A So-Called Singaporean Love Story (Told In Corporate Jargon)
Siew May implemented a smile as she shook hands with her new colleagues. “It’s a pleasure to establish introductions with you,” she beamed.
Boon Keong received a notification on his shoulder – it was his buddy Tim. “Bro,” whispered Tim, “She’s not wearing a wedding ring. There is a potential opportunity to proceed with merger negotiations. FYNA pls.”
Boon Keong observed Siew May, who was still saying hi to everyone. She was beautiful – in a geeky sort of way – the kind of girl he could see but never touch, like the money in his CPF account.
“Dude,” he said, “She’s way out of my purview.”
Tim was undeterred. “Bro. If you want to make a move, please expedite. Someone like that will be taken soonest.” Boon Keong rolled his eyes and turned back to his computer. “There’s no way I can meet that KPI,” he sighed.
Boon Keong slammed his hand on the photocopier. “This stupid thing breaks down more often than the North-East Line”. He crouched down to do a deep dive into what was wrong.
“May I inquire if there is any issue”? Siew May was standing at the door of the copy room. “I heard a noise so I commenced an investigation.”
Boon Keong’s heart increased to his throat. “Uh, ah… I was checking on the internal process of this photocopier. It’s ok, I’ll figure it out. Don’t waste your time…”
“Don’t worry, I have some bandwidth to help!” Siew May chirped. “Please do not hesitate to ask.”
Boon Keong stepped aside. “Sure. For your kind perusal please.”
“Ah, I see the problem here. You just have to action on this paper jam…”
Click. The machine hummed to life.
“Wow,” marvelled Boon Keong, “Many thanks for your kind advise.”
Here was his chance. It was now or never. Despite the strategic risks, he escalated his courage and asked, “Do you think… maybe… I could buy you a coffee later? For your kind approval please.”
Siew May didn’t revert. Boon Keong panicked. Why was there no prompt reply? Did she already have a partnership with another male entity? Would she deliver a negative appraisal of his invitation?
“I mean…just to thank you for helping me. Hope that clarifies.”
“Your request is hereby approved,” Siew May smiled. “How do we dovetail in terms of timelines?”
Boon Keong breathed a sigh of relief. “How about 6.30 today? Please confirm.”
“That sounds like an achievable milestone. Well… see you then. Rgds.”
The date commenced at 6.37pm.
Boon Keong and Siew May waited while the barista actioned on their orders on an expeditious basis.
At first, their conversation stayed at the high-level: What the boss was like, why she transferred over, etc
Boon Keong kept nervously adjusting his shirt. He wished he could say something cool, but his responses were about as exciting as an Agenda slide that nobody pays attention to.
To break the ice, Siew May decided to go for the low-hanging fruit first. “Sooooo…What do you like to do when you consume your leave?”
Boon Keong relaxed visibly. “Well,” he said, “I like to cook during lull periods.”
“Cook?” Siew May was intrigued. “That’s currently out-of-scope for me. Would you please kindly allow me to leverage on your expertise to teach me in due course?”
“Duly noted. I would be pleased to,” said Boom Keong as he passed her his phone. “Please see attached the pictures of dishes I’ve cooked.’
Siew May was impressed. “Wow, Boon Keong – Laksa, salted egg chicken, mushroom risotto? These are great deliverables! Tell you what. You teach me how to cook, and I’ll render my assistance when you need help with that photocopier.”
They laughed. The conversation proceeded smoothly thereafter.
Before they knew it, an extension was applied to the date until 11pm.
“It’s getting late,” said Siew May, “We should execute our exit plan so we can leverage on the MRT to get home.”
“Okay,” said Boon Keong, “Agreed as per your suggestion.”
It started to rain. Raindrops were bouncing off the pavement like a bad PowerPoint animation. Fortunately, Boon Keong had an umbrella.
“Can I share that with you?” Siew May asked. “I left mine at the office. Hope your understanding is very much appreciated.”
“Sure,” said Boon Keong, “Pleased to be able to meet your requirements.”
As they ventured into the rain, Boon Keong felt Siew May clutch his arm and draw closer to him. It felt nice. He was silently grateful that his biceps had experienced strategic growth after his IPPT last week.
The pair navigated their way to the MRT station, avoiding the multiple instances of ponding along the way.
Finally, dripping wet, they reached the station. Boon Keong walked Siew May to her platform.
“Well, many thanks for tonight. It was deeply appreciated.” Siew May smiled.
“You are most welcomed.” Boon Keong smiled back awkwardly. What would be an appropriate conclusion to the evening? Should he kiss her? Shake her hand? Give her a hug? Would she acknowledge receipt?
As the train pulled into the station, Boon Keong settled for an awkward high five.
“Suave, dude, real suave,” Boon Keong muttered to himself. “I’ll need to establish a better date-conclusion process.”
Siew May stepped onto the train. The night was over.
She turned around. “Boon Keong?”
She had a twinkle in her eye. “We spoke re: the cooking. When are you going to teach me?”
“Oh! Uhm, let me determine my availabilities. I’ll drop you an email. Please confirm.”
“This is highly noted. Will revert.” Siew May smiled. “Irregardless, I had fun today.”
She blew him a kiss as the train doors closed.
Boon Keong simply stood there, staring at the departing train.
And then he smiled.
Inspired by: A Deep Dive To Remember: A Love Story Between Business Managers, Written By A Business Manager (The New Yorker)
Special thanks to: Peishan for the concept and proof-reading (“for yr vetting pls”); Nolan, Sheryl, Terrence and pls-revert.tumbler.com for an endless supply of uniquely Singaporean corporate jargon and civil service speak.
Image credit: BestSampleResume