Watching Someone Quit At A Park Hyatt

Okay, so it wasn’t a hotel employee, but it was still pretty amusing. šŸ˜‰

Yesterday afternoon I had to check out of the Park Hyatt Seoul at 4PM, though my flight wasn’t until midnight (well, at least in theory… until it wasn’t). I still had some work to get done, so decided to sit in The Lounge, which is the name of the lobby lounge on the 24th floor, so that I could have dinner while using wifi.

It’s a gorgeous space and the service is exceptional…. so good that it’s comical.

Park-Hyatt-Seoul-05

I had a lovely Korean dish, so was generally a happy camper.

Park-Hyatt-Seoul-64

About halfway through the meal two people sit down at the table next to me. They were both maybe in their late 20s or early 30s, and I believe the guy was Chinese, while I believe the girl was Korean. They communicated in English.

I couldn’t actually hear much of what he was saying, but I heard every single word she said, because she had no sense of tone.

I wasn’t intending to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help but overhear how disparagingly she was communicating with the server, who was delightful. I think how someone interacts with people that work in the service industry says a lot about them and the person they are.

They ordered a still water, sparkling water, espresso, and coffee, and the server tried to ask a few clarification questions (what type of water she wanted, what she wanted in her coffee, etc.). She snapped back “just get me what I want and stop asking so many questions.” Unbelievable. I do have a really big mouth, so in situations like these I have to use a lot of restraint not to call these jerks out.

Okay, at this point I started eavesdropping, as I was curious about the dynamic between the two.

The dude seemed to work for her… and their dynamic seemed kinda cold… and OMG HE WAS ACTUALLY QUITTING HIS JOB!

He explained he’s not paid enough, doesn’t have any time off, and doesn’t feel he’s valued. He explained that his wife isn’t happy with his job, since he never has time for her. I assume that was partly an easy excuse so that no feelings were hurt (based on how she treated the server, I can only imagine how she treats the people she works with).

For the next two hours I sat there and listened to what was possibly the most ridiculous one-sided conversation I’ve heard in my life. She didn’t seem to understand he had made up his mind and was quitting, and thought the way to get him to change his mind was to intimidate him. Whatever product they’re working on is “launching” in 10 days (October 16), so she kept emphasizing how horrible he was for wanting to quit right before the launch:

  • “It sounds like you and your wife might have other issues and that work isn’t really the problem. What does this say about your wife? Is she this weak and selfish of a person?”
  • “But do you not explain to your wife the sacrifice you’re putting in for the future? If you stick with me you will be retired at 45. You can live on a private island and have your own private school for your children.”
  • “We are helping the world with what we do. Do you not want to help the world?”
  • “Well I’m happy you shared with me how you feel, this is valuable. And the timing is good, because I was going to give you a reality check soon as well, to put you back in your place.”
  • “How do you think you will get a job in the future? What do you think it says to future employers that you’re a quitter and that you don’t follow through with what you start?”
  • “Why don’t you let me have a meeting with your wife so I can explain to her all the great things you’re doing?”

The lady was the most patronizing bitch I’ve ever witnessed, and he just couldn’t have been calmer about the whole situation. “Well then do me a favor. Just attend the launch and we will see what happens from there.” He stayed calm and kept explaining he really didn’t want to. “But as a friend, do me a favor and attend the launch. Bring your wife so she can see what you’re doing, and then she will want you to keep working on this.” He didn’t want to .”Well what will you do for the next 10 days then? Sit at home and watch TV?”

The best part is that after each of the above “questions” she would wait for him to respond and then say “well I’m just trying to help you, that’s why I’m asking so many questions.”

After disparaging him for two hours and not getting that “I quit” means “I quit,” she asked if he could at least recommend someone to replace him, and stay on until he finds and trains that person. That’s right, he’s supposed to find the replacement.

As they were finishing up their talk I finally left, and I think the guy had sensed that I overheard a lot of the conversation. I subtly shook my head and widened my eyes, and he smirked.

Fun times! And I know it will sound crazy to some, but it’s what I love about foreign luxury hotels. The conversations you overhear in a lobby bar are usually worth way more than the cost of the overpriced drinks!

Comments

  1. oh sweet little Ben… you have no idea what it’s like to have a boss or to work for corporate America… most of us are treated like this every day.

  2. I second Lantean on that.

    As for conversations at hotel bars, I think the funnier ones are overhearing Jane Does try to pick up lonely guys at the hotel bar (where the lonely guys think the Jane Does are just friendly women until they put 2 and 2 together..) šŸ˜‰

  3. Just wondering what relevance does either of their races play in this story?
    You “believe” that he was Chinese and “believe” that she was Korean?
    Really ?!?! totally unnecessary.

  4. @ Belltown Brian – Obviously, Lucky just wants to brag about his ability to “divine” one’s nationality by his or her looks. šŸ˜‰

  5. Speaking of which, my rule-of-thumb for determining someone’s nationality is by looking at his/her passport.

    Obviously, Lucky was acting with the same assumption when he flashed his EU passport at some unruly British kids who took issue with Ben’s American (?) accent a few years ago.

  6. @Brian – Why so sensitive? He’s telling a story and painting the picture. That’s what a good story teller does.

    Why aren’t you all up in arms because he estimated their ages? Or because he revealed their genders.

    The race sensitivity with some people is ridiculous.

  7. Dear Belltown Brian,

    You are mistaken.

    The race is human for both of them, the CULTURE, however, plays a very special role. There are different aspects of each culture when it comes to working. We all know american`s work hard, just as much as it might come to your attention anytime soon that chinese people are used to being submissive to their employers, because the market is SO competitive and are loads of chineses unemployed. I don’t know how jobs and oportunity ate treated in Korea, so it does change a bit.

    You see. Sometimes, racism is in the head of the reader, not the writer.

  8. I wonder what conversation she thought they were going to have. I wouldn’t bring someone to a fancy hotel for a two hour resignation. That’s about a 10 minute chat in a conference room. Tops.

  9. @ Neil S. — I think she thought she was going to provide him with feedback on the job he’s doing and “put him back in his place.”

  10. @ Lucky, Murphy, and Fernando D`aquino – The mention of the presumed race or ethnicity of an individual is OK as far as your mention of ethnicity is consistent across all your posts. In other words, if you gloss over ethnicity in most of your posts while making it a prominent feature in one or two posts, especially those regarding a culture you’re distant from, you deserve all the charges of bias and prejudice we throw at you.

    On another note, the ease with which Lucky identifies a stranger’s nationality remains something of a mystery to me. How can someone who speaks English with such fluency as you describe be labelled Korean just because of her appearance?

    In multicultural societies like the U.S., this marginalization of ethnic minorities is a serious issue, in my opinion. This is happening so prevalently on TV, in films, and in politics, that it’s not even funny. I just hope a blogger whose posts are so informative and make me laugh at times does not fall prey to this epidemic.

  11. sorry guys but YOU are the naive little ones if you think that treatment like this is par for the course, in corporate america or anywhere in the world. if you spend your professional lives being shit on day in and day out, i’m hoping one day soon you’ll mature to the point where you realize it’s NOT a prerequisite for success and you’ll venture off to find something better.

    had to chuckle at the false promises boss lady made. i remember being 27 and my CEO telling me that i was on the path to being very rich and retiring at 40, if i just hung in there with him. it was a sinking ship. truly successful operations don’t need to remind their employees of what lies ahead.

  12. Wow, the fact that she is a supervisor of people is really sad.

    Not only is she a horrible person (she never really tried to listen to his reasons, but tried to “blame” his wife for his quitting), but she’s a terrible manager as well. It’s interesting to me that people like this get to level they are (whatever that level is beside “junior hew hire”) when they do so little to cultivate loyalty from those that can help them ascend further. “Managing up” with own managing down is not usually the recipe for success.

    One might suspect that her launch will fail.

  13. @ Juergen — Not sure why this is such a sore point for you. She kept talking about the Korean market and how she has lived there all her life, while she also talked about how valuable he is since he understands the Chinese culture and speaks Chinese. Based on the fact that they were communicating in English, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to state that she *may* have been Korean and he *may* have been Chinese.

    And culture really does matter when it comes to business. Just look at the different ways in which business people from China, India, and Japan negotiate and deal with one another. It’s fascinating.

  14. @ Lucky – Sorry for overreacting a bit. Now that I get the full context, I understand where you’re coming from and trust the veracity of your claims. Thanks for clarifying it for me.

  15. The “intimidation” angle is interesting, because the traditional line about the communal values of a lot of Asian cultures would suggest that these kind of arguments could be persuasive, since people tend to care a lot about the groups they belong in. Of course, that would probably mean he had already gone through all of these arguments on his own or with his wife and still decided that the job sucked, so there probably wasn’t much need for her to reiterate the arguments, but still.

  16. @ Bgriff – Your observation is interesting but doesn’t connect very well with what the lady actually put forth: that she wants him to stick around so that *he* can get super rich and have a good life. Note the emphasis is on his individual success rather than any group he belongs to. In other words, I read no such appeal to community values as you mention with so much certainty. Perhaps you’re trying to fit the narrative into your stereotypical assumptions about Asian cultures? šŸ˜‰

  17. This is why your blog is so damn good! Original, entertaining, informative, etc. etc.

    If only a certain “quirky”, fat, over jealous, referral thieving Boardingarea counterpart can do the same.

  18. @Lucky, I don’t think people are bothered by what YOU said specifically. Just probably commenting on a larger issue in society is all. It’s kind of like every time the news reports a crime they always have to point out a black person did it but when a white person commits the same crime they just say “suspect” or “person”. It’s weird and it sucks but things will improve. Hey maybe when you report stuff and the person (people) you’re talking about look, well… you know “American” rather than “hyphen Americans” you should point out that they were “White-Americans, German-American, Italian-American”. Then maybe people will get less pissy.

    All this reminded me of last week’s SNL clip.
    http://youtu.be/87OfXVSSQQg

    In closing, Lucky you should remember to include us too. Remember, as the clip implies. WHITES, we’re people too.

  19. I was in the lobby bar at the Waldorf in Manhattan during early May a couple of years ago and overheard a guy say to the person on the other end of the phone, “Well, good luck with the Derby.” I got the impression that the person had a lot riding on the events in Kentucky that day. Get it – “riding”? Ha.

  20. Ben,

    Hah, I had something similar happen. I had two job offers and accepted one and called to decline the other one and the guy started yelling at me and insisted I had to take the job. I eventually had to hang up.

    I also had another job interview and the hiring manager and the staffer spent 45 min bitching and moaning about every way in which the job and company sucked. I didn’t even get to the car before the recruiter called and said, “They loved you, when can you start.”

  21. I just try not to pride myself as being a globetrotter/cosmopolitan/renaissance man while being completely hidebound in my thoughts. I realize expecting others to behave the same sometimes makes me look like an a%%hole, for sure.

  22. @ LarryInNYC — No clue. Maybe because she was in front of someone that didn’t want to speak Korean, so she didn’t want to speak a foreign language in front of him?

  23. It’s just a blog story! Must it be analyzed and dissected like it’s a doctoral dissertation? Man, people need to get lives! Ben, I bet it makes you wonder why bother some times.

  24. I love your post when you write your experience, knowledge or exposure to different cultures in the world. I am interested in what travelers to foreign countries learn about the host country’s culture,people, and history rather than premium cabins and luxury chain hotels, areas that I don’t fit in. It irks me that some expect other cultures to adapt common practices here in their countries. Personally, I won’t work for Asian employer and prefer not to have a, female boss, though I am both. Confucianism teaches people not to question or challenge the authority and elderly, something that discourages them from being innovative and creative. I think the only way that you can extricate yourself from being captive to your employer is to become consumer debt free and not succumb to materialistic lifestyle. You will not be at the mercy of your employer/ employee, the lender and the landlord if you are debt free. It’s my number one freedom that I treasure. If you are non-white travel, work or live overseas, nobody believes that you are American, unless you tell them the country that identifies your appearance. Being white American male in volatile region makes you the number one target because your life is worth more to American officials than other non-white Americans. Prejudice and racism are more prevalent and somewhat acceptable in the world than in this country. And that tends to exist more among non-whites than whites.

  25. I get that it’s a stressful work environment and the boss sounds like a terrible person to work with, but I wouldn’t give this guy a whole lot of credit either for asking to quit right before his own product launch (whatever it means, presumably something important that they can’t continue without him) and unwilling to stick it out for two more weeks.

    One person leaving the job often has rippling effects on the company and other members of the team. His choice of timing feels like a revenge timed to screw the boss over, which, despite understandable, reflects poorly on his sense of professionalism.

  26. His choice of timing feels like a revenge timed to screw the boss over, which, despite understandable, reflects poorly on his sense of professionalism.

    She is never going to change her ways if she doesn’t get f-d over a few times. He’s doing all her future direct reports a favor.

  27. Sounds like someone that works for Samsung. They’re Korean company and I believe they’re launching their next Galaxy Note around that time.

  28. Haha great post, Ben – this is what makes your blog stand out from so many others, love it šŸ˜€

  29. I freaking love this post lol.

    Splurge posts like this are what have recently bombed Lucky’s blog into my top 3 favorites. I love ThePointsGuy, but theres just not enough comic relief for me.

    Thanks for the laugh, Luck.

  30. Mentioning someones nationality could be effective when writing a post but i guess only in a neutral way. You also said she was a bitch without giving us the details why you thought she was korean. Maybe some people are sensetive in that regard. Without the full story, the nationality thing was probably unnecessary…did we really need to know it to enjoy the story?

  31. Don’t know why people are jumping to the conclusion that Ben guessed the pair’s nationality based purely on “looks.”

    More likely it was based on their accents. With some experience it’s not that hard to pick out a Korean or Chinese accent. And the way they dress, use body language, etc give additional clues.

  32. Everyone I know, including myself, has had a shitty boss like this one! Haha! Luckily, it was a straight out of college job and I was only in it to survive until I found something better. This sounds like an entertaining convo to eavesdrop on! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall. She’ll keep losing assistants and will likely never truly be successful because she doesn’t know how to treat people and no one will want to help her be successful because she’s a jerk.

  33. Koupla weeks in Seoul this summer for me – many very kind and friendly people of course, but many of the business folks I met were cold and tough … seemed like they could turn a harsh assertiveness on and off like throwing a switch, too. Other cultures are a fascination. Your perception and description — yup.

  34. Typical Korean boss behavior. The corporate culture supports this abuse here – no wonder the guy is quitting, and no wonder most educated South Koreans are dreaming of leaving this country.

    Greetings from an expat miles & points enthusiast in Seoul šŸ™‚

  35. Lucky, ref your comment @2.07pm, it seems more likely that the woman is Chinese instead. That explains the part where she has lived there (Korea) all her life.

    Besides, a younger Korean woman probably wouldn’t snap at the local server (in English) in that manner.

  36. Btw, the meal in second pic looks fantastic. Especially that beautifully presented bowl of veg/lettuce

  37. @ Papa Smurf — It was definitely more of a startup, because she did say “what are you going to do, go and have a regular white collar job at Samsung where you’ll never make it up the ladder?”

  38. That crazy woman. She needs to get it together. I hope she paid the bill.

    There’s three launches I know about for Oct 16. An Indian navigation satellite launching from India, a Argentinian satelitte (for DirecTV) launching from French Guiana, and the (rumored) iPad Air 2 launch.

    All three launches help the world šŸ™‚

  39. @ DT — She explained he’s the only one at the company that speaks the language, so I don’t think so.

  40. I’ve always believed in the saying, “A perosn who is nice to you but is rude to the waiter is not a nice person”. Good on the guy for sticking to his decision! That conversation must have been painful to hear.

  41. I’ve worked in airports for 20 years and I can tell straight away from their features what background they are as in race (Asian)

    Majority of corporate Asian females are fierce and I reckon wear strap ons

  42. It’s stories like these that I love hearing from you, Ben. It’s also more interesting when you paint a picture with words. Sure, you might be making assumptions (like racial identities) but when you’re telling a story, it’s nice for me as a reader to be able to ‘see’ that. There was no bias or racism intended and I can see that.

    But it’s sad that, while you’re always flying at 40,000 feet, there are still people who tower over you when they stand on their pedestals, adorned with their holier-than-thou halos.

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