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Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Parking Spot

In Commute, Flexi Timings, HR, humor, Monday, Office humor, Routine on March 27, 2012 at 01:22

They say routine kills the man. But you can’t go renegade in a suit. And you can’t go bar hopping on weekdays…especially if you need to punch in 8 hours of solid rowing to earn your bread. So you build a routine for yourself to keep sane and healthy. It is like your own personal boot camp. It is designed to keep you compliant for now and fit for later, when your grand early retirement plans unfold (more on that later).

The great thing about routine is that it builds on itself. More and more days spent in the same manner with only a date to tell them apart. But let’s not get negative now. We need to think happy thoughts first thing in the morning.

You have left early and beat the morning rush, as planned. If you stay discrete, you will be able to utilize flexi timings, leave early and beat the rush in the evening again! A perfect Monday, who would have thought such a thing existed?

As you drive in, you almost bite your black tongue. The lot looks different, the entrance is ajar and your parking spot taken. You feel the kind of dread one does when the hero realizes a double-cross right before intermission.

Your sweet parking spot is taken. This early in the morning. Who could it be? Most colleagues and HS must still be in bed or cursing their alarm clocks. You hover around the Van that has taken your place. You ask the guard as you get down to inspect the violating vehicle up close.

‘It is that new lady in HR, sir’, says the guard sounding like he is unveiling a major development in a pot boiler.

‘The whole lot is empty, why does she have to park here?’ you ask rhetorically. Off course she will park here, it is right next to the exit.

Before the guard can answer, you shoot another rhetorical, ‘She brings her baby to the office?’ You are going by the most rage-inducing sticker in auto history that is stuck on her van:

‘Baby on Board’

‘I don’t know sir, but she does bring a rather large bag with her.’

You think of parking in such a way that she can’t move out without you backing out first. But your inner gentleman holds you back, ‘Not yet’ he whispers. You spend the rest of the day feeling uneasy, like an OCD patient forced to play scrabble in Russian!

What if this Van-driving early rising lady doesn’t change her routine? Worse, what if she asks you to car pool with her? To get up any earlier, you would have to brush while driving and shave in office. There is only one thing left to do.

She is not the only one who can let a sticker announce her disposition:

Yours will say:

Kill me, I am going to work!

–          J.

Pipe Music

In Casual Day, Friday, HR, humor, music system, Office humor, SlavesInc, work stress on March 22, 2012 at 17:38

It startles you out of your trance-like working state. A sound mellow in nature but sudden in occurrence spreads through your shackled surroundings. You look around at similarly dumb-founded fellow slaves. You look up at the heavens, Noah like, but are only greeted with the piercing fluorescent lamp and a security camera. Once you get over your initial queasiness, the sound which can almost be called music seems strangely déjà vu –ish.

This could only mean one thing:

It is pipe music day

(The horror!)

As if garish clothes courtesy casual day were not enough, you ears have to suffer too, via mass announced generic tunes.

More cheesy than elevator music, more awkward than a loo at a 5 star hotel and more pedestrian than a gimmicky restaurant, office pipe music will strain your ear for music, if you have one. Touted as having a positive effect on ‘employee productivity’, pipe music is as cutting edge as it gets in HR practices.

For the reluctant rower such as yourself, it is one more reason to have jangled nerves. To the more imaginative, it may even seem like subliminal mind control. By noon, you are so bugged that you are ready to believe ‘It’s a wonderful world’ played backwards’ sounds like Death to all Mankind or Type faster ye slave!

You know they are never going to play Hard Rock or even Reggae. But you do try slipping a CD to the Admin guy disguised as an engaged employee. His reluctance makes it clear that the ambience is just another chore for him. It is as routine as music on – music off for him, just like the lights, AC and server.

You have tried everything including shutting yourself off in the loo. But a faint chiming of spastic music still reaches you. Sitting on the commode with your palms over your head, you feel like a difficult student at a pre-school for autistic children. Once again, you have forgotten to carry your own music on this difficult day. With nothing to drown out the tranquilizing ‘instrumentals’, all you can do is suck it up and keep a straight face.

The day does have its moments:

Head Slave pleading with his secretary over a MIDI version of ‘Bryan Adam’s ‘Everything I do…’

Your neighbor straining to hear over the phone to Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello’

The anorexic new marketing manager gesturing with her hands wide in a meeting room with Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart will go on’

 

Grateful for still being able to find humor in the ordinary, you get through your 9 hours with a note in your calendar for next week:

Friday: Get iPod or stay at home!

–          J.

Power Lunch

In Head Slave, Interpersonal, Interview, Office humor, Power Lunch on March 10, 2012 at 20:37

You never liked the office Cafeteria. For one, they never served coffee. The food was barely edible. And the line-up to the food eerily resembles a prison canteen. To top it all, you are required to sign against our name to avoid you from taking seconds. You can’t imagine swallowing one batch of this mass produced feed matter. But systems are made keeping the masses in mind.

Once you secure a plate and pile it what seems least repulsive, your next challenge is to find a place to sit. Sure there are vantage points and sweet spots to be hunted for. But on most days, just finding enough space to rest your derriere and perch your plate is good enough.

Today is one of those days. The company you did not choose to have is Head Slave himself. He looks ambivalent mingling with the mortals. You look harrowed, being one.

Small talk eventually leads to interview type questions. Between giving the safest possible answers and ignoring looks of mock awe from your usual lunch buddies, you get very little eating done. At the end of it, you feel like you have been interrogated for a Class Action lawsuit. HS now knows more about you than your last girlfriend.

You know you should have been prepared for this. An elevator test can happen anywhere. But the barrage of whys and hows coupled with the prison food are hampering your performance. The trick here is to ask a short question: Why? How? Can you elaborate? And then do your eating while your subject jumbles over his answer and fumbles over the food. Unfortunately, as Bottom Slave, you cannot do much asking.  Whenever you are able to swallow the last morsel in time to blurt out a sensible answer, a phone call that HS just has to answer derails your train.

It is no surprise that he finishes before you. With every reluctant bite you take, he seems to be getting jittery. You also seem to be taking an eternity to chew your food. Though bugged overall, you are impressed with HS’s ability to eat/swallow and talk fast at the same time. It is almost as if he has evolved into a post-humanoid that doesn’t need to chew its food. Maybe he regurgitates it later. With that thought, you decide you have had enough, of lunch. You politely get up half-way to signal it’s time to go.

Having lunch at your desk seems like a better idea by the day.

 

J.

Fit to Slave

In HR, humor, Interpersonal, Interview, Office humor, SlavesInc on March 6, 2012 at 03:33

‘I am a fun-loving person who likes to talk to people.’

‘I like to work in a challenging environment with dynamic growth opportunities.’

‘I like travelling and listening to music.’

Who doesn’t? (you finally intervene)

‘…in my free time’

You: (a look that says ”D’uh”)

This is what a typical slave round-up interview recruitment process goes like. And it is not very different from when you were recruited.

Now that you are on the other side of the table, your expression has changed. It has changed from mock eagerness to mock contempt.

As yet another candidate walks out post a volley of niceties, you and your fellow adjudicators can’t help but exhange weary looks and snide remarks. There is a definite Idol vibe going on. You are not sure if you are immitating TV or interviewers everywhere can’t help but be this way!

When it is finally time to come out with the results, you are caught between two worlds. One warns you of falling for personal prejudices and gut feel. The other reasons that you have done your best to be fair under the time restraint. It is not like you are assessing someone for marriage!

Your inner rebel finally breaks through and vouches for a candidate who doesn’t exactly ‘fit the bill’. With this candidate, Intelligence is not a question; willingness to get hands dirty is.

And sure enough, your dark horse disappoints you. She backs out at the first mention of fieldwork. You remember George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air:

‘I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.’

At least you tried.

– J.