Working as an expat in different countries, there are a lot of advantages and privileges at hand. However, these advantages are also reciprocated with challenges which can occur in a pattern or sometimes it can occur abrupt.
One area that expats need to look into is to handle crisis management. Though most of us knows the value of crisis management, implementing it in real life isn’t that easy. Foreigners and immigrants by nature always possess the thinking of being prepared for the worst. There’s always the back up plan when any disaster happens in the location they are currently residing or visiting with.
Though crisis management is often referred and talked about in large corporations, however it too can happen in an individual experience.
The applicability of crisis management can happen frequently or the opposite.
However there are two events that happened where I cannot forget and learned the usage of crisis management.
Being an expat for years and having been relocated couple of times, I have learned to adopt crisis management in everyday living. Here’s the two particular events where I wouldn’t forget as I believe it had involved my own life if I didn’t make a right decision in a short time.
The aim of sharing the stories below is to portray the importance of crisis management and is not insinuating racial and country discrimination. Thank you.
An Indecent Taxi Proposal:
I had a meeting with the technical team of one of our business partners. The partner’s office location is approximately 30 mins. (excluding traffic time) outside of Kuala Lumpur. The meetings and discussions dragged until night time. I wasn’t driving so my only recourse is to get a cab from a taxi stand in a nearby mall – One Utama. The business partner is gracious enough to drop me to One Utama since calling a cab wasn’t easy as well.
Around 8:30PM I managed to get a cab after a long queue. I told the driver of my destination and off we drove. From Bandar Utama, we took the highway approach as it is faster.
While inside the cab I was quiet as I noticed the cab driver was glancing from the rear mirror. I felt uncomfortable.
In the middle of the highway the cab driver started the conversation:
Driver: Hi Miss. You don’t sound from here. Where are you from?
Me: (Hesitant) I’m from Philippines.
Suddenly he gave me the grin which me and my friends call it ‘the dog smile’. It’s that kind of smile which makes you very uncomfortable that you just want to leave.
Driver: So you know how to speak Malay? You cantik cantik yah. (Translation: You’re pretty pretty yah.)
Me: (Still pretend to be gracious) Thank you. I only know few Malay phrases.
Driver: You know I have a lot of Filipino girlfriends from bars, pubs, helpers. I love and support them all.
Me: On my mind -> (Oh crap. Here’s the downgraded outlook to Filipino women. Grrrr… I just remained silent.)
The driver then suddenly talked to himself in the local Malay dialect and I just pretend I didn’t hear or understand what he says. I keep on looking at my watch and is praying that we reached my destination sooner than I expected. In the middle of the highway and without any buildings at sight he suddenly blurted out:
Driver: Can you be my girlfriend? I give you 3000 Ringgits tonight and we go to hotel. Can?
Me: On my mind -> Darn. Never in my life had I been looked in this manner! Damn you!
And my heart suddenly skipped. I couldn’t breathe well. It’s a combination of changed in emotions due to anger yet my brain has to be calm. If I make a wrong move, he can just do anything to me and just dumped me out of nowhere. During that time I was reading a lot of rape cases in the local newspaper headlines. I’m still a foreigner in the country. As I couldn’t breathe I was about to faint and I was fighting. I was fighting for my life. All I can think of is to pray to the God that I know that He will protect me that night. Everything is happening in a matter of seconds.
My will was strong enough.
Me: Uncle, can I drop my things first at my destination?
Driver: Okay. Can.
And he was giving the happy look while my mind was creating the plot to get out of the situation. If I reacted nasty to him, it will be negative and who knows what can happen. I have to think wisely. I’m not in the driver’s seat.
I just close my eyes and think. I leave everything to fate. When I opened my eyes again I saw that we were already in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Now I have hopes.
Almost reaching the condominium, the driver again confirmed:
Driver: So I wait for you downstairs okay?
Me: Sorry uncle I changed my mind. I don’t want to go with you to hotel.
Driver: (Disappointed). How about makan? (Translation: How about we go for dinner?)
We were already entering the condominium gate and there were few security guards on duty that time.
Me: Sudah makan Uncle. (Translation: Already had my dinner.)
Me: Uncle, my boyfriend is waiting upstairs ( I totally have to lie!!!). It is not good if he hears your offer. Do you want me to call him now? (And another lie!!!)
The driver just accepted my payment and left. Grumpy and disappointed.
I was still trembling when I alighted from the cab. I was still fearful and my legs were shaking.
Good thing is my friends were there to listen and comfort me on what happened.
After that incident I decided to call the taxi companies in Kuala Lumpur during night time and avoid getting a cab from taxi queues or even getting it from the streets. Sometimes even when I get a cab I call my friends and tell them the taxi number where I’m in.
The moral of the story is that crisis happens anytime. Fighting crisis in a head to head basis (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth) wouldn’t be a good idea. In situations where you only have seconds to think and react, you have to carefully weigh the options as sometimes it can cause you your life.
The second crisis management story continues in the next article titled ‘Political Unrest’.
Til next time. Au revoir.