Week 5 - Things i realised

How I survived MCO

I have to admit; weeks four and five of the Movement Control Order (MCO) have been especially hard. Despite the daily conversations through video calls or phone calls with my family members, I feel very isolated. And it doesn’t help that I live in a condominium instead of a grounded property—at least a grounded property would give me some space to move around. I MISS GOING TO OFFICE. I MISS MY CUBICLE. I MISS MY BOSS AND COLLEAGUES. In fact, it’s even gotten to the point where I miss driving and the horrendous KL traffic jams too. While I have not begun talking to the tables, chairs, and walls at home, I wouldn’t mind engaging them in a conversation—if they would give me a reply—preferably one that doesn’t start with, “When will this MCO end?”

The reason these two weeks have been especially hard is because now I have some time for self-reflection. With no one to talk to at home, I am left with my own thoughts that need addressing. As the saying goes, ‘An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop’. On a personal level, a few issues that are out of my control have disrupted my peace of mind. In addition to this, there are many plans and potential achievements for the year 2020 which are now placed in the KIV list. Since they are out of my control, the lack of a solution leaves me feeling very helpless. It’s starting to feel that the year 2020 will just go to waste. I know we need to wait this out and flatten the curve but patience is not my strongest virtue—I admit that. So, it seems that COVID-19 and the MCO are ‘stuffing’ patience into me by the truckloads whether I like it or not. This is a battle between what the heart wants and what the mind knows.

I have kept myself busy; don’t get me wrong. My day starts with the daily office tasks—replying emails and responding to all queries sent to me. There are also numerous office meetings to attend. In addition, our Human Capital as well as Corporate Communications departments have organised many beneficial programmes for us during this MCO. I participated in numerous 1-hour online training sessions/podcasts—both professional and technical—ranging from talks on financial education, leadership, and embracing the new norm to personal wellness such as gaining peace of mind in challenging times as well as workout and yoga classes (psst… my knowledge on certain never-used-before MS Word functions has improved too). Adding on to all this, I cook, do household chores, read story books (finished six fictional books so far), work on my paintings, read Malaysian and international news daily, and watch TV to end my day. On the plus side, there is a routine that has built over these past five weeks, and work hours are pretty flexible. On the down side, despite the day being filled with activities, it is not fulfilling— something seems missing nonetheless. After much thinking, I realised the missing link in this equation, and that is the face-to-face human interaction; we are social creatures after all.

In the first week of MCO, I was painfully made to realise that house arrest is indeed a punishment. Now, I have come to a realisation that while working from home is the way forward and the new norm, it also takes some getting used to. So let me share some funny/sweet things I have noticed and some things I have learnt:

1) All colleagues are happy to see each other in online meetings—it’s always a round of smiles fit for a toothpaste advertisement.

2) The #LuarBiasa spirit is alive and well as evident in our online office meetings—we are even decked out in our corporate shirts or AKPK polo shirts.

3) Internet connection plays a very important role at this time. As usual, it works just fine until you have some training/meeting/con-call/video-call to attend when Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong will go wrong—takes over.

4) Bad internet connections do not discriminate. This causes some to sound like Autobots from the movie—The Transformers—and almost always, the video will hang at the most unflattering moment. Bosses are not spared from this either!

5) Thank you, IT Team. Your dedication dramatically reduced the frustrations I had with the new video conferencing softwares.

6) There will always be a colleague who is suddenly interrupted by their adorable child/pet during the conference calls.

7) We get very happy when we get to set different background images for our video calls. It’s universal; don’t ask me why ?

8) There will always be someone who says, “I cannot hear you”, or does the ear fanning gesture to tell you that they cannot hear you.

9) Some people forget that ‘mute mic’ and ‘turn off camera’ functions exist.

10) When joining a webinar or online training session, I find that it’s better to turn off your camera and mute your mic; it helps with the bandwidth. Of course, this is not applicable if you are the presenter.

11) I have been exposed to the use of many video conference softwares.

12) Many colleagues are quick to give a helping hand when you are stuck with something—the solutions given are on-point and speedy.

13) When your gadgets are not working the way they should, the “magical” next step is to power off the machine/gadget and restart. This usually fixes most of the problems—the hardworking elves in your computer get a few minutes of break too!

This MCO has also thought me to be grateful for the many things I have taken for granted. It’s a given that I do not enjoy cooking but I have never had to wonder if I will have my next meal. Out there right now, there are families going to bed hungry. However, I am proud to say, as is always the case when the country is faced with a difficulty, Malaysians from all walks of life step up and show that humanity is not dead in the country. We read about Malaysians donating either cash or in kind. We are also learning to appreciate our frontliners—common people like you and me—putting their life in jeopardy every day to fulfil our needs in areas of logistics and waste management. We read about armed personnel stepping forward and helping those in need, including clothing a naked newborn baby. We know about healthcare workers dealing with the brunt of the pandemic exposing themselves to patients under investigation and positive COVID-19 patients. Not forgetting all the workers from the essential industries who keep the country running. No amount of ‘thank yous’ are sufficient to express our gratitude *tabik spring*

Even my mother was helped by strangers. My mother is an aged woman with a knee problem; she walks with the assistance of a walking stick. In the few times that she was forced to go grocery shopping alone, fellow shoppers walked up and offered her assistance without her even having to ask—all while still maintaining a social distance. Many neighbours and friends have offered to purchase groceries/food for her as well.

It appears that the COVID-19 serves as a wakeup call to humans; the only ‘greater good’ for the human race moving forward is humanity as is seen now and the good that’s in all of us. My hope for the world is that we never ever forget this and push it to the back of our mind. We ourselves are the hope for the humankind; #kitajagakita rings true here. Now that we have seen the struggle, we should learn to never take things or people for granted. Life is short—pray, be kind, and serve others whenever possible. Be the best kind of human you can possibly be because you never know when another person may be looking out for some goodness in his life.

To end this posting on a very positive note, earth is healing itself. Pollution levels in KL have reduced; rivers are running clearer, and I hear more chirping birds than honking vehicles. Everyone I met on my brief grocery runs have been nothing short of friendly and refreshing. I get to enjoy the daily sunset (and occasionally, sunrise) where the sky is painted in a few hues. We have also been blessed with a rainy weather in Kuala Lumpur since the MCO started and I took the opportunity to mandi hujan in the condominium parking lots :P