Thursday, April 30, 2009

One quick swoop

I stepped out for a bit. At the last minute, I joined my family for a trip to China. Since my brother's never been, my parents decided to take him on a basic group tour. We haven't had a family trip since who knows when.

At the time I bought the plant ticket, I decided that I might as well since no job offer was near. Suddenly, the day before the trip, I got an offer. I tried to negotiate a little, first on vacation, next on stock options, then on job title, but the HR person wouldn't budge. What I don't understand is that if none of these things are negotiable, then why even ask me what benefits I got at my previous jobs? It would seem she already had her mind made up.

I felt a little at a disadvantage knowing that I was leaving the next day. Normally, I would have liked to mull over the details for a day or two and get advice from friends. Compared to my last jobs, I'm taking a 9% pay cut, one week less vacation, a job title two steps below my previous job, and the rest is about par. On the other hand, my commute is now 12 minutes instead of one hour each way. If one were to count that commute time as part of work hours, I'm making up maybe $10,000 of my salary by being able to sleep in and get home a little earlier (assuming the hours in the office are comparable). I really do want to like this job, it's just a little frustrating to know I could be compensated better. I suppose if I don't like the job, I'll just switch in two years when the economy is better.

It is a relief to know I'll be working again. As much as I enjoy the free time, my mind craves a bit more challenge. I'm the type of person that needs some structure. Every one's dream is to be their own boss, but I'd have a hard time doing that at home. There are way too many distractions.

The trip was pretty good. The biggest concern both me and Tim had was how Mom and I would get along. The thought of being nagged 24/7 for 10 days wasn't appealing. For the most part, she behaved. The one time we had a fight was early in the trip. She came over to our hotel room while my brother was in the shower. We chatted and I mentioned that I hoped to find a little something for Tim. My mother immediately questioned why I would do that. She reasoned that guys don't care and don't need anything. I shouldn't be spending money when I don't have a job. Besides, she felt I already had too much stuff and didn't possibly have any space in the house for more junk.

This really made me mad considering we had just spent the day looking at inexpensive pearls to buy for my sister-in-law. My mom had been asking what my brother had been asked to buy for her. It felt really unfair that we should spend all this time thinking about the shopping list for everyone else and not Tim. After a few minutes of bickering, I got up and told her that I felt she was being totally unreasonable. I never said that I needed to buy something expensive for Tim, it could be something as cheap as $1. Also, I told her this is why I never tell her anything. When I can't even share a simple comment or thought without getting nagged or criticized, there's no reason to say anything. She retorted that she feels it's her right to express her opinion when I'm wrong. Great.

So, I stored out of the room. Unfortunately, I left knowing that I couldn't take the room key with me. It was in the slot that provides power to the room. I wasn't going to leave my brother to shower in the dark. I spent the next 10 minutes wandering the hotel hallways, hoping my mom would go back to her own room. Sure enough, just as I returned to the 8th floor, I heard a door shut. As I walked past my parents' room, I could hear her tell my dad that we had just fought and why. He immediately scolded her for doing so and ask her why she would do such a thing. Her explanation made it sound like she had done nothing wrong and she nervously laughed off the situation. My mom just doesn't get it.

The next day my dad encourage me to find something nice to give Tim. He's great. I don't know how he has the patience for my mom sometimes.

Finally, a couple quick notes about China:

1) Automobiles (especially buses) don't have to stop when making right hand turns; don't assume anything in the crosswalk no matter what the light says.

2) The Chinese have a sitcom which my dad described as their version of the Cosby show. It seemed strange to me to have a show with a family that included three children when Chinese couples can generally one have one. How do people related to the show?

3) The Chinese are learning to use trash cans. There are commercials and billboards trying to demonstrate the idea. As you may know, spitting and other mucus disposal actions are very common. One guy came over to the trash can behind us, pinched one nostril, and proceeded to blow out some mucus. It was not very appetizing. My brother was very disgusted by it all. I said, "at least he put it in the trash and not on the sidewalk." He agreed.

4) Being a flight attendant on a flight to/from China must be one of the worst jobs ever. A large Chinese tour group boarded my plane. When they boarded the plane, they talked loudly and bustled about trying to switch seats with each other. The attendants had a tough time getting them to sit down and buckle in so that we could depart. During the flight they constantly ignored the seat belt sign and announcements, having cell phones on, gathering in the aisles to chat, and using the restroom. During meal services, they never listened to what was being served. For example, the breakfast choices were eggs or noodles. The woman in front of me kept asking for rice. And this group was flying to five different cities during their tour of the U.S.?

5) When it comes to lines, one must be pushy or you'll never get anywhere.


Anna May Won't said...

omg, everything you said is so familiar! as you know, i feel the same way about my mom, that i can't really tell her anything without her criticizing or, nowadays, worrying. she's gotten somewhat better though. and that's really sweet of your dad to stand up for you and encourage you to get something for tim. that's so ridiculous that your mom chided you for wanting to get your husband a little gift! maybe she's a little jealous of tim?

wow, using garbage cans in china! no way! when i was there 10 years ago, you'd NEVER see that, including snot rockets right on the ground (ew). and you're so right about pushy chinese people on the plane! i can totally picture my mom asking for something that was not on the menu.

teahouse said...

When I visited China in 2004, I had a lot of the same issues. The rudeness, the spitting, etc. sound familiar. When I was in Beijing, I slipped and fell in the street, and a group of men walking by pointed and laughed!

And flying to and in China was a nightmare. I flew on a domestic flight, and as soon as the plane landed, people stood up and started opening overhead compartments. It was so annoying!!

teahouse said...

Oh, and congrats on the new job!!!

Lost said...

Ugh! Moms...we love and hate them!

I am laughing about your China flight experience. I think all ABC's (american born chinese) like us have experienced this going over there. It's annoying, hilarious and just unbelievable all at the same time. My favorite is the mad rush for the exit the minute the plane puts one wheel on the ground. Old people push and knock over kids to get in the disorganized queue!