday.  We weighed ourselves on Friday and got started eating right! We weighed ourselves every Saturday since then. A week since moving in with ZS, Her friend who is a doctor was looking for a receptionist for his rooms. My friend told me about it, she had already told the Doc that She knows just the person for the job, unfortunately my US plans were under way, I was going to leave in a month or two. Even though,I was excited to be working, about the idea of having something to do while waiting impatiently for my US plans, I felt like taking on a job was so stable,as if I was intending to stick around for a while. We agreed that Doc would hire someone else and have me train that person as I have tons of experience in that field.
The two on the left are my Hard drives, the other 2 ex boss' 

I got the job! Well, I only found out 4days later! Fourways is not a place for pedestrians! I had to walk 30 minutes to the boom gate, we lived in a gated community. Then hail a taxi to work. I worked in Carstenhof Clinic from May onwards. My boss was a gem! The best boss anybody could ever ask for! What a breath of fresh air from the monster I worked for previously! It was just Doc and I in the rooms (well, and the cleaning lady who came in once a week, she was sweet too, we got along), he had his own room, with a consultation room, my  office, the waiting area and some type of a conference room. The rooms were amazing! So gorgeous! He has great taste too! I had wonderful times in Carstenhof, I won’t lie to you! Best few weeks of my working life! I looked forward to being at work. 
My niece and nephew say I'm a hippie from how I sometimes dress

I got paid end of the month! Whew! First actual salary since Georgia! Thank goodness!
At home, I lived with ZS, her daughter, the lady taht looks after the daughter, let’s call her P. Just the four us. ZS had friends over a lot though, so there were always lots of other people, which didn’t bother me, some of the friends, I knew, some I didn’t but they were nice people.  I had to give living with ZS a great deal of thought as I didn’t want it to ruin our friendship, we had been friends since 1989, so yeah. You don’t want to mess that kind of friendship up!
ZS’s place has 2 lounges, P and the daughter use the one lounge to watch TV and stuff, I used the other one because we liked different shows, I enjoyed DSTV channels, P liked SABC stuff and Nigerian movies. I didn’t want them changing the channel  for me when I could just use the other TV. I try and stay out of people’s way when I live with new people, so that i don’t cause any unnecessary awkwardness.
I bought and prepared the diet meals myself, P was handling hers and the kid’s. I noticed that whenever they ran out of stuff, she wouldn’t tell her ZS instead, she would take some of the diet stuff. That was so frustrating because when I did grocery shopping, I had already pre-planned what I would cook for the weak. It came to ZS’ attention, she suggested, we keep our diet stuff in a separate cupboard. Even though i didn’t want it to come to that, I thought that was fair.
One Saturday, I went to the kitchen and found the cooking oil that was in our cupboard all messy, with oil all over the bottle and you could see it had been used:
Me: P please, can you not use the stuff I buy for ZS and I?
Me: Any and everything I get for us, if you run out of things, please let her know of do like you used to before I got here.
Me: It seems like you’ve had isues you needed to address with me for a while, I wish you had sat me down and talked to me about them because now you’re  taking something really innocent and turning it into something it’s not-
Me: I’m not having this conversation with you right now. Anyway, you got the message. ( I told her walking away to my bedroom. The daughter was watching TV with her friend in the lounge, we were in the open plan kitchen right next to them, P was yelling at the top of her voice).
I went to my bedroom and closed the door behind me. She budged in, crying, pointed at me and yelled and yelled and yelled. I got up and told her she can have the room if she wants it because I am trying to get some privacy from her and she just wont let me. I left and closed the door behind me, with her inthe room.
She came out, howled and howled, crying, and talking on the phone. I overheard her saying she couldn’t stand living under the same roof as me any longer, she couldn’t stand the way I treaded her and wanted to leave. She wanted whomever she was talking to on the phone ( I assume ZS) to send her a car, she was leaving. Her closet was in my bedroom,  (so Georgia, right? ) she went in there and started throwing her clothes on the floor, crying. You could tell she was fuming.  I didn’t like where the whole thing was going. I had to think. Fast. I opened my side of the closet and went, “you know what? Stay, I’ll move out! You can have this room”
ZS gave me that :)

I had promised the kids I’d drop them off at the movies. The daughter overheard P telling someone over the phone that I was moving out. She (daughter) came running to me crying, she begged me not to leave, telling me I’m like a mother to her. That touched me. I dropped them off at the movies, went back home, packed my suitcases. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve packed in the past year. My gosh! When P Saw me packing, she stopped. USA trip was around the corner, I had to be packed for that, so packing wasn’t a waste of time J . I didn’t see ZS for the next 2-3days, even though she did come home. That made things awkward! I was looking forward to discussing the whole thing with her. I had already secured a place to crash, with NS should I end up having to leave, of course, I wasn’t going to wait for ZS to kick me out but I would read between the lines. If I had had a chance to talk to her, but not seeing her, wasn’t helping. I also didn’t want to force her into talking about something she wasn’t ready to talk about because She came to my room every night after work when she came home, this time she didn’t. I assumed she needed spave and I gave it to her.
The Niece and The Nephew

ZS and I kinda talked about this a few days later, I had to give her a summarised version of my side as she was rushing to work. I was over it by then anyway.
Just before I left my Melville apartment

last meal before the diet

The day I cut my dreads, what a mission to undo all this

Sorry Brook, I don't have money to pay you this month

April 2012
Our office, they didn't have a pc for me, I used my own

The job in China fell through. Back to the drawing board. Good thing I hadn’t told my colleagues or anybody about it really. Only my family knew. I secretly wanted to go to China even as a tourist to see for myself if I couldn’t get a job whilst there. I had talked to a few people that teach English there, they told me it’s not hard finding a job once you are there in person. I was tempted. But I had to play it safe.
By this time, I’d been working for my boss for 2 months.  I had been on probation for my week whereby they’d see if I got along with everybody as I was the only outsider in a family company. Everybody  was a breeze to work with, except for the boss, but she wasn’t always there.
By the end of the month, they asked me if I was going to need any money, if so, how much. I found that interesting because I had worked my hinds off all month proving to them that I was an asset to the company. We had talked about the salary at the interview. I told them that I would have been happy with whatever salary was market related. They had a PA (Personal Assistant), they had to know what was market related for a PA. You’d think! I told them that I was renting an apartment, I had to pay rent, groceries, insurances etc, and I had bills to pay! They told me this was a permanent job, of course I went and signed a lease for the apartment! Boss was out of town. She called me.  Normally she was very mean to me on the phone or in person for that matter, so much for a pastor and a life coach. She was so nice to me that time around on the phone. She asked to speak to the old PA. Thereafter, the PA told me that there was no money to pay mu, but they had R1 500 (less than $200) COUNT IT! For   Ice Cream. They would pay me a salary the next week. I had bills to pay and no time to be buying R1 500 worth of ice cream! I went home so confused. Wondering what would happen next. What if they didn’t pay me the following week and the following month! Whew! So much for getting a new job. I went over to my sister’s to chill. I needed to be around people that cared about me.
The view from the dining room/conference room

Boss kept calling to confirm my banking details, she wanted to deposit the ice cream money. She was so nice to me the entire time on the phone.
My landlord was a journalist, she was very nice to me. I lived next door to them and 4 houses from my work, which was also the boss’ house.  She worked from home. I told her about my work situation. She told me she was willing to help me put my boss on blast if I gave her some material to work with. I thought I’d give them until the following week, to see if they would fulfil their promise. The following week, I got R700 from the Boss’ son, he told me that’s all he had in his account. PA’s husband who also works there, had a long, meaningless talk with me one day on my way home. He told me that he knows what it’s like to be in my shoes: to struggle to make a living (WTF’s dude talking about? I’ve got a job! They just won’t pay me! There’s a difference!) He told me how he used to be a waiter, homeless, sleeping in public toilets. I was thinking this dude had better not be suggesting I should move out of my comfortable apartment and go sleep in public restrooms, seriously now!
All I got for the rest of my second month at work where promises that the company was expecting millions of rand, and I’d be paid then. NEVER HAPPENED!

Conference Room/Dining room

In March, my second month at the company, I was kind of offered a promise of a better job: Human Resources of the Bloemfontein Plant. Go figure! This people can’t afford me a PS’s salary, now they want to promote me! How much more money do they want to not pay me? I had to spend days on the internet doing research and things for my new position. I was booking flights for the boss to fly all over the country. Here I am, still waiting for the rest of my salary for the previous salary and this woman is gallivanting all over the show. I booked deluxe hotel rooms for wedding attendance, and all sorts of things. The telephone bill came and she paid R1 000 ($125) extra. I was like, are you kidding me? Why doesn’t she give that to me! The following month, she did the same thing, paid extra for the telephone bill. I just didn’t get that! The entire month of March, I was so discouraged and angry.
Two days before payday, boss lady, who had been out of town for weeks called and spoke to the PA. She told her that they didn’t have money to help me out with my bills, she suggested I move in with them. She would pay me the following week. I told her, even though I’d love to move in with them (which I wouldn’t have), It was two days before my rent was due, I’d have to give my landlady more notice than that, two months to be precise. She said, well try anyway, don’t tell them the real reason, just tell them that something came up and you have to move out urgently. Uhm, ok Reverend, I will do that! I’ll go and lie to my landlord who has been nothing but nice to me! Who has also agreed to help bring you down should you not pay me again this month. 

The following day, I don’t them that the landlord doesn’t mind if I stay or not, as long as I pay them for the following two months as per lease. They were like, ‘What?!?!?!? What exactly did you say to them?!?!?!?!?” I was thinking, it seems as if this is not the first time these people are doing this. It looks as if it’s worked for them every single time but this time around. That’s why they were shocked. Oh well!  The boss told me what my salary would be from that onwards, unfortunately she would only pay me the following week, a week late. My question to the PA was, if they knew for a fact that they were going to pay me the following week, why should I move out of my apartment? I could just ask them to wait a few more days and that’s it. Right? Wrong!
Stairway from our office to the Boss'

I was so stressed out, my whole body hurt, I had headaches that wouldn’t go away. I still had Georgia on my mind, that was a disaster, and now I am here this is not so much of a great experience either! Should I go to China? So many thoughts on my mind! Should I quit? I just moved here from the Eastern Cape! Should I go back there and job-hunt until I find something else? Should I stick around? Will they ever pay me?
I put in notice at the flat while I was on a week’s leave. The PA who was going to fill in for while she was on maternity was still working. For some reason, the baby was not coming. The due date came and went. While I was on sick leave, they deposited R4 000 ($500) into my account. Still not enough, in fact, that plus the money they gave me the previous still didn’t cover the pay they promised. I cut my losses and quit. It was hard, I loved everyone I worked with but couldn’t shake the feeling this was just a cult where they reel you in with their kindness and never ever pay you. All you get is kindles from Boss lady every month end! Sadly, that didn’t pay the bills. Everybody didn’t understand why I quit. It’s like where the heck do these people come from? I don’t offer volunteering services! I need to get paid! I spent the entire month of April, job hunting, going for interviews, applying for jobs abroad, the works.

I bought myself a new laptop a week before payday thinking I was going to get paid

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. »» 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.