by Gina Tonic
The week started off so well – but crashed and burned badly today. Specifically, in the Philippines.
We had trouble in the past getting deposits back from Landlords for our corporate leases. So, when I heard that our expat, Nigel, had been called to return home, there was potential that all would not go to plan. Nigel was not happy either – he had invested himself in the Philippines – in a big way – and got himself a local wife. However, Nigel seemed non-committal about bringing his wife back to his home country, and appeared to be slightly disengaged about what the future would now hold for them.
I arrived in the office this morning and immediately the phone rang – my team in Singapore were calling. I answered the phone and my colleague started the conversation nervously.
‘I’ve just sent you some photos of Nigel’s check out. It’s really bad. Nigel has left the apartment with a broken toilet seat in the middle of the bathroom floor and the landlord is furious’.
The PC was warming up and taking its time. The photos were stuttering open at a snail’s pace. ‘Well’ I said ‘that is a bit of an odd thing to do, but plastic toilet seats can break’. The photo suddenly came into full view and I just gaped at the images before me, lost for words.
Eventually I managed ‘OK – well that’s not just the toilet seat, that’s the toilet bowl’. And indeed it was – on its side laying on the middle of the bathroom floor like a bleached mammal, lay the complete toilet. The gigantic hole in the wall showed where it had once happily lived – but sadly no more.
‘That must have been one hell of a party.’ I commented.
‘May be but that’s not all’, said my colleague, ‘Nigel is not actually living in the house anymore. Apparently, he has moved out and is living with someone else. So his wife decided to move in her parents, 2 brothers and a sister-in-law’.
Whilst my colleague was talking I was scrolling down the checkout photos – kitchen units slightly damaged – but described as ‘pulled off the wall’, wash basin with a hair line crack – described as badly damaged – the landlord now making the most of the situation. I stopped at the photo of a large pile of clothing on the floor, and the next photo – same pile of clothing, but this time two men sorting it out – bizarrely posing for the camera with a smile and a wave. The morning was becoming more surreal.
‘Who are the men with the clothes?’ I asked. ‘Oh, they are the brothers’, was the reply, ‘that’s another issue, they haven’t actually left the property yet’.
Where to start! Fortunately, the line manager and HR Business Partner are on side and Nigel was tracked down. He agreed to be brave and evict the in-laws by the end of the day. He has also accepted that he must pay for all the damages – and he will probably have to negotiate hard with the landlord. Nigel has some serious explaining to do.
My team have asked whether we should change our corporate housing policy. Not yet, I believe it was a strange isolated incident and I really don’t think it could happen again.
For me, I want to know what made this employee unravel and become involved in a situation that became so completely out of his control? Did he feel so isolated whilst overseas that he was thrown off balance and made some really bad decisions, both personally and professionally?
And what happened to the toilet! The mind boggles – your answers on a postcard, please!