This post could have been more accurately titled “the final Friday but the legend (not me) continues.”
I normally don’t blog about work, but I will gladly make an exception for last week. The week started off with a Monday that felt just like a Friday, a few farewell teas and lunches, a brief Computex stint, and ended with a Friday that involved talk about fake Wong Feihong (the Chinese kungfu hero who Jet Li played in those hit Once Upon a Time in China movies) peanuts, “bravecocking” and ended with an alcohol-fueled debate about HR, corporate references, and Taiwan labor laws.
Monday saw half the team out of action starting with the boss who was out all day for something involving his girlfriend. Another colleague was in the hospital, struck down by some common but serious illness that he contracted down south. Meanwhile, a third colleague, a man who I term a legend, stayed away because … as I said, he’s a legend. Monday passed so quickly and smoothly, it felt just like a Friday. I also treated my whole group (not just my own team, but the group which we are part of) and a few other colleagues to free drinks. Given that half of my own team members were out, I saved some money.
Computex was being held during that week, starting on Tuesday, and each member of the team had to work a half-day shift manning the company’s booth. Computex is a huge trade show (supposedly the world’s second biggest) for computers, electronics, and other kinds of tech products held every year in Taipei. You’d think it’s a big deal for us, being an international show held right on home soil, but no, we just had a small presence, almost as if we were just going through the motions and didn’t care too much. I did my shift Thursday afternoon and it went quite decently, though technical glitches and one ignorant exchange (where a white Chinese-speaking visitor got annoyed when I spoke English to him and flat-out challenged me when I told him my English is better than Chinese) did mar the day a little.
Friday was a little bit crazy. There was a team lunch that involved talk of fake Wong Feihong peanuts and “bravecocking,” a novel term that a colleague used to describe an activity related to my upcoming trip to SE Asia, then an afternoon that included a good farewell chat with a friend, and a free scallion pancake and tea from another friend. I am being totally serious when I say that I was more sad than joyful that afternoon. The evening at the company ended with me finishing up some procedures, returning my badge and keycard, and being locked out of my own computer.
The real festivities were supposed to happen after work and things started without a hitch. The usual post-work Friday gathering took place and then the crew split up to make their way to the night’s dinner joint, with most of us taking a taxi. We gathered for an all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner with even the previously hospitalized colleague being able to make it and it seemed like the night would continue smoothly. However the legend decided to put his own stamp on the night and inject some drama by not showing up and not responding to calls or texts. We waited for this guy and delayed our feast as long as we could, but enough was enough and we had to get down to business. All throughout the dinner, people were worried about him so much that someone even proposed calling the police. The meal went well though there was indeed too much talk about the aforementioned “bravecocking” that for some reason I don’t know, many of the guys thought was very apt for SE Asia. “Bravecocking,” Southeast Asia, traveling solo, what’s the connection?*
The meat was good, the beer was good and the ice cream at the end was good.Eventually contact was made with our missing comrade, and after the BBQ, a few of us moved on to meet the guy at his usual haunt. The guy was a little miffed and we rightly gave him some stick about his absence from the BBQ, but unfazed, he proceeded to hold forth about a sermon about labor laws, the role of HR in a corporation, and the right to sue for bad references to conclude the night for us. There was also one priceless quote – “I could be living in the company building itself, and I would still find a way to not come to work.” Amazing.
My colleagues (those who actually showed up at the BBQ, that is) proved themselves to be great human beings, refusing to let me pay for absolutely anything that night, from the taxi ride to the pre-BBQ whisky soda to the BBQ itself to the post-BBQ drink, not to mention giving me a free ride home. All of them are good fellows, well all except that rogue colleague, who being the uncouth, loutish hardcase that he is, refused to let me even take a farewell photo with him. With all that said, I’ll miss being part of the best team in the company. And just like that, my time at D best company in Taiwan ended on Friday after two years and several months.
* Of course I know the reason why, but those people who think my upcoming trip through SE Asia will feature any heavily inappropriate and immoral activities will be seriously disappointed.