Man about town

MAN ABOUT TOWN: I’m torn between Shiro and dad’s X-mas plans

The end of the year is not a good time when one is on probation. One is never sure how to behave. I have noticed that activities have slowed down in the office. People are coming in late and several are on leave. The emails have also reduced, and I am not being invited to as many meetings as last month. However, I cannot appear to be taking it easy like the rest since I am still on probation.

Just last week, my boss came to me and asked to review our “2020 plans." Thankfully, I had borrowed heavily from last year’s plans and I was happy as I appeared proactive and shared my plans. I do not get to interact with my boss as much since he is always travelling so my one-hour session to review the plans felt like an induction. At the end, I could not help but think to myself, “this guy is actually very smart.”

He challenged me logically on some of the assumptions I had made. He then asked me to rework them and share with him before December 10.”

I have always been curious about his life, so I used this line to make conversation. I asked him: “Will you be going on leave then?” He laughed and said, “yes, I will be taking time off- or else my wife will kill me!” He then told me about his family- he has three children two of whom study abroad, and one is here. He clearly takes pride in his family for he got quite animated while talking about their accomplishments. At the end of the session I went back to my office feeling we had "connected" and so relieved that after December 10 I would get some breathing space.

I was feeling pretty good about myself when Shiro called on my phone. She went straight to the point and said, “why haven’t you given me a response?” I was taken aback and enquired, “which response?” She then told me about the email she had sent me regarding our holiday plans.


Shiro wants us to join her family for the holidays mainly because “mum has not been feeling too well and has insisted that we all be home for Christmas. You never know with these things, so we need to be there.”

While I sympathise with Shiro, I really do not like being around her family- they are too religious, and they do not drink. However, I realised that I would appear insensitive if I said that I could not make it especially since her mum is not well.

Then I remembered my conversation with the boss and the fact that I am still on probation. I told her, “I will only make it to spend Christmas and Boxing Day with your family since I will be expected on duty on the 27th.”

This did not seem to make her happy as she said, “ surely you cannot leave after only two days, everyone else is staying for the entire holiday season.” I told her: “You need to remember that I am still on probation, so I do not have the luxury of having many days to take off work.”

I was surprised by how adamant she was being and said, “surely, you can talk to the boss and ask him to make an exception this time round.” I realised there was no winning this argument so I told her, “ I will talk to him and hear what he says. I will not make any promises.”

This seemed to calm her, and she said, “please let me know what he says by end of the week.” I was just settling to do my work when my phone rang- It was my father and he got straight to the point,” You need to come home this Christmas-we need to have a family meeting to deal with your brother’s issues.” Suddenly I am fearful about Christmas.