Saturday, April 29, 2017

SEVEN LETTERS & A FUNERAL

I recently paid my respects at a funeral of a colleague's loved one. 

As the wreath of lilies was placed at the foot of the cross upon closing of prayer, it reminded me that time is precious and it is important to clearly express myself to those who matter.



***

Letter #1
My nearest and dearest friend on earth, I love you so much. We've been best friends for more than a decade - from scribbling on our desks and painting graffiti on walls (we were naughty kids weren't we?). We've gone through your dad's passing while we still were in high school, my sleeping over at yours whenever I was unhappy, your brother giving us lessons in accounting and economics, lining up timetables in college so we could spend our breaks together, me playing the piano for your sister's wedding, assembling Ikea furniture for your new home. We've been through a lot side by side and I'm looking forward to us growing old together. 

Letter #2
It's incredible how we're so different but get each other so well. When we go to events together, you're always content to hide in the corner while I draw my energy from the life in the room. You comically roll your eyes exasperatedly and turn up your nose at my backpacking tirades and declare that you could never, EVER, understand how or why on earth anyone would want to fly economy rubbing asses with the masses, to live with locals, to trek through rolling hills and valleys of paddy terraces, hike an explosive volcano, dive with sharks, stay in a dorm and share a bathroom with a dozen other people. 'Exercise' is one of your major allergies and you can't bear to go outside without a full face of makeup and your heels. Yet it's those polar differences which keeps our friendship interesting and full of hysterical laughter.

Letter #3
I met you in my previous life as a writer - you were my Chief Editor. You gave it all up to go on to new challenges, I went my way to explore other career paths. I can't believe that today I call you my friend. You showed me that there is more to aspire to in life as woman beyond getting married and making babies. I treasure every moment with you.

Letter #4
My dear cubicle neighbour - you're loyal, trusting, affectionate, funny, good natured, sweet, kind, patient, and the best keeper of secrets. I can't say enough how much I value and treasure our friendship at work. Praise be onto the Cubicle Gods for seating us next to each other. 

Letter #5
You started up a casual conversation while you were in transit through Kuala Lumpur International Airport more than a year ago. It's almost hilarious to think that somehow, we've kept in touch ever since and now talk to each other almost daily - what I shopped online, your door and sink which need fixing, the weather today, what we're having for dinner, etc. Hopefully one day we'll catch up - in person.

Letter #6
Some time has passed and it's been a while now, but I still treasure what you taught me. You taught me that when two people who care about each other want different things - there is no need for hate or bitterness in going separate ways. You showed me that it is possible for a relationship to end well and beautifully. We're on good terms with each other today and whether you find yourself in Berlin, London, Melbourne, Sydney, or anywhere in the world - I wish you all the happiness and success and abundance in life. 

Letter #7
They say there are no bad experiences - only lessons. Thank you for cheating. Thank you for putting me in the position where I had to learn strength and dignity, to make the right decision, to cut you off. Thank you for teaching me to value and love myself, to never settle for being a side piece. I know I am worth more and deserve more than that, and I thank you for teaching me to acknowledge it. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

BABY TALK

As I approach the age where people start getting to THAT stage in life, this topic has come up in more than a few conversations. 

The majority of people are adamant about having kids.

( I am still undecided on reproduction. )

***

When posed the question of why they want kids, common responses are 

“ I want kids because babies are cute “ (My response to that - get a dog.)

“ I want kids so I’ll have something to look forward to. “ (Same as above - or find a hobby)

“ I want kids so I’ll have someone to take care of me when I’m old “ (Annuity - perhaps have a look.)

***

What’s a good reason for having kids then?  

I guess you should have kids simply because you want to, and want to raise them with love - and not with the intention of them serving as gratification to your boredom, nor the motive of them standing in as your retirement plan.

***

When posed the question of when they want kids, common responses are 

" As soon as possible "

" Before the big 3-0 hits "

*** 

When's a good time to have kids then?

In my perspective the responses above are neither right or wrong. However, if I myself weren't in a good place in terms of health, mental state, and finances - I'm not sure it would be a responsible decision to bring another life into the world.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

MY RIDE SHARING DISASTER : HOW UBER & GRAB RESPONDED

Here is the ordeal in its entirety, the aftermath in the following days, as well as lessons I learned.


Image source: vietnambusiness.tv

*** 

THE INCIDENT

It was a rainy Saturday evening in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. 

UBER 

I opened up the Uber app in my phone and hailed a ride. A driver responded and I confirmed. 

I gave Driver A a call and he informed me he was on his way. I waited more than 30 minutes before he eventually he revealed he didn't know the area / couldn't locate me and asked me to cancel my booking. I replied that if it were the case, he should be the one to cancel. He reverted that if he did so then he would be penalized by Uber ; hence it would be better if the passenger (me) cancelled. I did so and was charged Rm5 because it had been more than 5 minutes since I confirmed the ride. 

After I cancelled the first ride, I hailed another Uber and Driver B responded to my request. I then received a call from him enquiring my destination. When I informed him, the following exchange took place 

Him: Oh.. you want to go there.. but it's not on my way. Can you cancel your ride?
Me: Then why did you respond? In that case, YOU cancel it. 
Him: But I'll get blacklisted by Uber. 
Me: Ugghh, fine.

Following the second failed attempt, I try hailing another Uber - and Driver C responded. However to my frustration, the same scenario repeated itself! 

(In the second and third events, I wasn't charged as I cancelled both in less than 5 minutes. However, the inconvenience of the situation made for an extremely poor customer experience.)

Tired of playing this game with Uber, I then turned to another ride hailing app popular in Southeast Asia.

***

GRAB

I hailed a ride with Grab and a driver responded. I requested to be picked up at the Grab booth at my location - he agreed. 45 minutes later and a flurry of calls and messages, turns out he was circling the area and didn't know where to pick me up from. I informed him to use Waze / Google Maps and provided him the name of the restaurant I was at but he insisted he didn't know and asked me to walk to where he was waiting.

Fed up of waiting and this ridiculous back-and-forth, I reluctantly complied and WALKED IN THE RAIN to find this incompetent driver. Multiple calls and messages more - I managed to locate him! I nearly cried tears of relief and got into the car approximately an hour since I booked the ride. After all the drama, I thought that was the end of this harrowing ordeal and I could finally get going.

However, it was not. I arrived at my destination and was about to get out when he stopped me and presented me with a bill of Rm 15 (on top of the original fare). Turns out he had paused at a reserved parking when he was circling about and was charged - now I had to bear his penalty.

I argued but was exhausted after a night out and just wanted to get this done and over with. I eventually paid up.

***

THE AFTERMATH

In the following week, I shared my experiences with both ride hailing services on social media. This is how the parties involved responded.

UBER

In less than 2 hours, Uber had reached out to me to apologize. That day itself, the following actions were carried out 

- Refund the cost of penalty 
- Refund the cost of the ride
- Extra Uber credits as compensation


GRAB

After the infuriating experience, I rated the driver deservingly and also sent an email to their customer support team. I received an email that stated they 'appreciate bringing to our attention' but nothing further.

This prompted me to take to Facebook - however with still no response in sight I escalated to LinkedIn and also tagged their CEO and Founder. That evening, I received a call from the Grab team apologizing and verbally outlining the following actions. (However, it was only a week later that they were carried out.)

- Refund the cost I was charged for 'VIP Parking'
- Refund the cost of the ride
- Extra Grab credits as compensation 


*** 

LESSONS LEARNT

Speak out

This is also a partial reason as to why I am writing this post - more than a few people are asking me about my experience that evening and how things were resolved. As a consumer, it is our responsibility to deliver feedback in  a clear and coherent manner. This is so companies can take this into consideration to educate their drivers, who can then in turn deliver accordingly to consumers - ultimately providing a positive experience for all.

Rampage rants which go " F&$%!! all ride hailing services you all SOBs never taking a ride again MotherF*#@ers! " are of no help to anyone.

Be graceful 

As with any other regular company, ride hailing service do the best they can to screen and educate their employees. However some parties may still be misaligned at times. What you can do is to deliver feedback and let them take necessary action.  

Being a regular user of ride hailing services, I must say that the majority of drivers I've encountered have a sense of ownership and responsibility to do their job well and deliver a smooth and pleasant experience as possible. There may be a few who are the exception to this, but as a whole I find that ride hailing services provide a valuable service to the public and I will continue to use them.