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Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Formal Syntax

In Boss, Interpersonal, Office humor on October 29, 2011 at 23:05

You never trained for speed reading. But it seems to come naturally when going through official communication. Meant to confuse, stall or otherwise bore you to death, official mails sound like your pastor and second grade teacher combined.

Sometimes you worry you may have missed something important. But this notion is brought to rest when you notice a strange syntax in Head Slave’s latest one liner:

What was that at the end? Is it a typoed full stop? Could it be…? Do you think?

After a couple of minutes of staring at the back-lit screen, you have to accept the horror that is upon you: HS has finally taken to emoticons! You re-check to ascertain the exact nature of the syntax in question. Is it really smiling? HS has never been known to smile in person. Some say he is physically incapable of doing so.

This is a guy who uses words like gumption for one. And the uncoolness of exchanging smileys with your boss is rivaled only by your Mom adding you on Facebook! But there it is, staring at you at the end of another cryptic one liner sent from his fruity phone.

What is next? Will he start mouthing lol in conversations? Will he ‘super like’ suggestions during meetings? You cannot let this blasphemy unravel. So you send this reply:

You almost used ‘yours truly’ but it always creeps you out. All you can do now is hope that you do not have to encounter an emoticon on a firewall sanctioned webpage again.

–          J.

Theme Song

In Boss, conspiracy theories, Office humor, Organisation, Wage Slaves on October 24, 2011 at 02:22

Wide smiles, vibrant colors and perfect sunsets. Community, camaraderie…utopia. No twisted ankles, no traffic jams, no troubles. No stress, no back aches, no empty calories. You can also sense vague but spastic music and distantly jarring rhymes.

No, you are not at the carnival nor have you licked a stamp. You are being subjected to…the corporate theme song. More pompous than a self-titled rap album, more lame than a Friends re-run, it seems custom made to irk, itch and ­annoy. There are more ethnic varieties of employees than the United Nation’s Assembly, more scene-esque locales than a tourism commercial. For a creature of the cubicle such as you, this seems cruel and unusual punishment. But it could be worse: may be there are subliminal slave control messages in the video.

Since you have to stand up every darn time they play it, letting your mind drift is also difficult. The best you can do is mix truly felt contempt with plastered-on smile to produce a neutral look on your face. By the time the second verse starts, cracks are appearing on your solemn face, revealing lines of dissent. With immaculate timing, Head Slave catches you by the elbow. ‘Sing along sport!’ he bellows over the music. You didn’t even notice he had crawled next to you, so enthralling were the stock images in the video. Now you will have to pay some improvised lip service. Your mouth is already half open in mock-sing along but no voice escapes it. Lip syncing is easy when you are standing next to the speaker but it would be a lot easier if you knew the lyrics. The emotion you need is ‘Acme Sales Corporation: A wholly owned subsidiary of Acme International is God’s gift to mankind.’ But you would have to be method actor to fake it.

You survive this round but there will be no escaping come the sales meeting you have to conduct next week. Not only will you have to ‘sing’, you will have to get fellow slaves to participate. In the absence of options, you will manage somehow. At least, you will use the word sell-out more prudently in the future.

– J.

That‘s a lot of fat people

In Boss, Head Slave, humor, Office, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on October 17, 2011 at 00:01

You never liked too much preparation. Right from science projects in school to your first date and now, slavery solicitations. It has always seemed uncalled for; deceptive even, to build an Ark every time it drizzles. If ‘awareness’ was as high as it is now, you would have probably been diagnosed with ADD in your childhood. Sure stand-ups and musicians prepare copiously to look like they are improvising. But there is a big difference, they don’t hate their jobs.

“Do it like your lives depend on it!” was Head Slave’s unimaginative attempt at pep talk. You wish you had come up with a better response than a stifled yawn. But it could have been worse; you could have let loose a knee-jerk chuckle. It is the latest version of ‘the big presentation’ that needs working on. Post 5th revision, it has gone from big to morbidly obese. You have been paddling for too many years to let a little pep talk motivate you. So you let the new pair of hands on the deck carry the load. Unfortunately, you cannot send them out to bat. You have been bestowed with that honor/led out to slaughter when SIC visits.

As rapture draws near, you willy-nilly get sucked into the paranoia. Sleep is the first victim of this boot camp routine, weekly offs are the last. When you are finally up against the audience on D-day, you feel like a doomed gladiator under the scope of a heavy-breathing audience. You feel more pressure than an ethnic student in a spelling bee final. All you can think of is: ‘Where is an out-of-body experience when you need one?’

You do manage to make it almost to the end of your Bible-sized presentation without questions, queries or quotations. It is the closest thing to a spiritual experience you will ever go through. That is when the sound of a fellow human grinds you to a halt like a hand brake. SIC has finally spoken. You did not get what he said but going by his gestures, another look at the previous slide on obesity demographics is what he wanted.

So you flip back and wait nervously. As SIC ‘hmms’ and ‘ahhs’, the meeting room seems caught in a never-ending final slowmo sequence of a tiring baseball movie. He finally says:

“Well, that ‘s a lot of fat people!”

.

.

.

It is the kind of silence that can only end with a well timed laugh or a lot of nodding. Luckily it is the former. What follows is a wave of banter, chit-chat and small-talk as SIC disappears into a Sudoku of handshakes. It is almost as if he vanished into smoke. You would say he was beamed up but you are not a fan of body suits. Both SIC and the topic of the ‘big presentation’ have not been seen or heard from since…

…until the next drill.

J.

Salary Slip

In Hopsquatch, HR, humor, nine to five, Office humor, Wage Slaves on October 10, 2011 at 03:58

Here it is, in black and white. It would be in shades but you know how expensive color printing is. There is something about seeing your remuneration (hope I spelt that correctly) in utter specifics. The surrealism of the experience contrasts with the placid demeanor of the numbers. You are, of course, face-to-face with your salary slip (sic).

This is it. Five days a week (sometimes six), nine hours a day (sometimes twelve) and unquantifiable brain damage gets you only this much. How can one make a decent living on this? More importantly, would you know a decent living if it you in the Bahamas?

Long repressed panic is finally setting in. You should do something about this, but what? Should you start a twitter campaign or a facebook page? Seems juvenile. Should you take it up with HR (seriously)? You signed the deal yourself. You would only be making a (bigger) fool of yourself if you raise a query.

 

Damn those lawyers who draft employment contracts with the ‘fine print’. They must be part of Lucifer’s Legions; for God has surely stopped residing in the details. Maybe you should groom your son to be a lawyer to take revenge on the world/society.

You want to tear, crumple and other wise mangle the salary slip. But printing is at a premium and you remember something about a ‘Save trees’ campaign you had to sign recently.

The thought of the last bus out of town departing in another ten minutes re-introduces you with gravity. Momentary rage having been tamed like a prison riot, you carefully fold and keep the salary slip in a folder. Three consecutive proofs of bondage are required to change galleys.

– J.

Karma of the Commute

In Commute, humor, Office humor, Wage Slaves on October 3, 2011 at 14:42

The final stretch will decide the fate of your day. Like a fifth set tie-breaker or the final of forty laps, you are running purely on adrenaline. That is how you started the day too. Down in the 5th base, you have got to suck it up, put in the long yards and control the sports analogies. Post the morning high, it has all been downhill as expected. But the day ain’t over yet. Not until you clear the obstacle course that separates your quarters from your galley.

You are, of course, referring to your eventual bus ride home. It is the most sporty thing you do all day. You do not exactly look forward to it. But it is amazing how resourceful one can be in the absence of options. As the fateful vehicle approaches, you become aware of an impatient, heavy breathing flock of fellow slaves around you. This is not going to be easy. But what would life be without competition?

As you jump, lunge and land, predator-like focus takes over your senses. The only thought that comes to your mind is: ‘This would look really cool in animation!’

 

Most slaves have developed their own techniques: elbowing, blocking, side-stepping and toe-crushing. You too have to play ball for the prize. Looking prim is the least of your worries right now and civility a distant acquaintance. Like sniffers trained to lunge at the prize, you and fellow slaves scamper for the few and vacant seats.

You see your target, a vacant aisle seat on the left. With random precision, you spill into the seat. The look of reclusive relief on your face seems to say: ‘Life is not so bad after all!’

Having caught your breath, you look around at the losers who could not corner a seat. A lady standing right next to your seat catches your nearly gloating eye. She is uncomfortably contained in her formals and has a familiar look of disappointment on her face. You had the same look on yesterday when a miscalculated side-step cost you a coveted seat.

You get up, at once compelled, and offer your seat to the morose lady who takes it in disbelief. As you hang on in the public transport vehicle, your legs are wary but your eyes have a glint. Good deed in bag, free will practiced, you have salvaged an otherwise forgettable day.

–          J.