You’re f**king stupid or what? If you cannot even do such a simple thing then what the f**k did I hire you for?!? Useless!”

Those were the most painful words ever directed towards me at work. I was then a client servicing executive, barely two years in the advertising industry.

What made it more painful and humiliating was the fact that my boss screamed it out loud for the entire department to hear. The people around us pretended not to notice. But you can tell they did. Because all the click-clacks from everyone’s keyboards stopped at that moment. The whole area fell eerily silent.

It felt like the longest 30 seconds of my life, before I was ‘blessed’ with the words “GO AWAY!” to end my misery.

I walked down to the mamak, lit a cigarette, and helped myself to a hot teh tarik.

20 minutes later, I was back at my cubicle, reflecting on what I did wrong, blamed myself for it, swallowed whatever lump that was in my throat, and corrected my errors.

Sure, thoughts of punching her in the face did come up.

It took months to regain my boss’ trust and acknowledgement. I had to make sure that whatever I had to deliver was inch-perfect, on time, and not to put her in a spot when she speaks to her own bosses.

The proudest moment ever?
Many. But I can single out one.

The agency (with the same boss) was tasked to handle an annual dance music festival, and I was part of the team that built the event from ground up, from its communication materials, web banners, direct mail packs, wristband designs, even helping out at the event ground to ensure that the event company set things up on schedule and according to floor plan. And when everyone else was partying, our boss was constantly yelling over the walkie telling us to check on things.

At 1am, our boss radioed in again, telling the crew to meet her behind the main stage. Crap. Something must be wrong.

We regrouped, and she told us to walk up on stage with her, behind Johan Gielen, the DJ that was spinning at that time.

We formed a single file, arms on each others’ shoulders, and my boss told us:

“Look at that. Lights. Music. 30,000 people enjoying themselves. Boys, you made this happen. All of you. From a piece of paper. From nothing but an idea. We brought this to life.”

She then proceeded to tell us “Switch off your walkies. Have fun. We all deserve it. See you guys tomorrow.”


I wonder how many young bloods out there today will feel insulted and humiliated if their boss speaks to them the way mine did in my first para, and throw in the letter immediately, saying “f*ck this shit, I deserve better.”

I’m thinking many will.

They don’t make tough, resilient, thick-skinned people like they used to anymore. The sense of self-righteousness and entitlement has long taken over our young ones. Which, to me, is sad.

Sad because they choose not to stay long enough to witness the beauty in being genuinely commended and praised when you actually do put your stellar performance hats on.

Yes, youngsters, we’re made of tougher-grade materials.

Joe Najib



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