Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A rolling stone...

Wow, it's the new year already. On New Year's Day last year, I was in Temerloh attending a friend's wedding before heading to Kuantan where I spend the night. An unplanned exchange of messages during breakfast the next day saw me having afternoon tea with blogger Versedanggerik and her family. Later on the way back to Kuala Lumpur, I made a detour to Triang, somewhere deep in the Pahang heartland, to visit a nephew whose wife had just given birth.

For the first post of 2012, let's have a discussion on English proverbs for a change.

I spent the first half of last year based in KL, with my family rooted in JB. It was a regular trip up and down the North-South Expressway every other weekend. Sometimes driving but mostly on the express buses. It wasn't something I particularly liked but what to do? Later on in June, a friend introduced me to a job opportunity in Pontian and after a quick interview, I was offered the post. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, that job didn't last... but I decided to remain in Johor Bahru and look for something new. Alhamdulillah, I recently received an offer for a job that would put me back at familiar grounds.

I am what you call, a rolling stone. The full English proverb goes like this : A rolling stone gathers no moss. Now why would we want to gather moss, you may ask. Why not gather something more valuable? Well... proverbs being based on metaphors, are not meant to be understood literally. The meaning of this particular proverb is that if we move around too much (as opposed to sticking around for a long time), then we wouldn't be gaining much experience. Jumping from job to job is an obvious example.

I hadn't actually made a count of how many companies I have worked for since I graduated, until a few days ago. While updating my resume to include this latest appointment, I realised that I have been employed at eleven (11) different firms throughout my 27 years of working life. That number does not include a few short stints at companies owned by friends and relatives. Some people say that this hopping around is not a good thing. Perhaps they are right... but it is not that I purposely seek new jobs every few years just for the fun of it. Each and every job resignation I went through has its own story. Sometimes, things happen that are not within our control. But I'm not the type to live in regret although I admit that the constant job changes had caused difficulties.

I therefore do not fully agree with meaning of the proverb about rolling stones. While I may not have gained a deep knowledge of one particular field, my different job postings have afforded me with a varied exposure of civil engineering disciplines. In which case, another familiar English proverb would apply : a jack of all trades but the master of none. It's okay... I have accepted that I'm not a master, but the little that I know of a few specialised areas are valuable enough for me to survive on. Nonetheless, I do hope this present job will last for some time. A rolling stone can't go on rolling forever.

I may not have gathered moss by not staying still but I can tell you what I've gathered over the years... bank accounts. For the purpose of salary payment, different employers want me to open account at banks of their choice. To date, I have/had accounts at the following financial institutions :

- Malaysia Credit Finance (now defunct)
- HSBC Bank
- Bank Bumiputera (a/c revived as Bank Muamalat when BB went kaput)
- Public Bank
- Maybank
- CIMB Bank (this is the latest)

As I have mentioned previously, nak harapkan akaun bank je yang banyak, duit dalamnya tak se berapa...

The stones in Sungai Bernam that no longer roll...


JohorMali said...

Mr Oldstock,
Kinda admire your perseverence . It's no difference of being a wage earner or wage giver ( like me ). Perhaps at the end of the day, one should question oneself, " do I love what I am doing?".
So whether you'd be gathering moss or gold dust, the job satisfaction will decide whether you wish to carry on or not.
Be a master or slave to no one but yourself.

Anonymous said...

Fret not, dear Oldstock. Like you, I'm also a rolling stone. But I do it - as you might rightly put it - for mercenary reasons 'coz in my line of biz where expertise is scarce, I believe in "striking when the iron is hot" (another popular English proverb).


koolmokcikZ said...

Dear sir,

I am more than half a century old and I have always taken the meaning to be a person who is not settled [i.e always on the move or changing jobs] will not be able to accumulate wealth.

When I read your posting here, i google the idiom and was surprised to find that the meaning is the opposite though a note on the original meaning was mentioned.

Wonder when did the change take place because i have been using the idiom with the meaning i have always known it.

Well, that's language. To thrive and to be relevant, it couldn't afford to be static.

Thank you for sharing this. Wishing you a great year ahead.


Oldstock said...

Sdra JohorMali,

Thank you for that vote of confidence. The criteria you mention has been one of the considerations whenever I reach the stage of indecision. Unfortunately sometimes, when I find the job I love doing, the other party doesn't. And your last sentence is perhaps the best guide of all. Thank you again.

Oldstock said...

Dear Cara,

Seems that us high rollers are always game for challenges, aren't we? Hot irons or cold feet, we face them all, hehe...

Oldstock said...


I guess the part of unable to prosper financially applies to me perfectly. As I said, many bank accounts but hardly much dough in them.

I don't think I've heard the idiom applied with the opposite meaning though. But speaking figuratively, The Rolling Stones (rock band), must've surely made tons of money :-)

Wishing you a great year ahead too.

mamasita said...

Luckily you didn't have tehtarik with me!
In the afternoon I was still selekeh in the kitchen..phewh!

If ever nak ajak kena beritahu at least seminggu notice okay..hihi.

Versed lain lah..career ladies are always ever so prim and proper..:)

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Oldstock
11 companies in 27 years? I've been with NST for the same duration. In fact, it was my first and only job interview. I've got offers, considered some seriously but never made the move. Why? I'm still happy where I am although it can stressful at work at times.

Oldstock said...


Kalau nak bagi you one weeks notice, dah tak natural lagi ;-)

Oldstock said...

Salam Fauziah,

Some of my peers at my first workplace, are still there. A few are holding senior positions but most are just getting by. I was there for 7 years and had not actually planned to move... but the darah muda (at that time lah) got the better of me. But no regrets, of course.

I can understand when you mention about pressures at your workplace, but I'm sure you are experienced enough to see them through.... bak kata orang Melayu, dah lali. If the `push factor' is still manageable, then no need to leave.

Mamaboyz said...

salam mr oldstock,
i've not been commenting a long time.. but pls know that i read all your posts, cannot comment much on this topic since i only have a few yrs of working experience

how come no post on 2011 in pictures? i think u did that for 2010

Wan F said...

Tn. Oldstock,
I could be the grandest makcik communicating here. I am recently retired after over 35 years of service at the same work place. I moved around and vertically no doubt, but within the same organisational framework.
I don't mind the real work that was contributing to the said organisational/national growth, but the 'lain-lain arahan dari semasa ke semasa' were the ones putting me off. More so when they were in contradictions. Now I am really gathering moss but at peace and back to enjoying family life.

Oldstock said...

Salam Dr Wati,

You must have read my mind. I was actually thinking of doing my annual `Previous Year in Pics' posting (I did for 2009 and 2010). I combed through my archives and realised that there were some months last year where I didn't take any photos at all, not even from the lousy phone camera. So, rancangan terbantut sikit... but I'll still do something but with a slight twist. Wait for the next post :-)

And welcome back...

Oldstock said...

Puan Wan F,

Selamat menikmati alam persaraan :-)

Part `lain-lain arahan dari masa ke semasa' tu memang tak dpt kita elak, selagi jawatan bermakan gaji. I faced instances like these many times. I don't mind complying to such instructions but what riles me is that when things don't work out, the party who gave the instructions don't want to take responsibility.

Kak Wan ni baru je pencen... so not that old lah...