Friday, May 16, 2008

Imitation is the best form of flattery

Every year my my department never fails to hold an event called "Malam Anugerah Khidmat .Cemerlang" or "Excellent Service Awards Night". At this function the guest of honour, usually the State Menteri Besar presents the awards. In other words the awards recipients are being flattered for their excellent services. To be fair I like to state that I too had received my awards a few years ago.

As I see it the awards are given mostly to those workers who please their bosses most. To the public who are our clients and thus our real bosses a worker can be very uncooperative but as long as he pleases his boss he is in line for the awards. To me there is nothing that can be imitated from these flattered workers. Except of course if I want to sacrifice my responsibilities to my clients just to please my boss. I am not that type.

Compared to other departments in the whole country my department joined the computer wagon quite late. We started using computer terminals in the early 90s. There were no personal computers then except one. This special PC was given to our Assistant Accountant who was also acting as our department's Treasurer. In the meantime I was already owning a PC at home.

I was in in charge of a section in my department. Around the month of March each section head was required to prepare his section's budget for the coming year.This acting Treasurer gave us a set of forms to be filled with figures and statements. The figures and statements were supposed to be typewritten as the computer terminals were not programmed to print out spreadsheets and word processors.

So I decided to test my skills in using the spreadsheet programme I learned that was Lotus 123. I transferred the given set of forms to spreadsheets and prepared a programme at home using my PC. Within one week my section budget using the Lotus 123 programme was ready. When I handed the budget to the acting Treasurer he showed a surprised look. Of course I had both hard and soft duplicate copies with me. Other sections had not submitted their budgets yet as their staff were busy with their hand written drafts, calculators and typewriters.

After a few days the acting Treasurer came to me and asked me lent him a copy of my budget programme. Since he is a nice guy I just gave him a diskett copy. I was sure he was well versed in Lotus 123. I never asked why he wanted my programme for.

After a few weeks right after all the budgets were submitted all the section heads had a meeting with the big boss to discuss our budget one by one. The acting Treasurer was seated just beside the big boss. Only then I realised why the acting Treasurer had asked for a copy of my budget programme. He had prepared for each other section another budget using the same spreadsheet programme that I invented. That was pure imitation! Did I receive any form of flattery? No, but I was flattered at heart!

Everybody in the meeting room knew that their computer printed budget second copies were prepared by the acting Treasurer. But nobody knew that the acting Treasurer had copied my programme. To keep his dignity I kept quiet. He is a financial expert while I am not, he was provided with a PC while everybody else including me was not. It would be a shame on him to if I were to spill the beans.

When the department eventually received PCs the section budgets were prepared using disketts which was already programmed by the acting Treasurer who had gone back to his old job since we had a new qualified accountant as Treasurer. A good friend of mine had taken over my job as section head. One day the once acting Treasurer told my good friend that the idea of using programmed diskettes was my idea. My good friend was surprised that he did not know it earlier. When he asked my why I kept this as a secret all this while I simply answered "That's me".

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