Thursday, January 24, 2013

More Haste, Less Speed

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More Haste, Less Speed

It was the first day of my work experience. I left home with mixed feelings. I was anxious about my capability in handling the tasks given to me; yet I also felt thrilled with the thought of going to the city as a working person, not as a shopper. Besides, it was not easy to do your work experience in a bank. It was through my mothers arrangement that I was able to do so. I felt different, and I reminded myself that I should not let my mother down.

Shortly after arriving at HSBC, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, we were shown a video about the bank. Then the branch manager gave us a briefing on what we were supposed to do during our stay, but I was too impatient to give her my full attention. All I remember was something about photocopying cheques and transferring old files to new ones. I believed I was capable of operating a photocopying machine and handling simple tasks like filing. After the briefing I was given the task of sending cheques to other banks and typing letters. I found the tasks too easy. Perhaps, I had overestimated the tasks and underestimated myself.

Afternoon came and I approached my supervisor, telling her that I hoped I would be assigned something more difficult. Unfortunately, my supervisor again gave me such simple manual tasks like photocopying cheques. Not just that, she reminded me time and again that it had to be done in a neat order. Deep in my heart I felt insulted, thinking that she had underestimated my ability, but reluctantly I did what I was told. After photocopying the cheques one by one for a few minutes, I was so bored that I wanted to finish the task as soon as possible. An idea struck me. I compressed at least six cheques onto one piece of paper to save time. Yes, it did save much time and paper in doing so, but I later found it difficult and much more time consuming to cut out each of the copies. I forgot that all copies of cheques had to be filed separately. The consequence was that I had to do the photocopying once again, that time one by one. I should have known better. Other staff should have thought of this before. If that could work, why would they still give me instructions to do them one by one?

Trouble did not just stop there. Before starting another photocopying job, I had to shred the previous copies (the one with six cheques) since they were confidential documents. I remembered the lady told me to shred only one paper at a time, and that was what I did in the first few minutes. But then my pride and impatience again took the better of me. I tried two, then four, then six. Then a strange noise from the machine told me that something was wrong. It got jammed.

I was in panic, fearing that I had damaged the whole machine. I frantically pulled at the whole pile of paper with all my might but to no avail. Reluctantly, I had to call my supervisor for help. She did not say anything but simply took off the cover of the shredder and showed me how to retrieve the papers one by one. I felt my face burning with embarrassment.

“Oh my God!” she suddenly screamed in terror. “ What have you done?”

I took a look at the shreds that she was fingering. To my horror, they looked like coming from the cheques that I had just photocopied. My face turned pale and my whole body was shaking. Deep in my heart I knew that it was a serious matter. A disaster in fact. Am I going to be sued? Do I have to pay back a lot of money to the bank? I asked myself endless questions. The whole bank knew about it and soon there was a commotion. The bank manager was notified.

Lucky for me, it was soon discovered that only six cheques had been shredded. Besides, the photocopies of the cheques proved to be my saviour. The clients writing out the cheques were traced and everything was fixed within “two hours”. That made me feel much better. However, for the rest of the day I had the feeling that everyone was looking at me as if I were from outer space.

The first day of my work experience turned out to be a disaster. I dare not even look at my mother when I got home. She must have learned what I had done already. I felt bad but on the other hand I told myself that I had a great lesson. I should be humble and should listen to those who have more experience. There is truth in the old saying More haste, less speed. I think I will never make the same mistake again, I hope

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