It is a very long process for me to seat in the ladder as a Branch Manager in Bank BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia), it took 5 years. Actually my definite status was a Vice Branch manager at Kupang, capital of East Nusatenggara, 2 or hours flight from Bali. The only Vice Branch Manager in this province of 12 branches in separated islands.
That is why, when one of the Branch manager took a regular leaved for 2 weeks, Regional manager wired my Boss to replaced them. Almost in two year, I'd been a care taker for 7 (seven) times in seven Branches.
This happened in quite a short period of time between last 1970s to early 1971s.
Feeling good, sitting in a black soft huge leather chair and big desk, top position in the branch.
Dreaming to be a Branch manager in the near future at least in this region.
But spending 14 working days in different district, different environment, circumtance, cultures, sometime felt lonely, alone, left my family behind in another island. The branches located far away in a district had a very small towns, no places to go on weekend. Not much interesting places to go except to the beaches or visit local kings tombs in Waingapu, Sumba island, shopping bracelets made of Stegodon Elephant in Maumere town or visit Komodo as a miracles creatures in the world in small island, west side of Flores island.
My relationship with local personnel not so close, because I knew nothing about their background. As a branch manager, I should keep distance with them. This is a Corporate cultures in Bank BRI environment inherited from Dutch era that Branch manager isolated just like a King, sitting in a throne, never do no wrong.
To killed the time, I took jogging early in the morning in Waingapu, Sumba island, went to the beach, shoothing the birds at Waikabubak, where there were so many exotic birds.
In working hours, from 7 am - 2 pm, my job relatively light, signed the regular reports to regional and head office, signed funds transfer to another branches, cash management and monitoring daily routine activities. Principle matters, policies, loan approvals or dishburhsement, should be waiting for the branch manager back to office.
The first assignment as a care taker happened when Mr.Untung Yaddy, Soe Branch, took 14 days leaved out to Java island. The distance to this branch 2 - 3 hours drive from my branch, Kupang.
The office hours start at 7 am, in the cool morning, since Soe town located in the high elevation.
In this fresh, cold weather, my forehead got sweating and confusing. I was unable to unlock the combination numbers of cash Vault.
This is my first time for me to open up a cash vault, combination numbers.
I'd tried several times to follow the secret password, to turn right twice, turn left once, turn right once again, stopped in certain number. The door keep shut still.
For the 4th time I'd tried again, keep the numbers precisely,,slow motion, breathless, turn to the last number, ...klick. Turn the handle, pull it up. Open. I'd made it.
This is my first time to open up cash vault, turned the combination numbers. The secret was, we should turn the numbers precisely, slowly, patient, breathless until the last numbers voice...click..
Pull up the door open easy if the number precisely.
I shoved my handkerchief in my pant's pocket, wipe the perspiration. Feel relieved, fortunately, only few costumers waiting in line for the cash.
The second care taker happened when my own Boss, Mr.Soeharto took a vacation. As a Vice Branch manager, automatically, I replaced him. No special asignment to be done until he returned. Vice branch manager treated just like job training for its preparation to become a full branch manager in the near future.
No special matters happened while he was away, except the car accident. The Red Corolla, car company crashed down, drove by my wife. She should pushed the break down, but he pushed the accelerator up instead. The wreckage needed to repair, repainting immediately before the Boss return to the office.
I scared to my toes, wonder what should he say.
I didn't believed when his lips curve, smile. He just smiling said :" Accident never happened by mistakes", he said after signed the authority paper and extended his hand. He was just like "smiling general -" an Autobiography book title, belong to Soeharto, Indonesia president.
Photo: Red Corolla in Old Regional office
The next branch to be taken care was in another island, Sumba. Two ditricts in this island with two branches. Waingapu branch in the east and Waikabubak in the west.
Only one small strip airport available in the island, located in west Sumba, near Waingapu town. In the east no airport so far in 1980s before Tambolaka new airport built later on. I'd replaced Mr.Benyamin, he leaved to West Java.
Heading to the east, I was escorted by a driver from Waingapu through hard dusting road in the middle of the night. Took a break, stepped outside, looking up to the dark blue sky, stars scattered everywhere to brighten the world, full aware not knowing my presence where about.
My muscles gotten hard, sitting straight over Toyota Jeep's seat through stone and dusting road, back and forth, rocking all over again until enter the town.
As my head touch the pillow, I was fallen to sleep immediately, deep until the sun light shine from the hole in my hotel window in the mid morning.
Nothing special in this small towns, just drive a Jeep, went to the beach on Sunday, took a long riffles lend by Mr Saragih, Waingapu branch manager. Learn to shoot the birds, but they swung their wings away when heard klicks sound.
Photo : Me, Mr.Hutape, Mr.Benjamin and Mr.Untung (back row)
Actually east Sumba island had two well known tourists places to go. The first one was local kings tombs built in a huge size concrete slabs.
They held a special ceremony to carried the slabs by the villagers from far away in another place to tombs site in king burial compound.
Photo :Mr.Saragih and me
The second attraction was horsemen war game between two groups. Unfortunately I didn't saw it, because I didn't came on regular performance time.
Not long after Mr.Saragih transffered to head office, Jakarta, he felt sick and passed away. He was still young with few small children.
The other two branches located in another island, Flores in the west side of Kupang, where Regional office located. In Maumere, Sikka district, I replaced Mr.Purba, my classmate in economic Gajah Mada University, Yogjakarta in early 1960s.
The last branch was Ruteng town in the western part of Flores island, where located in the mountain, cool weather some like Soe town in Timor island. The flight schedule sometime canceled due to the weather or fogging condition. Slept deep well every night enjoyed the fresh wind a whole day, even the sun was overhead.
I had the opportunity to visit Komodo in a small island close by, in the same district. Unfortunately, I miss it, worrisome if something happened on the way to the island, the Bank was under my responsibility.
Spend a lot of times as a Branch manager's care taker in leaving families behind, lonely in remotes islands, boring sharping my skill to manage my New, first as Branch manager at Atambua, soon in 1982