Finally, I am going to leave the Navy. It was in the early 2004 which was also the last year of my contract with the Republic of Singapore Navy after serving for 9 years.
This came as a surprise to many of my friends. I was actually doing quite well in the Navy with a good record and route of Advancement (ROA). So why did I decided to leave the Navy? It will not be the best option that time because the economy was very bad and barely recovering from the effect of SARS. To find a job in the corporate world will not be easy, not to mentioned I have ZERO experience.
Why then do I still make this decision?
In some of my earlier post, I mentioned that I was in debts of tens of thousand of dollars. I really have no means to repay these debts accumulated through my younger day lifestyles. I owed many credit cards bills and loan bank loan. It was to the point that the banks are taking legal actions against me. Being in the administration department of the Navy, I had seen and handled countless of such cases. Most of these cases ended with a arrangement of pay freeze and on the more serious note, dishonorable discharge from the service. I guess I will also be one of such cases.
What was the effect it has on me?
At that point of time, I am just a couple of months away from my ORD, completing my contract in full term and I will also be given a sum of gratuity of about $12,000 dollar. If I will to be discharged, I may lose the gratuity. Therefore, my priority will be to hang on to the job and getting temporary loans from whomever I knew to pay the minimum sum.
I know that for sure I cannot allow my salary to be freezed. I'll still need to provide for my family and my baby boy. I just hope that I can "camouflage" till my ORD. Time was really crawling although its just a few months. Emotionally, I was so stressed up because I keep it a secret all by myself. Even my wife and family doesn't know about it. I acted as per normal when I am at home. However, my relationship with my wife took a deep dived. I ended up having more frequent quarrels with her even over the smallest mustard seeds issues. Still, I kept the truth from her. Its really pointless to have add burden and stress to another person. Problems still remain unresolved. In fact, in order not to be discriminated by my Nay colleague, I project myself as a "rich" guy in front of my colleagues, always fighting to foot the bills whenever I could. In their eyes, I am one who had "great" plans after I ORDed and I will "survive" better than in the Navy. I am living in double identity.
Deep in my heart, I have already make a decision to resign to my fate of bankruptcy. I have no means and of course, no intention to repay the bank. My intention is to keep as much money as possible and every possible means. Even when I ORDed, I will look for jobs that doesn't pay CPF so that I could not be "tracked".
The day finally came. 4 July 2004, I am officially free from the Navy. I have also received the gratuity sum which will be enough to see us through for a good few months. I started looking around for jobs. Although I graduated with a bachelor degree, I could not find a job. Out of the many resumes I sent, there was few respond. I still remember clearly one of the company willing to employ me. Guess what, he wanted to exploit me. He gave me an offer of $1500 before CPF. That was absurd. This price for a degree holder? not to mention providing for the family after CPF deductions. It was NOT enough at all.
It was very devastating for me. It has been a few weeks since I ORDed. I have yet to find a job and the money from the gratuity was lessening day by day. In September 2004, I was blessed with another baby. My wife was pregnant with our second child. Was it a bad news to me? How am I suppose to provide for the family? To be honest, I did slid into the state of depression. I roamed the street aimlessly everyday. Sometime, I even hope that a car will bang me and I die in the accident. My family will then be able to survive on insurance payout. I know you may laughed at my reaction and thoughts.
What will you do then?
The fact remains. The baby need to be fed. On many occasions, I actually bought one piece of roti prata ($0.50) and request more curry gravy so that I can eat plain bread with it.
While I was jobless, occasionally, I did many odd-jobs including manual labor job. My earning was just sufficient for my daily expenses.
My situation worsened. I have not been paying the utilities bills and finally, my electric supply was terminated. Left with no choice, I went to borrow money from one of my poly lecturer. He was so kind enough to gave me a loan and even offer my family a place to stay. I had enough of fate. I do not want to carry on this way. Since no one wants to employ me, I decided to start a business. I received financial blessing from my lecturer and support from my wife to start my own business.
The big question came. What business? After brain storming with some of my friends, we concluded that I can start a Delivery Service, be a Property Agent, Financial Planner or even F & B. Out of which, I thought F & B business is a better choice. Ultimately, who don't need to eat? There will be plenty of customers. The big problem was, I cannot cook. The best I could was maggi mee with egg.
This ended my quest for a business BUT this gave me an instinct. Food is the basic need of a humanity. Focusing on the basic needs will be one of the most "doable" business with minimal lack of customer. Bringing the context of "basic needs" into business world, I realised that most, if not all businesses cannot do with "business card". Business card is the basic needs of a business. Hor seh liao. That is it.... I want to be a business card supplier. This could be my way out.
My reflection: When there is life, there is hope.
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Following this will be the roller coastal ride of my "new" career and the start of my printing company Expressprint. Stay tuned!
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