The other person who actually stepped up was (get this) Teeth. You see, Mulan was scheduled to go on holidays, and, since Springsteen has already moved into her new position, Head Office Lady had to find someone to learn Mulan's tasks so that her bills would get processed in her absence. She asked me to do it and I accepted because I really didn't want to go back to the other stuff I was doing.
The difficulty was that they only gave Mulan and me one week in which to learn her stuff. And although Mulan is a very nice lady, her communication skills are hampered by a pronounced Hong Kong accent. To make things even more difficult, she wouldn't let me take notes on procedures. And when I unfortunately but inevitably made mistakes, she would say, "But I already told you that! I write it down for you!" But that doesn't help at all when I am trying to learn the billing procedure for seven or eight different clients. Eventually, my frustration reached a level at which I thought if she said, "I told you already," I was going to rip her fucking larynx out and tie in a bow around her goddamned neck.
Teeth, who was able to overhear the rising tension, stepped in to help, since she is actively promoting herself as Springsteen's inheritor. We had a long talk private talk, just the two of us, about how my brain was shutting down and at this point, it was like that scene in The Matrix where Neo is staring at all the streaming numbers; I was no longer able to take in anymore information. Teeth was supportive, attentive and sympathetic and I was starting to think that maybe I had been hasty in my dismissal of her.
And then she said, "Would this information make any more sense to you if it was explained in Caucasian?"
And if you, dear reader, are sitting there, staring at the screen with eyes that are somewhat wider than they were a moment ago, know that that is precisely the reaction that everyone has who hears this story.
My good friend D. suggested I should have replied, "No, I'm fluent enough in gook, thanks," which would have been very satisfying.
And believe me, it would have been perfectly in keeping with the attitudes in that office. It wouldn't have even really stood out as offensive. For the duration of Mulan's absence, I am sitting at her desk so that I may take advantage of the experience of the other billers who know how to do her stuff. And Mulan's desk is right outside of Jacques's office.
This afternoon, as I was getting up from my desk to collect some papers from the printer, Jacques saw me. He smiled broadly, put his palms together in front of his chest and bowed low, saying, "Ah-so!"
I was so stunned by this display of blatant racism that I stopped in my tracks and looked around to see if anyone else had heard or seen it. I caught Sylvester's glance and her eyes looked like a pair of sattelite dishes. Finally, I turned back to Jacques and in Cantonese, told him, "Good morning, how are you?"
He thought that was pretty funny, so I don't think he realized that I was actually speaking one of the main Chinese languages. I think he thinks I was playing along with him and making up words, because he did the "Ah-So!" thing later on in the day. That time, I just ignored it, but in my mind I was thinking, "Christ on a cracker, man--the Human Rights Commission would be ALL over this!!!"
Of course, he would never dream of doing this to Mulan's face. Not like Teeth, who I overheard mocking Mulan's accent last week while they were both in the lunch room. Yet despite this appalling lack of cultural and personal sensitivity, Teeth still thinks she's manager material.
I gotta find another job.