Don't keep me wait­ing, or I will set up my own com­pany

Rachel Arandilla

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Lit - @post­card­pretty FB: /post­card­pretty

"Oh, sorry I'm late," my friend Pierre said the mo­ment he saw me in the restau­rant. "I thought you'd be late," he added sheep­ishly.

He ar­rived 15 min­utes af­ter our planned lunch at 12 noon. I said it was fine, but he seemed ab­so­lutely sur­prised (and a lit­tle dis­turbed?) by my punc­tu­al­ity.

To be fair, both our con­cept of time has been skewed be­cause of the last few years of not see­ing each other. Pierre is a French na­tional and ex­pat based in Cebu for the three years. I, on the other hand, had left Cebu for three years in Manila and the US to fin­ish my grad­u­ate stud­ies.

He has been more ac­cus­tomed than my­self to the Ce­buanos' con­cept of "punc­tu­al­ity" (vir­tu­aly nonex­is­tent), so to see me ar­rive on time was prob­a­bly quite an anom­aly for him­self.

I wasn't the most punc­tual per­son, too I ad­mit. But thank­fully, I have im­proved rad­i­cally since get­ting my­self into the whole Amer­i­can cul­ture of ef­fi­ciency and in­her­it­ing the Amer­i­can "sense of ur­gency."

My French friend has cer­tainly taken a good dose of the Ce­buano chill pill, while I have be­come the more hot­headed one.

The agenda of our catchup quickly evolved into whin­ing about our daily work af­fairs.

When he told me about his frus­tra­tions with his staff, he just chuck­led and said, "She is a typ­i­cal Filipino, she would say things she would do and then won't."

I, on the other hand, could not let go of my last job in­ter­view ex­pe­ri­ence I had in Manila for a big com­pany.

I re­counted to him my ex­pe­ri­ence as I was asked to wait for two hours for the in­ter­viewer. When he came, he did not apol­o­gize, but I could not help but say "you must be very busy." The in­ter­view seemed am­i­ca­ble and suc­cess­ful, but of course I didn't get the job in the end.

No wait, let me ex­pound: the com­pany never got back to me whether I got the job or not, but af­ter a month of no re­sponse, I had fig­ured I had been re­jected. Even if a re­jec­tion email sucks, I think ev­ery­one would agree that it is still bet­ter than be­ing seen­zoned by a com­pany and hop­ing for some­thing that would never come.

I couldn't blame the com­pany for un­pro­fes­sional at­ti­tudes, be­cause it is al­ready so­cial can­cer in this coun­try. No one seems to value other peo­ple's time. My ex­pe­ri­ence was cer­tainly not the first and only time where I was asked to wait for noth­ing, in and out­side the pro­fes­sional set­ting.

In our cul­ture, it seems to be a sta­tus quo thing: the last ones to ar­rive are nor­mally the most im­por­tant ones in the room. The pro­gram will not start un­less the VIPs have ar­rived, even if the rest have to wait two hours.

"It's prob­a­bly be­cause you com­mented 'you must be busy' that you didn't get the job!" Pierre laughed. "So what did you do next?"

"I had two other pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, but like­wise, they wouldn't give me a fi­nal dead­line or of­fer. I was grow­ing frus­trated and was con­sid­er­ing go­ing over­seas again and give up on Philip­pines," but then I read this story by John Gokong­wei Jr. in his bi­og­ra­phy."

When John Gokong­wei was on his younger years as a busi­ness­man, he ap­plied for a loan at a bank and had to wait for two hours for the banker and was still re­jected af­ter that. The shock and hu­mil­i­a­tion of his failed at­tempts so steeled him that he re­fused to fail. Of course, later on, he owned his own bank Robin­sons Bank, along with hold­ings from var­i­ous in­dus­tries from man­u­fac­tur­ing, trans­porta­tion, petro­chem­i­cals, prop­erty de­vel­op­ment and more.

It's amaz­ing to me how this hap­pens to some­one like John. And although I couldn't claim I would get the same suc­cess as John, I wish we could fix these so­cial can­cers in our own lit­tle ways.

I was in­spired by John's story and de­cided also to start my own com­pany be­cause I would never want to treat my clients like that.

Be­cause when there are in­ef­fi­cien­cies, most peo­ple will see them as a prob­lem or hur­dle. But a rare few would see them as a grand op­por­tu­nity.

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