Sunday, May 11, 2014
Integrity, Gratitude, and Karma
I have a lot of acquaintances and I get asked for a lot of help. (In my real life, not here in virtual world.) Last year, a friend and his family asked* me to help him find a job.(I’m going to call him “bear” because that’s what his car is called in Arabic.)
*I don't want to say "begged" because that would appear OTT and narcissistic, but seriously, that’s what they did.
So, being the good friend that I am (also known as “sucker,” “pushover,” and sometimes, “door mat”), I worked on his resume for him, mentored him on what he should do/say in an interview, gave him advice. He got the job....
And then he started asking the company for more. More salary. More benefits. More perks. He got more. And no, he was not grateful. It was simply about getting what he could out of it.
In Kuwait, this is a pervasive, fast-moving parasitic virus known as “Masla7a” or benefiting from or using others. This virus took hold in Kuwait following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. It wasn’t really prevalent before. Many people don’t even know that they have it. It lies dormant and suddenly, they become Masla7a.
Let me pause here to say that I am a FIRM believer in the power of gratitude. If someone does something for you; you’d better be grateful. It isn’t between you and that person; it is between you and God. You are blessed. It didn’t happen all by itself. There was a higher power pushing it along. I send thank-you notes and little gifts. If there is a job that I really want, I sent flowers to the interview team. I don’t take this stuff lightly. If there is one prayer you should say, it is “Thank You.” God watches and listens.
So, along the way, Bear asked for more and got more. He didn’t have to work very long hours. He got to take his company car home. He even asked for and was granted English courses. Never grateful.
Then he got a better job; something that he has always wanted to do. (Again, this kind of thing doesn’t happen by itself. God is blessing you and testing you at the same time. How will you react? Will you do the right thing or the wrong thing?)
He gave 4 day’s notice when he resigned. 4 days. The law in Kuwait is 90 days. Because he is of a nationality that does not require him to be sponsored by the company, they couldn’t hold him with that. They may be able to pursue legal action and I don’t know if they will choose to do that. Bear asked me if the company might ask for him to repay 3 months’ salary. I told him that if they did, it was a result of his own actions.
I helped him get this job and the people in the company know me. It is my reputation; but that didn’t matter to Bear. All he thought about was his, “Big chance.” And how fast he could get there.
I had a chat with Bear about karma and ethics. It was like talking to a brick wall. I see companies not as institutions of employment, but a group of people. Bear hurt humans in his actions; people that gave him a chance and believed in him (like me). I worry about his soul. I’m sure my reputation will endure this. But everything you do comes back to you; good or bad. It all has ripple effect. Bear will eventually acknowledge this.
He has burnt a bridge. Well, Kuwait is small, so in reality, he has burnt a lot of bridges because people talk. He can’t ask anyone for help at the company. It’s done. And if the company he is going to work for is even slightly professional, they’ll ask for (and check!) a reference and he won’t be able to provide one. People talk in diwaniyas. What happens if he is terminated during his upcoming 90-day probation period? There’s no going back now.
I saw Bear’s family. They blamed me for not helping Bear resign; for not helping convince the company to let him go without any repercussion. They thought, wrongly and stupidly, that I was trying to force him to stay at the company. Why would I do that when all I ever did was try to help him? Of course I want him to excel, but do it the RIGHT WAY. Again, no gratitude (I didn't get pink roses, I got a bunch of angry people shouting at me and telling me that I was wrong not to help him MORE.) They pray. They fast. They’re not grateful. I can’t help them with that (or anything else ever again).
Like I tell my friends, you can call me what you want, but I believe in helping people because that is between myself and God. If they let me down, it is their own personal relationship (test) with God. They have had a choice to make and I move on knowing that I did the right thing.
(This post sounds very mature and gracious, doesn't it? In reality, I did a lot of cussing and BMCing to my girlfriends and actually had an ugly cry. It isn't easy to lose friends - especially in a shitty way like this. Masla7a people suck and there's no cure!)