Until now I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 29 by the way) but I did some trial and error with life. Nothing came out good or satisfying but I am not ready to quit just yet.

I tried becoming a doctor for a year, I mean just some simple introduction to Biology. It was one of the most interesting subjects but I don’t really care about the names of all the enzymes and bacterias inside my mouth, what fungus grows on your feet or the thermodynamics of the body fluids.

I really don’t.

So I copied my friend’s option in the university column and I got the 6th option. Woohoo! I got the same course as my best friend. I’ve never felt so happy!

But what the hell’s Environmental Technology?

I’ve been told it’s the course of the century. It has a bright future. This course has guarantee for jobs and you’ll be paid well by the factory. The Malaysian Environmental Act 1976 and supported by the Department of Environment of Malaysia require all factory regardless of any kind to have an Environmental Officer in their premises.

You just need to graduate and you’ll be picked up by your employee in no time. What blessing, right?

For those who didn’t know, Environmental Technology is one of engineering branches. You can easily apply for a chemical engineering, process engineering or environmental engineering jobs. The subjects are all the same. It’s called ‘technology’ because the course is due in 3 years while engineering course in 4.

Guess how long I did mine 🙂


I know. Brilliant, isn’t it?

Let me tell you what is actually an Environmental Officer.

The job existed because of pollution. In factories or many industries, these pollutions are at its worst. It could be water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution or simply the usual land pollution. Water used to cool off boilers should not be pumped directly to the rivers, or heavy metals used to treat the factory’s product should be treated first before contained and send to disposal sites, any dangerous gas released by these heavy metal should be filtered, all toxic and volatile compounds should be stabilize and send to appropriate party for further actions. The Environmental Officer also sometimes act as safety officer, who would make sure that the employees should have put on all their protective gears every time they are in their sites and have all the explanation why they should. For example, they should wear their headphones so that they won’t be deaf in 5 years due to the racket the machines was making. Rubber boots on so you won’t be electrocuted. Rules must be obeyed and this goes for everyone.

It’s an important job, isn’t it?

It sounds like having a private officer monitoring the factory so the Department of Environment could focus on other things like monitoring public open burning from a helicopter ( I admit I am jealous. They got the easy one.)

Still I have to say that I am not the least interested in trying to protect the environment because I would be the only person doing it all.

I was having second thoughts as I go along. I don’t think I want to graduate and spend the rest of my life cleaning up other people’s mess.

You see, factories (aka the big boss) doesn’t want people constantly telling them what to do. All they want is to mass produce a product the cheapest way possible and earn as much money possible in the shortest time. They don’t care about the environment. They will need to spend more in cleaning up, treating sewage and filtering so they will make you to agree with them in terms of allegedly ‘alter’ the reports to be send to the authorities. They’re the ones who pay you so whatever complains or moral values you have will not effect them in the long run.

Also, there is a big hole in the Environmental Act 1976 and nobody can do anything about it until it’s amended. A factory has the right to continue polluting the environment as long as they are paying the authorities a special license to pollute given through special terms and conditions. For example the authorities found out Factory A was polluting a river with heavy metals and instructed them to move to other premises or shut the factory down, they can pollute the river until a new premise is found or constructed on their behalf, that would take several years. They just need to pay them several thousand ringgits. I don’t know what happens to the money, either it’s use to clean up the mess or for other things that I dare not assume.

So during my final semester I left the university after coming back from my semester break in Madrid. I can’t do this any longer. After a year of thinking and studying Spanish, I return to the university to finish the degree. The Head of Environmental Technology Division was so excited he even requested my presence at his farewell. He doesn’t even want to listen to my explanation.

“You came back. That’s the only thing that matters. Other people don’t. Thank you very much for coming back.”

I should have been the person thanking him. He trusted me and I gave him my word that I would stay and finish what I started. I always have this grand admiration of him.

His favourite quote is ‘if you want to fail, do it gloriously.’

I like it a lot.

He seemed to know things that I didn’t know about myself. He also knew that I am not finished gambling with my life. There is always room for improvement and I have more trials and errors in the making.

I am not done trying, at least not yet for now. I’ll worry about the errors later when I sit down and tell my grandchildren that you don’t simply enter Morocco without a visa because they’ll put you up in a room full of sexually deprived men dressed as custom officers and sent you back alone in a 5 hour ferry ride to Algeciras and all you can do is pray, ignore the foreign hairy hands squishing your behind and tell yourself to hold on. This, however worse it might get, will soon pass. To be honest, I would much prefer my errors to not include them as a package.

But I am safe and I will try until I got it right. Must be a beautiful day, that day when all these will start to make sense, for once and for all.

2 thoughts on “Trial and Error

  1. Love your blog! Your writing is awesome and I just can’t stop reading them. Your life’s trials and error seems to relate to everyone.. and it’s comforting to know that you’ve found ways to overcome those errors.

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