” Love Exciting and New/ Come Aboard / We’re Expecting you
and Love’ Life’s Sweetest Reward, we’re a friendly smile on a friendly shore.”
Theme from the Love Boat sung by Jack Jones.
No, I am not doing a Kate Natividad style story. The title is in reference to a 70s hit Aaron Spelling show. I will make the case that love is not always a good thing. I have never been on a cruise. That in itself might be a good thing. I would anticipate my pancreas might take a hell of a beating. If my relatives ever had any inkling how much of my blogs have been based on their statements or stories over the years I will be banned from all dinners. The best revenge you can have for people who could care less about what you write is write about them.
What did I tell you? KSP is indeed the root of all evil. Whether it was the Jessica Sanchez excuses one of them made, or another cheering It’s Noy or Never back in Feb of 2010 blog material can be mined from family. One such relative talked about being on a cruise and the sweetheart deal he got from the pinoy bartender. The details are not important, whether he paid for only the first drink on the first day of a week long cruise or he only paid for every other drink thereafter I don’t know. Suffice it to say I get the impression that if a Canadian/ Norweigan/ Thai or Nigerian ordered the same number of drinks over the same amount of time from the same pinoy bartender that I doubt the cost incurred to that person would be the same. I really really doubt that this would be an isolated case on board a cruise ship when it comes to a Filipino serving a “kababayan”.
So for the purposes of what follows I will make two assumptions:
- My relative / pinoy bartender story happened
- It’s not the first time or the last time a pinoy employee sets up an arbitrary pricing policy for a fellow pinoy in an international setting.
Part of my day job is to make sure our service process is followed. In order to operate a semi competent company, you want procedure followed. You want order and predictable outcomes. Pinoys as a culture tend to resist those concepts. We are a culture of bahala na and have things as chaotic as possible. Look at rush hour over in the capital region. Fallen Angel covered the MRT aspect of commuting and I gave my thoughts on public transit in Edsa itself. It is like civilization stands still while commuting is ongoing.
I truly understand that general objective of making the client happy. The problem is living in the real world, there is a cost to making the client happy. Usually management monitors and sets limits to what employees can do to make a client happy. Once I noticed an employee who was more senior than I was giving freebies to clients in terms of service. He was taking liberties beyond the service level agreement. He used that justification that he was making the client happy. Of course this was only declared when I called him out on it. A human being can justify anything specially if he or she is doing something wrong. What this guy was doing under the guise of making the client happy was setting up unrealistic expectations for the value of the service that we will provide months down the road. He in effect wrote a check that somebody else will have to cash.
We learn from our mistakes and the mistake that I feel we made was we preached making the client happy without any kind of context to what makes the management of our company happy. I told you about my relative who was boasting about the pinoy bartender that took liberties providing him drinks. That was told in the context that on a cruise later on this year he expects similar treatment from whatever pinoy staff ends up on his ship. I am sure you have heard the concept of enablers before. The idea that behind most people who behave inappropriately there are people that allow it to happen. I like how Colin Cowherd puts it. The “Ice Cream for Breakfast” parent.
Make the client happy? That’s the excuse some people give when they override efficiency. You are the employee. Often times the lower level is the sole face of the company to the client. You are supposed to walk the tight rope between pleasing your boss, and pleasing your customer. Because like it or not your viability as a company depends on how employees bring in revenue and reduce expenses. I did not invent capitalism. Going back to my role as trainer, I told my guys that yes you make the client happy. If you go to a sari-sari store and the employee there gives you a free Coke I am sure you will be happy. The one who won’t be happy is the one who owns the sari sari store who not only will fail to see the margin from that bottle of Coke but also not even the see the cost recovered. I am just saying how it is. Pinoys in cruise ships that give pinoy guests special treatment I assume they do it because its their way of connecting with home. They are connecting with home at the expense of their employer by arbitrarily squandering inventory on the basis of race.
I am not sure why but every two years the same hose in my car leaks gas. When it does happen it would be really stupid for me to ignore that leaky hose in terms of both economy and safety. Filipinos in cruise ships that engage in favoritism to kabayans in allocating inventory are the leaky hose of that company. Proud to be pinoy!
As we always say here in Get Real Philippines: the pinoys allow the emotional before the rational. That’s why Cory has all this warm and fuzzy associations that Noynoy was able to exploit to be President of the Philippines. In my blog about co-opting, I make the case that Noynoy is trying to anchor all nationalistic feelings to the yellow ribbon symbol. If he succeeds in that, his family’s agenda will be mistaken by many as the nation’s agenda. That is the power of anchoring.
What does this say about pinoy employees in the context of a cultural workforce? More desirable or less desirable? As usual with any quandary in life sometimes we just have to accept the fact we can’t have it both ways. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. If loneliness in terms of culture is a problem then stay at home where you will be surrounded by your own kind if that is what you want. With what of course I assume is less pay. Accept the fact that there is a trade off.
There was this classic Eddie Murphy Saturday Night Live short film. If I recall he had already left the cast and then came back and guest hosted. What he did was had himself made up as a white guy and wanted to see if New York City treated him any differently. You can see the results here.
Clerk: What are you doing?
Eddie Murphy: I’m buying this newspaper.
Clerk: That’s all right. There’s nobody around. Go ahead, take it. Take it. [ Eddie gives him a quizzical look ] Go ahead, take it. Yeah. Take it. Take it.
[ Eddie takes the newspaper, and cautiously exits ]
Eddie Murphy Voiceover: Slowly, I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free.
As it sometimes happens, what is comedy for some is reality for the Filipino. You may be in the Love Boat of sorts but you are there because your firm is trying to make money. You are not there to love excessively those with identical culture to you at the expense of your firm’s inventory and compromising their bottom line. Inventory is an asset. Employees are responsible for monitoring and proper allocation of it. All this within the interest of the firm that employs the employee. Somethings are caught and not taught. When my parents ran a bake store in a public market decades ago. When they saw somebody they knew and wanted to offer them something they rang it in as a sale. They paid for it themselves. In case you are wondering my parents are Filipino. Granted they were not regular employees.
It seems to me in an international setting , in the middle of the ocean of course the pinoy will resort to what they know best. Ad Hoc rules that apply favoritism, emotions and nepotism. Procedure be damned. Come to think of it, that is how Noynoy Aquino with zero accomplishments became president. No one is condemning the pinoy work ethic in this setting. It’s just that any kind of special treatment that is not approved or not known by management affects the bottom line and reflects badly on the rest of the crew, pinoy and non pinoy.
The Filipino has a tendency to short cut. There is nothing wrong with feeling a sense of kinship. It’s when people think that sense of kinship makes it OK to compromise your employer who I doubt has the same sentiment. You can consider this negative if you want or a glimpse into the underbelly of the pinoy.
While we are on the subject of the Love Boat. In true pinoy fashion. Fred Grandy from the Love Boat TV show became a politician. Although it must be noted Grandy did study in Exeter and Harvard prior to his role as Gopher on the Love Boat.
A long time ago in a different city I knew a man named Byron. I knew him from this young adults group that got together in one house to discuss various issues from a Catholic perspective. Byron was a bus driver in this city where there no such thing as private buses for public transport. I bring that up because based on where you had to go, you could take several buses as long as you held the time sensitive fare receipt. You only paid during your initial ride. One day by sheer coincidence I hopped on a bus ( to this day I remember the exact stop) and I heard a “Hi Gogs! ” before I even saw the driver of the bus. He was pleased to see me but as I made my way to the rear, he called me back. He had to get a clear view of my fare reciept. He wanted to make sure I was following the rules. Regardless if he was my friend or not. For whatever reason it may serve, Byron was not pinoy.
I said in an earlier blog that quality should come before nationality. Pinoys that engage in this nationality favoritism really are putting common ethnicity in front of their obligation to their employers. You can never convince me in a million years that is an accepted practice of the cruise line. Now if the management of the cruise liner gave their bartenders carte blanche who to give discounts or freebees to than I have no problem with the practice. It’s their company. Actually let’s put it this way, if the management put down in writing that its OK to give all Filipinos discounts at the bar, I would imagine there would be lawsuits before the ship put into the next port.
Preferably I would like this to result in pinoy cruise workers to examine their consciences and their job behavior for the better. If that does not happen and this results in exposing current workers for what they are and what they do , good. It seems racial ties is more important than being a good employee. This is pseudo generosity. The customer may be getting a good deal but one thing I have learned observing other people is there is nothing easier than giving away someone else’s money. So explain to me why pinoy on pinoy generosity is a good thing in a commercial setting?
In the song Love Boat , Jack Jones sings
” The Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone”
Apparently some of the pinoy crew promises more to the passengers who match their race. There is a word for that.