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[ABOUT YOUR STORY 2015]

Before I begin, I just want to say that I am still accepting entries. I know there are only eight days left, which isn’t a whole lot of time, but if you are able to come up with something, I’d be happy to share it. Otherwise, the project shall return again in the summer, so there’s always that. But for now, onwards to the next entry!

This entry comes from TS over at The PewPew Diaries. In it, he recalls the trials faced when trying to balance work, school, and relationships, and the sacrifices that come with it.

Enjoy.

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“Next time, train your employees better before sending them here,” she said to my mentor, with a smile and an affable tone. If you hadn’t heard her, you’d think we were exchanging pleasantries. Though it was hard to swallow, I deserved it… kinda.

————————

March, 2014.

I’m just 2 weeks into my job as a Support Technician, maintaining and upgrading workstations at a certain company. Pay is decent, job is somewhat fun if you love puzzle-solving, and you’re never overworked. Clock in at 9, lunch break at 12 – 2, knock off at 5. That’s usually the case if I don’t screw up.

Well, then there’s this particular occasion where a deceptively routine case was tasked to me. I almost destroyed a regional manager’s career that day. I was to migrate her workstation to another laptop, which normally just meant copying all the files over and reinstalling all the programs they are to have according to their clearance levels. Little did I know her laptop was a variant, and had relied on authentication to access her some of her most important files. Meaning to say she couldn’t access these files on another PC, even with her own user logged in; it has to be that one laptop, because even cloned systems based on the host would generate a different authentication key and be locked out of files previously secured on the host.

We’d normally have to call in upper management to bring in another guy from another company that provides the authentication software and do the paperwork.

If I had done things as-per-usual, I’d have created a huge mess for everyone. The original laptop would have been scrapped after the migration, and the regional manager would have no way to access the files unless we sent it down to decrypt, which takes quite a while. It’s all sensitive, confidential data, too.

The company (it’s a bank, if it makes things worse) is huge. I don’t know how many lives I could have potentially screwed up that day, but it’s probably a lot.

Fortunately, I ran into a few odd problems that alerted seniors on the company chatgroup, whom then checked with our office and realised I – a rookie, was working on that case. In the end, one of the senior engineers came down after 6 and we worked things out together. It didn’t help that our client was a master at passive-aggressiveness. She uses her words well; sopped in poison and tailored for harm. Confident and imposing in execution, from body language to tone of speech – her calm and steadiness belied a ruthless sea of anger and impatience.  

It was a nightmare being grilled under that pressure, and knowing that from a bystander’s viewpoint our client seems to be rather friendly. She suggested a few unpleasant things about me, and our line of work, but I let it slide because I know I can’t (and shouldn’t) fight back.

At about 9.30pm, we finally got it done. She sent us off with some creatively masked words and paradoxically kind gestures. I stepped out of the building to get a bit of fresh air after more than 12 hours at work. I haven’t eaten dinner, and home is more than an hour away. My brain and stomach hurts; every step I take towards the train station reverberated through my entire body in pangs of pain. I was halfway through dragging myself to the station when I felt my phone vibrate in my pants pocket.

…Oh my god what else could you possibly want, now?

I’m not religious, but in that instance I prayed to every god and deity I knew of to spare me from going back to the office again.

My prayers were answered when it’s revealed to be a Facebook notification, and not a message from the boss or anyone from the company.

It’s from a girl I’ve known for a few years. Let’s call her C.

C and I used to hang out frequently, but never had the chance when she started her school term. She’s good company, and I’m really glad we’re friends – we could talk about anything for an entire day.

I didn’t realise how much I missed C until that day.

Heh. It turned out to be a pretty good day afterall. I’m pretty sure I’m smiling for the rest of that week, too.

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All that happened more than a year ago, with a couple of months to spare. But no, this isn’t about to become a retelling of my summer love life. Nothing worth mentioning ever happened between the girl and I. And heck; it’s so warm around here all year round that pretty much everyday is summer. We have ‘monsoon seasons’ though, which just means more rain.

To some of my peers, I might have a problem.

I’m already 21 years old, with my next birthday coming in about a month. That number is also the number of years I’ve gone without a date. Yeah, don’t even talk about having a girlfriend –  I haven’t even gone on a single date (‘official ones’, anyway).

“So yeah, during the summer before we’re starting school, I kinda realised that there was something missing in my life.”

“Oh?”

“I got myself a longboard.”

“…huh? Dude, you… dude..”

In his defense, I probably should have phrased that whole thing better.

My lovelife is a barren wasteland. My mom doesn’t say anything about it – she doesn’t probe into the relationships of her sons. My friends, though, would occasionally raise the question, especially whenever we get together and talk about life – running from exploding creepers, fighting dragons and chasing skirts. Unfortunately only the latter happens in real life.

Know how your extended families would ask if you’re attached during festive occasions? It’s starting to get so weird for me that my friends’ families are asking me. I know that there’s no shame in failing or getting rejected; my problem is that I don’t even try. While I do have crushes and rarely – fleeting periods of limerence, but I’ve never acted on them.

There are times where I wished there was someone where I can share a moment with. And I think that eventually, I’d like to be partnered with, but it’s not a priority. And as it stands, in my current position I cannot afford the time to. There’s school, which I’m struggling to distinguish myself from the 50th percentile, plus there’s probably a part of it being a self-esteem issue, too.

I no longer remember whether, during all the times I’ve had with C, if I had ever loved her.

I just hope what I’m giving up today is all worth it.

-TS

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