rubbing shoulders with the bosses

Our company had a business meeting last Sunday and Monday. Attendees were top managers from our Japan head office, a couple of engineers from our Kuwait office and their General Manager, and some of the managers and a sales assistant from our office here in Dubai. The only person who I felt didn’t belong in that meeting was me because the topics being discussed were all about our projects, business, and engineering stuff, and I have absolutely no idea about those things. Seriously! Nothing about it is in my job description! But since our Deputy General Manager was the one who included me in the list of attendees, there was nothing I could do about it. In the beginning, I felt that my name was added just so that our Sales Assistant wouldn’t be the only female attending; but later I realized they needed me there because I was the one coordinating and arranging the whole thing with the hotel, setting up the laptop, making sure everything was working and ok, ensuring the drivers arrived on time, etc. In short, all Administration-related stuff (which was part of my job anyway).

Nevertheless, even though I didn’t understand most of what was discussed, I was glad I was part of that meeting...and the delicious meals that we had during the breaks. Not everyone has the chance to meet and speak with top managers from head offices; and years ago, I wouldn’t have had the guts to speak to any of our big bosses, much less joke about my salary with him. Below is a gist of our conversation during the dinner on Sunday. To protect their identities, I’ll just call them GM (General Manager, from Dubai), DGM (Deputy General Manager, from Dubai), BB1 (Big Boss 1, from Japan), and BB2 (Big Boss 2, also from Japan).
DGM: Pamela-san, thank you for your efforts in the preparations for this meeting. BB1 appreciate you very much because of your hard work every time he asks you to make bookings for him. And BB2 also appreciate your fast reply all the time. So, thank you very much.
Me: You’re welcome, sir. No problem.
Colleague: So she’s working for Dubai office and Japan office, sir?
DGM: Ah, yes, yes.
Me: So sir, since I work for 2 offices, I need 2 salaries. I should also receive a separate salary in Yen.
(Everyone laughed)
DGM: Ahhh...You should tell BB1.
(At that moment, BB1 approached our table)
DGM: BB1, Pamela-san was saying something.
Me: Huh?
BB1: Yes, Pamela-san?
Me: DGM, you tell him.
DGM: Hahaha! BB1, every month you ask Pamela-san to change your tickets many, many times, and book your hotel, and so many other things. Because of that, she’s working for Dubai office and Japan office.
BB1: What is it, Pamela-san?
Me: Sir, aside from Dirhams, I need Yen.
(We all laughed then)
BB1: Yes, yes. You have a point. But GM is the boss of Dubai so we need his approval.
Colleague: But sir, you’re higher than GM, and you’re in Japan. He will say “I need BB1’s approval first.”
(Laughter again)
BB1: Hmm...yes, you need Yen.


Just in case you’re wondering, they all had drunk some alcohol that night which is why it was easy to joke around with them. You didn’t think I’d have the nerve to talk to them while they were sober, serious and stiff, did you?!

The evening continued with all the Japanese bosses trying to find reasons why my request couldn’t be considered (it was really fun watching them tease each other) until finally it was time to leave. While everyone was chatting, our DGM called everyone’s attention. I had expected him to say a closing message or whatever, but imagine my surprise when he said “Pamela-san, please” indicating for me to say something. I was really shocked as I thought “Why me? Why not you or our GM?!” All 20+ pairs of eyes were on me, and they all belonged to managers and big bosses! I hesitated for 2 seconds, until words sprang out of my mouth and I could hear myself thanking them for attending, and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, and seeing them again the next day. Whew! I guess it was good enough because one of our Project Managers came to me the following day to tell me that I said a really good speech. Really?!

Anyway, the continuation of the meeting the next day went on uneventfully, and the last of our guests flew back to Japan last night. Another meeting like this will take place in a couple of months, but this time they’re considering to have it in Japan, which for sure I won’t be part of. As for my request to the big bosses, I seriously doubt they’ll give me a separate salary in yen, but at least I said something, even if it was in a half-joking kind of way. And anyway, you never know...I just might receive some Yen the next time they visit.

Comments

  1. i am currently reading the book memoirs of a geisha and i am at the scenario that Sayuri had her first informal party in a tea house, your story joking with the jap. bosses is relative. The Japs like to have good and fun conversation, were you guys drinking sake? :)

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