Monday, July 22, 2013

Drunkard's target is not the wine[醉翁之意不在酒]

I came across a piece "Confessions of an ex-HDB Officer" by a TRS contributor CJ. I am not going to comment on his confessions, but rather the (possibly troll) responses that are rather interesting and (IMHO) reflective of a typical Singaporean mindset. [Note: Italics and bold mine, for emphasis.]
For example, Alan Tay, Professional Tree Hugger at Tree Lovers, posted on July 3, 2013 at 7:27pm [with 2 Like's]:
CJ was out HDB because he was sacked? Otherwise, CJ is so noble to resign and take a pay cut of 50%. How many years did he work in HDB? I smell bulls***
For example, Ron Koo, who "Works at SLNG Terminal Project @ Meranti Cresent, Jurong Island", posted on July 4, 2013 at 7:09am [with 1 Like]:
the story is very doubtful as the writer said he left HDB for a 50% pay cut. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, or rather, once fed you with a fat rolex.
Let me start-off by stating that I do not know CJ personally. In fact, I only read TRS occasionally, but something about his later article "The People Vs HDB. In the matter of public interest." which showed up on another blogger's blogs-of-interest caught my eye. Then I followed-up on his preceding article and chanced upon the above comments.

The comments, as I've mentioned above, (IMHO) reflects a typical Singaporean mindset. A mindset which sees the path to success as a rigid straight line, from A to B. A mindset that finds it hard to imagine that there exists people who will wilfully take "The Road Not Taken".
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874-1963). 
Mountain Interval. 1920.
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;       5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,       10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.       15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.       20
I shall repeat myself -- I do not know CJ personally. I have no reason to doubt or believe his story. That said, I know it is possible to walk away from a job/career and to take another that pays 50% or less. I have done so myself. In fact, I have tried 3 attempts -- only to finally succeed on my 3rd attempt.

[1997 Job offer from NCB]
[Note: The above job offer was neither my highest nor lowest pay in my 10+ years spent in my first career. It just serves to illustrate that there are people (your truly for example) who will wilfully walk away from a job/career and move on to one that pays 50% or less of one's previous salary. "The starting basic salary for Registered Nurses is approximately $1,800." according to the WDA Professional Conversion Programme for Registered Nurses webpage as at 22-Jul-2013.]
IMHO, what the commenters above probably do not understand is the Chinese saying, 醉翁之意不在酒”。["The drunkard's target is not the wine."] Look at the long-term. And as Robert Frost wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."


p.s. For those who wonder:

It took me many years, but I am on-track for a return to my previous salary levels. The major/critical point is that I am in a different career, in a different country -- one with proper labour protection and a good social support system (which I willingly pay tax for). I no longer have to deal with stressors like:
For those who want the numbers as proof: BCNU's (B.C. Nurses Union) pay-scale for newly graduated Registered Nurse start at CAD31.71/hour as of April 2013. The typical full-time RN works 1700 hours/year or more.


  1. I'll second that.

    I quit my job for half the pay and none of the glamour, to play the long game of eventual migration.

    And now that I have migrated, I earn more than if I had stayed at the original job.

    The extra money is nice, but nothing beats having freedom and space.

    When you come to a fork in the road, ALWAYS take it.

    1. Yup, CK, we may be the handful of "Singapore rejects". Hahah! :-D