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My Ex-Mate Mr. Bean

The nail-bitingly boring life of sitting - on a standard squeaky non-ergonomic office chair - in a cubicle at my previous place of employment is long over. I'm right now enjoying life as a productive, self-employed entrepreneur with an average six-figure income and a boosted ego, which is emblazoned on my name cards! It's another story about the famous big fish in a small pond - I'll tell you about it another time.

But even now I can still clearly recall my former daily frustrating working environment in my mind. Alex who occupied the hidden cubicle (it was behind a waste-of-space huge pillar) on my left gawking at the Chinese porn VCD movies he played on his computer screen. Then Wendy on the far right corner who always complained about her unsatisfying sex life (she's forty with off and on boyfriends and confessed that she had never experienced orgasm). Annie who sat across from my cubicle who continuously bragged on how she had successfully got rid of one inch of her excess flabby fat, and last but not least of course, my beloved mate Mr. Bean. He was the stereotypical co-worker who always tried to backstab me so I looked bad in front of our bosses. This wonderful person filled the chamber next to mine.

Mr. Bean, an office nick name inherited for his uncanny resemblance in both facial expression and movement to the famous comedian, was my pain in the neck colleague who made my relatively cheerful life almost mental. Not to mention one of the reasons why I quit my job as the Company's Public Relations bunny.

On numerous occasions, I caught him either taking credit for his colleague's work, spreading bad rumours about somebody in the office who had just earned a promotion, or simply laughing too hard every time his boss made one of his not-so-funny sexist jokes.

Mr. Bean is an Indonesian of Chinese decent. Don't mistake me for an anti non-native, as my best friend and in fact a lot of my friends also belong to the same group. He's just an absolute self-appointed brown nose in the office despite his skin colour or origins.

I remember how he always made so much fuss every time there was a small-scale riot, meaningless demonstration or frankly even a herd of street people waiting in line for free T-shirts. And how he was so afraid driving alone from his home to work because of that reason. The racist movement at some stage has obviously traumatised him. As everybody knows, during some of the politically driven demonstrations over the years our yellow-skinned brothers and sisters have sometimes become the scapegoat. One day, I saw him coming to work wearing the black cap (introduced by ex-President Soeharto as the nationalist attribute) and the Moslem praying carpet flung on his shoulder. Da! He's not a Moslem. He's not even religious at all. And yes sure, nobody could recognise his eyes and skin, of course. I mean, why would anybody pretend to be somebody that they are not? If you have done nothing wrong, what are you afraid of?

Do you see the point here? He's the kind of person who would do anything to be 'safe'.

There's always at least one person in every office that acts like Mr. Bean. I just didn't understand why I had to be the unfortunate one to be both working with and sitting beside him.

The D-day, or doom day, finally arose when one morning I found my table and chair, which were arranged neatly according to the 'feng-shui' advice my best friend gave me, shifted almost a meter away from their original spot! The office boy told me later on that apparently Mr. Bean had come to work and quickly rearrange the office interior earlier that morning.

"Mr. Bean said that he needed more space for the new potted plant he just bought," explained the o-boy. The plant was a twenty-centimetre tall bonsai Ficus.

People like him have skin as thick as a dried and stuffed armadillo. There was no point arguing with him. I moved my stuff back in silence. Fighting back was only making me sink to his level.

That was the point when I realised that I didn't deserve to be hassled by somebody like Mr. Bean whilst working for somebody else. I was a member of the DINK association, which stands for the Dual Income with No Kids, and my husband also has a full-time job. For a short moment I dreamt of getting pregnant and spoiling myself drying up my husband's platinum credit cards by daily spa treatments as I contemplated what I'd do with my time if I decided to quit my job.

Well, I decided to be what I am now instead. Doesn't have anything to do with the subjects I studied for six years in the university, of course. But, hey, a woman has got to do what a woman has got to do!

Until now, as far as I know, nobody enjoys Mr. Bean's company in the office anymore, including his bosses (when they finally realised how manipulative Mr. Bean actually had been) and now he's stuck there with no corporate ladder to climb. He's probably going to spend the rest of his life kissing somebody else's behind. The only thing, besides being ignorant, that he's good at.

In the end, I guess I should thank Mr. Bean for helping me realise that I didn't have to put up with him for long. Like it or not, he actually made me stand up on my own two feet. Now I'm no longer restricted by the stretched nine or ten hour per day job, listening to grumpy bosses who made five times more salary than me yet have absolutely no life whatsoever outside their office cubicles - which were only slightly bigger than mine. What a nonsensical sacrifice! Well God bless you Mr. Bean, go ahead make other people's life miserable so they can end up as lucky as me!