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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Then Again, It was Just Another Day

It was just another day in January 2004. I was wasting my time with time-killing activities: playing electric piano, chewing chocolates, listening to old songs, daydreaming, and browsing the Internet.

“Will you check the site for me when you’re logged on to the Internet later?”

A request from my boyfriend. The site was that of Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia. Sounds cool, eh? He was waiting for the selection test results he claimed he didn’t really care about.

“What was your number?”
“A-1517.”

The official site was similar to that of other Indonesian government sites. Slow and dull. But at least it was updated somewhat regularly. The announcement of the result was placed in a special section of the site. And blinking.

“What was your number again?”
“A-1517.”

I was trying to come up with the right words.

“Congratulations.”

There was silence.

“Hello? Still there?”

* * *

As you would have thought, everyone in his family was proud and exhilarated. Most of the people we told about were awed just as much. And I thought…and we thought, what was so great about that anyway? You wouldn’t even get a full salary (which was only a little over IDR 800,000/month, by the way) for the first seven months living in Jakarta. The only good thing was getting rid of that lifeless brownish government uniforms, and perhaps attending language classes for free.

Then everyone started advising me about choosing the same career track.

I don’t mean at all to be smug for not taking opportunities others yearn for. Who wouldn’t want to be a diplomat? Thinking of going abroad and seeing places I’ve never been to might make me say yes. After all, I’ll be paid in USD once I’m posted out there. And by the way, diplomats never encounter financial setbacks. Or so they say.

I think I’m not brave enough to take responsibilities. I think I’m scared of the fact that I would represent, and in some way determine the fate of, over 2 million Indonesian citizens in international round-tables. I think I’m worried I’ll be falling asleep or forwarding joke emails—instead of working—during office hours. I think I’m afraid of spending 3-day “comparative study” in Bali with my people’s money. I think I barely breathe knowing that other people work hard and pay taxes to the government so I can stay in 4-to-5-star hotels or ride in black shiny Volvos. I think I hardly enjoy lavish one-year-abroad duties while realizing that extravagant ways of living is not what government officers need to do these days.

“Don’t be too sure of yourself. You might not even pass the first selection test, anyway.”

I know. I wear veils, remember?

* * *

But I’ll probably married to that kind of person. I’m just hoping that we will soon find our way to financial freedom. And kiss this horrific constrained life goodbye.

* * *

It was just another day in December 2004. I was wasting my time with time-killing activities: playing Hoyle Word Games, condemning Indonesians who overrate Indonesian governmental careers. And thanking God I didn’t do these with Indonesian people’s money.

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