From Disgace, to His Grace

A week had passed after the Incident in my company. If you were wondering - what actually happened? Did anybody die? I could only assure you that there were no casualties involved. No damage done, except that I hate the Gollum whole-heartedly.


Life seemed to get back to its dull, boring and monotonous tone (God, I hope my boss is not reading this). The fun part of life always happens during lunch hour. From gossips, to office teasing, we devour it all up. Who can actually believe that we are young professionals when we still race to the lunch table with our lunch tray just so we can leave the two empty seats to our most-voted 'couple' - Aiman* and Ros*? (*names changed to protect their true identity *wink*wink*)


As the week drew to an end, we received an invitation from one of the managers - would the trainees be so kind as to free up their Friday night to attend the Management Dinner with the Director, the Senior Managers and the rest of managers at one of the hotels in town at 8 p.m.?


We mulled over this idea for a split second before coming back with the reply - Oh yeah!! By the way, what's smart casuals?


So, on Friday night, Anne drove Jane and I to the hotel at exactly 8 p.m. We reasoned out among ourselves - we're girls. It's a valid excuse by itself. C'on, it's Malaysia! Which Malaysians come on the dot?


Of course, half an hour earlier, Aiman had ring me up, sounding fretful.
'Where are you guys?'
'Still at Anne's place. Why?'
'What the...? Nearly 8 p.m. la!'
'It's Malaysia! Not Minnesota!'
'I'll wait for you guys. Don't be late.'
'We'll ring you up once we're there.'


At exactly 8 p.m., we arrived at the hotel and were looking for a parking space when my phone rang. Darn. It's one of the managers.


'Where are you?'
'Hi, Mr. Stan. We're here, but we're still looking for a parking space.'
'Right. Get to level 1, and tell the attendant that you're from our company.'
'Will do so.'


Both Jane and Anne turned to look at me with huge eyes.


'That could only mean one thing. The Director's there.'
We swore individually. Anne parked outside a parking space.
'This will do.'


We made our way to the hotel lobby, scanning the area for Aiman. He was nowhere in sight. We concluded that he could have gone to the restaurant by himself, so we scurried to level 1. I informed the attendant of our company, and he escorted us to the specific room.

The Director was there. Darn, darn, darn. I stopped dead in my track, and tried to get back behind Jane.


'You go first.'
'What? No way! You go, Anne.'
'She's the favourite trainee. She'd go first.'
'What? I'm not!'


As we argued heatedly, the managers spotted us and turned to see us. We stopped, and smiled nervously. Darn. Aiman's missing.


We trooped in, I finally gave up trying to hide behind Jane. My boss was looking at me pointedly, and mouthing - say hello to our Director. I was rooted to the ground, half of me decided to obey this instruction, and the other half just wanted to dive to the nearest available seat.


'Carneyz. Sit here.' Both the Director and the Business Development manager called out to me simultaneously. Unfortunately, it made me even more nervous because they were pointing to two DIFFERENT SEATS at two DIFFERENT TABLES.


Jane and Anne dived to the two available chairs at the Business Development manager's table. FYI, there were only two tables booked that night - one occupied by the Senior Managers, and the other by the managers. I moved forlornly to the seat pointed by the Director and obediently sat down.


All eyes were upon me. >gulp< Director leant back and asked me.


'I heard you're from Sarawak?'
'Yes.'
'From which part?'
'Bintulu.'
'Oh... I stayed in Bintulu a long time ago. I was working with Bintulu Port at that time. It was in 1981.'
I leant forward to tell him innocently, 'I wasn't even born that time!'
The table shook with laughter.
'Oh God. She's here to remind us how old we are already. Probably we should take the hint and retire!'
Much guffaws at which I could only flashed a smile, puzzled. What's so funny about that?


As the dinner progressed, I could only enjoy the Chinese food courses served that night. There were deep fried prawns, soy-sauced chicken, steamed fish, shark's fin soup, and soft, sweet buns which at a later point, Jane explained to be steamed and then fried. Dessert was local fruit served enticingly in the middle of the table.


Around me, the managers discussed their overseas trips, their projects, and subsequently, business opportunities. From the other table, roucous laughter broke up and made me green with envy at the rest. By the way, Aiman finally came when Jane and Anne decided to look for him. Darn the fourth time. He should've been sitting at my place. After the dinner, my friends made me even more envious as they told me that they were talking about Amazing Race, Malaysian Idol, and a host of other reality programs on tv.


When dinner was over, the Director stood up and made a speech. He was happy that we made it to the dinner, we whathecalled 'young people'. 'I promise to you that you will have a good start in your career here, in this company. I can see that all of you have bright future, and might end up as leaders in this company.'


At this, he looked at each of us meaningfully, and his gaze stopped at me. I squirmed. Then, all of a sudden, dinner ended. We trooped out thankfully.


We said our thanks to the Senior Managers and informed them of our intention to leave.


'What? It's still early. Don't tell us you're going back to sleep now?'
We grinned mischievously.
'Who said anything about going back home? We're just leaving... for somewhere else.'
The managers laughed heartily.
'These young people...'


As we left, we made plans to go and watch movie at the cinema. Anne turned to Aiman.
'Oy, you're joining us?'
He pondered over this.
'Okay.'


So the four of us got in Anne's car, and went to the city to catch a midnight movie. Which was a ghost story. As the movie ended, Aiman sat up straight.
'Oh, s**t. I forgot that I'm driving back alone!'
We fell back in laughter at his chagrined face.


At 2.00 p.m., we reached Anne's home, changed our clothes, and crashed on the bed. Ah, blissful...

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