OUTLOOK — By Majed Al Sulaimany — It was a new great learning opportunity and awakening for me this week when I visited this company clinic for my usual diabetic check-ups and when I met some fellow patients. What followed next was in eavesdropping on conversations — before I got drawn in inadvertently!
There are two versions of the story — or two sides of the same story. As I sat there I met these young Omani youngsters who had come for a medical check-up after passing interviews for their jobs. One of them was coming after some years in a neighbouring Gulf country. As usual with us Omanis there are no barriers when discussing in the open things hidden in your chest — like salary packages — because you do not know who the ‘enemy’ is out there, even that smiling fellow!
One of them was talking loud enough for the rest of us to hear. It was not bragging but the usual honest self. He was 'returning home' even if the package here was considerably smaller than what he was getting there, including the now being missed company provided accommodation. He was talking about how much he was going to lose overall and on 'patriotism and nationalism' and his own and family future!
Then 'the more brighter one' talked about his family businesses — but he was coming in just for the free housing loan being provided by the company and to gain some field experiences before his 'rich family' gives him a company to run or open his own about which he had some ideas!
The last one was like poor me, saying his family were pinning their hopes on him because he was the only boy working. His elder sisters were all married — one was an engineer from the local university but she was doing a non-engineering job, though the pay was good. He added cynically that her husband was now enjoying the fruits of their labour! But that is our way, nothing is sacred and confidential — all out for the rest of the world to know.
I have always said that this is the way our adversaries use the information as a weapon against ourselves or even to cause divisions and discord between us!
Anyway, I was paying more attention to this young girl (foreigner and about five years old) talking to her mother who was working as an engineer at the place. Too bad she did not understand the conversations, particularly this part of a qualified local engineering girl doing 'non-engineering' work as the 'only job offer she got'!
You may remember the incident I had written on how I fought for a similar case when I was in human resources. I was actually propelled into action when this poor girl lamented 'that nobody is helping us, even those from our home town who are influential because we have no wastah! I had told her that my grandparents were born there so I would help you! On hindsight it had cost me my job and the new local partner of that company, who took over the business later was pleased to see me go so he could bring in his own kind in! But that is another story!
So this young girl was talking ‘all kinds of rubbish’ of what she would be doing in future and her mother was patiently listening! The young girl was talking loud for the rest of us to hear but it was only me listening — the rest were in their own world! That should teach us, especially in dealing with our own daughters, sisters etc, in society!
As a father of three girls — 2 twins — I am fully aware of how girls 'like to talk and ask inquisitive' questions and end up like the lamenting girl that there is no one to help. But then big boys also talk rubbish — like the one I was encountering.
So when I had the chance I told off ‘the rich boy’ with my usual diplomatic style! It was none of my business anyway but M is just like that he will say ‘I will not get involved’ but he does in the end! I told him if I were still in HR and I hear you talking about your plans (about the housing loan and experience) then there would be no job for you, even if you were top ranked.
Sure enough, used to his kind of talk he curtly replied: “I came second but the top guy had already turned down the offer and so he was the only choice left”. Then I cruelly cut: The company could advertise again! That seemed to silence him for a while!
This week my youngest daughter started working as an engineering graduate. Her interviewers were asking her if there would be some trips to the Interior where you have to stay overnight sometimes. Would your father object?
My daughter replied: “My father will himself take me to the airport for the trip to the interior desert oil location”! It was the mother instead who did. But when you have only one old car left with you and madam is still working — what the heck! There is nothing you can do but watch before the suitors file in for ‘a good catch in girl and salary’ — as the young boy had lamented about his elder sister!