Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My next computer company job and really learning the ropes V

Taiwanese companies are known for things like working a lot of hours, micro-management and listening to the boss - but this company was overdoing its stereotype.

I had used my foreign status in the previous job to go home on time, but this time I figured if I was to be respected I had to beat them at their own game.

“It is 12 0’clock why are you still here?” I asked the graphic designer.

“The boss he doesn’t like this edge and this corner is not lively enough. He wants to see the new one tomorrow morning…No chance to go home.” And he put his hands together flat, tipped his head to the side, then pointed at the desk.

“Ne na? (You),” he asked.

“I was having a meeting with the boss,” I replied. The meeting had originally been scheduled for five 0’clock, but had then been postponed until eight – and it had just finished: 12 midnight.

I looked at the design. This was why I hadn’t gone straight home: I had to send it to a clients in the States the next morning. “Hey, I don’t think you will be able to get it done before tomorrow - Best to notice everyone.”

“Lao ban (boss), say tomorrow, so I have to do it before tomorrow.”

Still I knew I would have to postpone first thing tomorrow morning at the last minute and walked away shaking my head. Most westerners get frustrated and angry because the Taiwanese agreed to a deadline and then when it is not met, accuse the Taiwanese company of being liars or devious. No doubt, sometimes they are being bullshitted but there was often a cultural thing at play: hard work and effort is the way to attain entry to heaven, employees are afraid to tell their boss they can’t do it, and the boss will actually appreciate the loyalty of the employee for trying, and not appreciate his directness by saying he can’t do it on time.

“Take it easy, man,” I said. As I walked off I saw him flick back to the 2nd hand car auction website that would be his companion for most of the night.

The internet is a god send for people in Taiwanese companies - Remember you are rewarded for the number of hours you sit in the office, not the amount of work you do so you need something to do for those six hours a day you are sat at the desk waiting for the boss to go home. Smart people set up their own company on the side; do evening course or online degrees; download MP3s or buy something from eBay; the lazy ones exhaustively check through newspapers and porn websites – A great advantage of local companies is they never bother to monitor the Internet and email usage of their employees meaning – “Fuck off bastard, up your fucking cunt” – will land smoothly in the inbox of the computer on your Taiwanese friend’s desk at work, as will pictures of your favourite porn actress performing, dildos and organs inserted at will.

I know this is a top-down company so everybody follows the boss, but why not organize your time once he has told you?
A day like that day, namely having to hang around in the office for 15 hours - it couldn’t be called work – would leave me lying awake at night wrestling with this question and others; wrestling with why everything was such chaos. Why they didn’t go bankrupt the next day.

I see - the boss is always changing things so you can’t organize your time well. I thought I had a breakthrough, until……So why doesn’t the boss organize his time? – Because he is too busy. Why is he too busy? Because he feels he has to supervise everything….Why does the boss feel he has to micro-manage everything? Yes, the engineers are slow and indecisive, but many are bright so I refuse to accept it cannot be changed - Then the sun would come up and it was time for work again.

The next day didn’t get any better.

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