July 2, 2008

SABIS, the Beginning

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , at 2:05 am by stephshimkooo

When reading the literature sent to me by SABIS, I noticed that it said that deaths in the family were not a reason to miss work or take a leave of absence unless it was an immediate family member. I read this and respected it. Besides, death cannot be planned for, so it’s not even as if there are ways to work around this.

I was at home for about a month after I came home from Korea and before I left for Emirates to teach with SABIS. Six days after I got home, my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 22 days later, he died. Since I am an adult with a good grasp of basic health needs, and since I had my summer off without children or work obligations, I spent almost every day and a lot of nights with him at the hospital, doing my best to make him as comfortable as possible.

During this time, the SABIS HR staff and the people from the travel agency that they use would call me at all hours of the night and day asking me for information about what airport I wanted to leave from and if I had all of my paperwork in order (they had given me incomplete directions regarding what I needed to do, but that’s a different story). The most frustrating part about it was that I had sent them and/or told them this information over the phone or via email, without exaggeration, at least four times. During all of this trouble, I asked them for details regarding my flight so I could prepare, and I was never given any such information.

Eventually, on the morning of August 11th, I received a phone call before dawn from the travel agent, who first of all apologized for calling me at 5a.m. She followed this up by saying she was issuing me a ticket for “later today” meaning the 11th. “No you’re not,” I said. She then told me that I had to go, otherwise I might miss some training. I told them that they hired me over two months before, so there was no reason they should be issuing a me a ticket the day before they wanted me there. I agreed to leave the following day, August 12th, equaling less than 36 hours notice. Despite my grandfather’s condition, I did not ask for more than a day’s delay, and the delay that I requested was more to get myself ready than about my grandfather. I did not ask for a temporary leave of absence. His condition was precarious but nobody knew when his suffering would end, so I didn’t think it wise to lose my job over something that over which I had no control

He died at 10:30p.m. on August 11, 2007 on Saturday. I was at the airport, ready to leave at 3p.m. on Sunday. I did not ask for a delay. I did not ask for a grieving period. I got on the airplane to start my new life all over again.