Jun Jie was at the office early on Monday morning and waited patiently for Zheng to arrive and open the agency office for the day. Zheng was uncertain how to deal with the situation and waited to see what eventuated when Mr Wu arrived. If Jun Jie was to be employed she hoped it would be under her supervision so she could show authority. Now there would be someone else to blame if things went wrong at the reception area and perhaps she could get rid of this thorn in her flesh eventually if she acted carefully.
But when Wu arrived he pointed to Jun Jie and indicated she should follow him to his office. Zheng waited apprehensively for the result of that meeting.
Mr Wu sat and looked at Jun Jie considering his next move while she sat impassively waiting for him.
“I’ve decided to employ you and train you myself. He quoted a figure less in wages than they’d agreed to the previous Friday and Jun Jie corrected him. He burst out laughing and nodded his head then wrote a memo to Zheng authorizing the payroll entries.
When Wu gave this memo to Zheng her mouth dropped down in surprise and involuntarily she challenged this pointing to her salary which was much less. This was humiliating!
Wu looked at her threateningly. “If you are not satisfied with your work conditions then you should look for work elsewhere more to your satisfaction.”
He turned and beckoned to Jun Jie to follow and they commenced their work for the day. Wu threw an assortment of problems at her as he sped around inspecting the tour groups personally and watched as she handled those situations. In some cases, he had to correct her but by the end of the day had to admit he’d lucked out in employing a person with a quick mind and the ability to adapt quickly. He’d need to put her in some difficult situations and see how she handled them without his help now.
A very subdued Zheng acknowledged them as they returned in the late afternoon but soon left to supervise some of the most important tour groups evening activities. Wu watched as Jun Jie interacted with the foreign tourists. Then before they parted company late that evening he reviewed her performance making suggestions and criticizing her mistakes in dealing with foreigners. She nodded and acknowledged each error promising to correct these mistakes in future.
He then handed her a list of groups to be met at Changi airport next day. She’d do this alone seeing they were cleared for entry to Singapore, transportation checked in advance, hotel arrangements confirmed and delivered to their destination and booked in. Then back to the airport for the arrival of each of her assigned groups coordinating with guides who’d take over responsibility from her to see they were working with the plan. It was a gruelling task for someone who’d not been weaned into the trade slowly.
What Jun Jie didn’t know was that disguised in appearance and following her in a taxi Wu had arranged for this day he noted her every move checking from a distance with his agents at the airport, bus company and hotels to get a report from them on her performance as it was happening. While some mistakes were made he let Zheng handle these to sort the mistakes out and see what report she’d give on his return to the office in the morning.
Jun Jie arrived home that evening bone tired and a little discouraged. This had been a difficult day and she wondered what feedback those in charge of foreign tours would be channelling into the office. Perhaps the job was too complicated for her limited experience in the trade? Usually she relished her mother’s wonderful cooking but after pushing it around with chop sticks she excused herself and headed for bed setting her alarm to make sure she didn’t sleep in. Tomorrow would perhaps be the moment of truth. Would she still have a job?
Next day Wu arrived at the office and met Zheng at the door from the inside as he heard her opening shop for the day. He asked for a report on the previous day and returned to his office listening for Jun Jie’s arrival. He returned to the front reception desk pointing at Jun Jie. “Please take over at the front desk as I want to consult with Zheng for a while.”
He then pointed to Zheng indicating she should follow him to the office. She followed trembling inside. She’d never been invited to Wu’s office before.
Jun Jie looked at the computer monitor in front of her. They’d only recently been introduced as a large-scale business aid and personal computer tool in Singapore. Jun Jie had one and enjoyed exploring all the capabilities of this new tool. However, she was not familiar with how to use this office system, and she’d little knowledge of a multiple office telephone system. As the calls began to come in one after another she scrambled to deal with them and having seen Zheng make careful notes she did this meticulously for the calls she was able to handle. Her limitations in this office requirement made her even more discouraged and she wondered why she’d not been summoned to Wu’s office.
Wu finally looked up from the meticulous notes Zheng had made. “I see you have some negative issues with this new girl. Can you describe the main concerns you have?”
Zheng straightened up and looked pleased. Mr Wu was asking her opinion. She began to paint a dismal picture of feedback she’d received over issues she’d had to sort out and Wu compared this with his own observations and reports from contacts at the various places Jun Jie had visited as Zheng embellished her report. Wu then dismissed her and asked that she send Jun Jin into his office. Zheng departed looking very pleased with the interview pointing to Wu’s office as she resumed her seat to deal with increasing telephone and customer traffic. Zheng patted herself on the back. She was good at her work.
Wu glanced at Jun Jie and indicated that she should sit down. Then methodically he went through every minute of her performance the day before, stopping to correct where things had gone wrong and making suggestions where things could have been done better. Jun Jie realized she must have been followed and reported on and felt a combination of depression and anger. She sat with eyes averted as she waited for the axe to fall.
“Overall you did an excellent job for your first time being thrown into the daily grind without someone to guide you over an extended period first. I think we are going to get along quite well Jun Jie. I’ll work with you for a while longer to get some of your obvious weaknesses corrected.”
“Now for some of the finer points. You dress quite well and look good, and I intend to use you more for some of the evening events when we entertain important touring personalities. You can be a bit direct at times, so we’ll have to work on that. For example, you don’t refer to foreigners as big noses even though that may be the case. He chuckled quietly as he recalled that one incident. I’m arranging a business credit card, so we don’t have to reimburse your expenses relating to business. I want you to visit this up-market dress salon and Mrs Chin will guide you in the selection of appropriate clothing for evening wear. I’ll give her a call in a few minutes telling her the limit and will settle this myself while we wait for your card to be approved. You’ve already seen my partners come and go so you’ll have to be introduced to them and their wives formally soon. I’m taking a chance on you Jun Jie as I see you have great potential for the partnership. Now please go and see Mrs Chin at this address and then take the day off. Come back tomorrow ready to really work hard and prove my gut feeling about you has been correct. I’ll be watching for that good fortune to come to me! You will certainly have to earn this by your hard work” He laughed pleasantly.
Jun Jie was immediately lost for words and felt tears welling up in her eyes, but soon recovered and stood up respectfully bowing to Wu. “You’ll not regret this Mr Wu, I will be the hardest worker in your employ.” She bowed respectfully again backing out of the office as she went clutching the card to Mrs Chin’s salon.
Zheng looked up smugly expecting to see Jun Jie slink out of the office looking distraught, but her look soon turned to puzzlement. Jun Jie marched out standing straight and looking happy as she sped out the door.
Wu pulled Jun Jie’s file out of the top drawer. The detective had done good work. Her family history was very detailed and precise. Reports from neighbours and the office administration where she’d contracted as a cleaner were glowing, the only sour note was from the hairdresser where she’d done apprentice training. He lingered on their remarks and smiled as they described her demand for a higher wage. She also received a glowing report from her school.
He reached to phone Mrs Chin his neighbour. She and her husband had been very good to him since his wife and child had died in childbirth. That had been ten years ago he mused, he was now thirty-six and it was time for him to move on. Jun Jie was twenty-four, quite a bit younger, but one never knows what fate has in store. He reread a comment from Jun Ji’s neighbour. “Jun Jie and her mother are very good cooks!” He remembered his wife’s good cooking.
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