Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Semi Casual

In Casual Day, humor on May 29, 2012 at 04:11

You look around you and you are surrounded. By no one in particular. But there are lots of them there. All the familiar features are present: forgettable attire, back pack strapped on, thinning around the north pole and bulging around the equator. Similar profiles and no personality. You are standing amongst an army of yous!

No, this is not a nightmare nor is it a science-fiction flick. This is just you waiting for your usual bus at the usual time for your usual job. Public transport is a great equalizer. It does not care for designations or dressing sense. And that is just as well. You were never much of a wardrobe person. For you, people with expensive wardrobes are snobbish; people with shabby clothes are lazy. And you occupy the sweet spot of simple living somewhere in the middle.

In the middle of a particularly long-drawn week, you take an uncharacteristic decision. You decide to actually dress casual on casual day this week. Nothing else seems to be helping. Everyone else has been doing it. You have been sticking out like a telephone pole in your tucked-in shirts all these Fridays.

So come Friday, you show up in your best loose fits, looking more blunt than usual. You feel unarmed but try to walk it off with a smile. Come lunch time, you find yourself seated at a table of elders, none of whom look like they have ever owned a pair of jeans. And that is just as well. The thought of HS contained strenuously in denim and a Yankees shirt isn’t something you would want flashing across your brain at lunch time.

These senior gentlemen look particularly uptight today with ties and cufflinks. You on the other hand are cloth in an un-ironed old T-shirt. You limit your eye contact to your plate to avoid any embarrassment. You are through to desert and it has been uneventful so far. But just before you can excuse yourself and your casualness off the table, one of the elders starts elbowing HS. Maybe it’s just nerves but it sure seems like they are talking about you. And sure enough, while getting up, HS leans over and tells you to come see him in his office immediately.

‘Why are you dressed like this?’

The question seems simple enough. It can be met with various replies ranging from aggressive to submissive. But all you can manage is:

‘I can go change sir…’

‘Please do. We are giving away the President’s Award this afternoon and you will be needed up on stage.’

What a way to receive good news. You rush off to the nearest mall and end up buying the most expensive white shirt and dark trousers of your life. But it feels worth it when you are up on the stage receiving the award on casual day, no less.

You don’t say this often enough but there is a lesson in this experience. Your dressing or the lack of it is a form of misplaced rebellion, not a matter of socio-economic circumstance. You ought to dress sharper for yourself, not for conformity or the lack of it.


Too Late, too Less

In Appraisal, humor, Salary, Wage Slaves on May 20, 2012 at 04:55

What do you work for? To keep busy? To feel useful? For recognition? For the greater good of mankind?

Anything but money, right? Yeah, tell yourself that. Tell yourself your motivations are on a much higher plane than…daily bread. But with runaway inflation and a bunch of show-offs for Facebook friends, daily bread is the least of your worries. Yes, everyone and his cousin seem to be taking a world tour and buying i-Pads. And you are sitting there ruing over your daily commuting cost.

You are face to face with…FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

For the wage slave, opportunity to progress in life comes but once a year, on a pre-ordained date. This year, the date has come and gone. There is no word about the letter, that single printout which will set the tone for the next 12 months of your mortal existence. And tilt the trajectory of your fiscal fate down towards poverty.

Working for money is a tacit setting, like a conditional friendship. It is well understood but impolite when expressed openly. So you can’t ask or express your displeasure, not about the money.

Week 2 into no-letter land, you have already received your salary slip. Try as you may, you can’t resist calculating against last month’s salary slip to find out the difference.

…there isn’t any! In fact, you have actually received fewer quid in hand than last year. The story of your appraisal has gone from drama to suspense to tragedy and now, an anti-climax. ‘Is this current month’s salary or last month’s salary?’ a similarly ill-fated colleague yells out. 

As other teams receive and rejoice, you feel like a special needs kid on sport’s day awards.

More than a week later, HS finally summons you into his cabin with a smile. You return the smile with ‘whatever’ expression. He finally found the time from his ultra-busy schedule. If only HS could clone himself so his mini-me could get around to unenviable tasks such as smiling through difficult increment sessions.

‘So, how are we doing today?’ is his uninspired opener. You want to convey your choicest opinions. But you manage to just grind your teeth and narrow your brow instead. With your carrot turning to peanuts, you don’t have much to lose.


 Without fear, niceties and formality go out of the window. HS is leaning forward resting his forearms on the table in what looks like mild anxiety. You are slouching in your chair in mild exasperation.

‘As you know, it has been a difficult year for all of us…’

‘We already know the salary. Just hand over the damn letter and be done with it.’

HS has no come back. You take the letter and walk out. The coolness of what you just did only sinks in after a couple of minutes. So that is what inspiration feels like. You ought to feel it more often.

Whoever said they don’t work for money probably had a large inheritance.

–          J.

Slave Station 2.0

In humor, Office humor, Technology on May 3, 2012 at 21:32

The thing about old friends is…they know you…And there is a thing or two to be said about familiarity. The personal kind, not the kind thrown at you through an analysis of your browsing history.

But the march of future is inevitable. If you still think Android is something to do with biology and if you still carry a pen in your breast pocket, chances are you’ll look more outdated than retro. You belong to the land of elbow pads, carbon copy and (gasp!) Orkut.

After holding out for months, you have finally had to upgrade to a laptop. With Murphy’s specter in action, the administrative work moves faster than ever. Soon, you are faced with a sleek new machine that you will practically have to go to bed with everyday. As you pull out the plugs on your old faithful, you feel like you are being forced to administer euthanasia to an old family member.

And that is not all, there are also signing formalities for the handover, like death certificates. As the laptop is switched on, you look at its shiny new operating system and glossy icons. It’s like it is trying too hard to please. All you can manage is contempt. Perhaps this is what being old feels like.

Besides the bells and whistles, the new machine is also a needy creature. It needs to be hauled around your back wherever you go. It needs a charge about as many times as you take a loo break. And unlike your old work station, you certainly can’t kick it when it hangs. You would end up hurting more than its feelings. Now you know why your father hangs on to his old Fiat in the era of Prius.

Nostalgia aside, there is certainly a thing or two to be said about ergonomics. You can’t work for twelve hours and more in a submissive pose on the ‘lappy’ (puke!). You are not going to give in that easy. So you tame the machine. You attach an external keyboard, an external mouse and mount the damn thing on some boxes so you can see it eye to eye.

Sleek was never your style. So they can call you DOS Uncle if they like. But till they plant a chip in your head, you are going to fight it! The thing about old friends is…they are old. And you would trade gloss for warmth any day.

–          J.