Blog Archives

As I Grow Older

old

* The above image is taken from HuffPost.

Earlier today, I overheard a conversation between 2 young boys at the park.

It went something like this.

Boy A: xxx is really too much! I am sorry to say we are no longer friends!

Boy B: But… xxx’s our friend for so many years already. You also know what he’s like…

Boy A: I don’t care! There’s no need for us to be friends with some people!

Well, obviously, nobody would name their child after a porn site. I just used “xxx” to protect the identity of the child who’s about to lose two of his friends. Anyway, this conversation set me thinking. I thought hard about my youth, the younger Teck Yong who didn’t give a damn and could easily befriend strangers or sever existing relationships on a whim.

Back then, I felt young and adventurous. The world was a more exciting place and it looked like opportunities lurked everywhere. Drinking at a pub in London might get me a couple of good friends. Walking into a bookshop at San Francisco might let me meet the girl of my dreams. And they were interesting people, the cosmopolitans in London and San Francisco. We spoke the same language and shared the same political ideals and it’s so easy to meet many of them outside of Singapore.

So because I had both the energy and time to go on plenty of adventures, it became easier to meet all sorts of interesting people. And because it was easy to meet new friends on a regular basis, it also became easier for me to forget old friends. Read the rest of this entry

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The Problem With 24-hour Guards

So this morning, the regular day guard didn’t come. Because today’s his one off day per week. So the agency had to send in a replacement, right?

And so the manager thought it would be perfectly alright to call in a night guard who’s been working the night shift on the other side of the island. So that means this dude is pulling a 24-hour shift even as I am writing this blog post.

And obviously, since he had a night shift to complete and he’s on the other side of the island, he came in late. I was supposed to be relieved at 7 a.m. but the night guard came in at 8.30 a.m.

When I called the manager to ask about the day guard’s replacement, he told me, in a jovial tone, to claim O.T.

Why the f**k should I claim O.T.? I am already working 12-hour shifts for 72 hours per week! I need LESS hours, not more!

Anyway, when the day guard’s replacement came in at 8.30 a.m., I told him, “I am going to come in at 8.30 p.m. tonight because I don’t do overtime.”

The day guard’s replacement actually got indignant when I told him that. He tried to explain why he’s late.

“I was at Tuas! I need time to get here…”

“I am the only one who can do this!”

Yeah, I KNOW. I know how long it takes to travel from Tuas to our workplace. BUT if you knew that as well, then you shouldn’t have agreed to come in to replace the day guard! Why would you want to inconvenience someone else just so you can earn more money for yourself?

Have you ever considered that there are people who don’t want to wait an hour and a half for you to arrive? Have you ever considered how dangerous it is to ride your motorcycle on the road after completing a 24-hour shift?

HAVE YOU SPARED A THOUGHT FOR OTHERS?

However, I told him that I wasn’t angry with him. I was angry, and rightfully so, with the manager for arranging this. The manager already knew the day guard takes every Sunday off, so he should have arranged for a proper relief guard to come in every Sunday! And not make some overly enthusiastic guy work 24-hour shifts!

The manager* and the 24-hour guard both need to think hard about how they are inconveniencing others and endangering lives. Mark my words, and mark it well! Security guards have died in the past due to overwork, and they will continue to do so if this industry continues to turn a blind eye to 24-hour guards.

Loh Teck Yong

* I have always called him the manager, but the regular day guard told him his actual title is Senior Operations Executive. Oh well, whatever.

They Kept Their Promises

A few days ago, I made a blog post about my agency. I said that they might be breaking 2 out of 3 promises they had made when I first signed up with them.

Things have been a bit hectic recently so I haven’t found the time to post updates. But tonight is my only off day this week, so I have some spare time.

Here’s an account of what happened on 14/11/17 (Tuesday).

When I reached the train station near my work site, I went to an ATM machine to check my bank balance. And I found an extra 200 dollars in my bank account! Okay, that means they kept their promise to pay me a weekly advance every Tuesday.

And when I reached the work site, the day guard told me the manager had came down earlier with my uniform. Good. They finally managed to keep their promise to provide me with 2 pieces of uniform.

So far so good. I hope this good behaviour keeps up.

Some of you might think that I am being too skeptical, but I have seen too much of the ugliness of men in my line of work. Too many security guards have been abused or scammed by their employers, so there is no way I can trust an agency blindly.

Especially one that still HASN’T given me a copy of my contract.

Loh Teck Yong

They Are About To Break The Second Promise

So when I showed up for work last night, I found out that the manager had broken his 1st promise yet again. The promise was to provide me with another uniform because I was supposed to get two. When he failed to deliver them to the workplace on Friday, like he had promised during my job interview, he assured me it would be sent down on Monday.

Okay, fine. I could still put up with it. I asked for permission to wear a white shirt instead of the official black polo shirt, and it was granted.

And then he told me he’s going to break his 2nd promise. Which was to pay me a weekly advance of S$200 every Tuesday. Since he had been breaking the 1st promise, I figured it would be safer to remind him about his 2nd promise.

What he told me was: “But you only worked for us for 4 days. We can’t pay you an advance yet.”

What the f**k? Did he mention this at the job interview? Did he say I had to work for a minimum number of days before I could get my advance? NO! What he told me was that there wouldn’t be any problem paying me a weekly advance of 200 dollars every Tuesday.  Read the rest of this entry

They Broke Their First Promise

Will I have trouble with my new job?

It appears so. When I took up the job, the agency promised me 3 things.

First of all, I would get 2 uniforms. But they only had one in my size when I went for my interview so the manager promised to send my second uniform to my workplace on by Friday.

Well, I went to the condominium on Friday, but there was no 2nd uniform waiting for me. When I called the manager, he said they could only send me one on Monday as the office’s close during the weekend.

Their second promise to me was that I would be receiving weekly wage advances (S$200) every Tuesday. This coming Tuesday, we will be able to see if they can keep their second promise.

The third promise is a monthly salary of S$2040 (gross). To find out if they will honor that promise, I will have to wait till the 7th of December. I never did receive a copy of my employment contract so I can’t be absolutely sure they will keep this particular promise.

3 promises but they already broke the first one the moment I started work. I think I might be able to have that new chapter for my book after all.

Loh Teck Yong

I Am Sorry, Hee Young

korea

During the late 90s in Singapore, because Facebook hasn’t been invented yet, I made pen friends of the pen and paper variety.

And among the people I exchanged letters (not emails) with, there was a girl from Korea. She liked Chinese idols like Andy Lau and enjoyed reading Slam Dunk, which was popular in Korea at the time. And she would always tell me interesting things about her country. Corresponding with her should have been a fun experience.

However, because I couldn’t understand Korean and her English was not too good, I found it difficult to read her letters. I felt it was a pain to have to read her letters, make something out of them and then write proper replies in proper English that she might not even really understand. So one day, I simply stopped replying to her letters.

She kept up her letters for a while but, after a few months, she realized what was going on and sent me a tearful letter. She wanted to know what went wrong? Was it because of her bad English? Was it because I didn’t like listening to her talk about Korea? Why did I stop writing? Read the rest of this entry

A New Chapter For My Book?

chapter

* The above image is from Quid Pro Quills.

So, I am already back from my job interview. It’s 1.35 a.m. in Singapore right now so technically, I am talking about the interview I attended yesterday.

It went well but, on the other hand, it didn’t.

It went well because I got the job the moment I walked in. I was told to fill in an employee form and that’s that.

They even offered me a salary that’s higher than I had expected.

So why, did I say, it didn’t go well when seen from another angle?

That’s because I was so nervous during the interview that I just signed everywhere they told me to, without reading carefully.

Well… That wouldn’t be as dangerous as some of you might think. The security agencies here use the same format for their employee forms and contracts. More or less.

There’s more. It was only after I left the office when I discovered that I never did receive my copy of the employment contract. Nowadays, most agencies do hand a copy of the employment contract to their employees. Maybe it’s not the practice of this particular agency? I checked their background on the internet, and according to their webpage, they were established back in 1970s. That might explain their way of doing things. Some of the agencies I worked for between 1999 and 2003 never did give me copies of my employment contract either.

But because I don’t have a copy of the contract and because I don’t recall signing anything that says how much I should be paid, I am worried.

Still, I did manage to wrangle a promise (verbal) from the manager to pay me weekly advances. $200 per week. Payable every Tuesday. So we will know next Tuesday if they are honorable and honest.

The job seems easy and will allow me to write on the job so I will gamble a bit.

I am also a little excited. Like what if they go back on their word and refuse to pay me my weekly advance? Wouldn’t that give me the opportunity to “promote” the agency on the internet? Guards Gone Wild! is basically a whistle-blower’s account of the the security industry. It’s unpublished because it has been rejected by the publishers in Singapore but if something like an agency scamming my pay comes to light, that might give me the chance to turn around and tell those publishers:

“See? I did say more people need to know about the scams going on in this industry. That way, less people will get cheated.”

And my book gains a new chapter.

Loh Teck Yong