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Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Her-assment

In HR, humor, Office humor, Policy on June 26, 2012 at 03:28

‘So when we do not like a co-worker’s gaze, what is the appropriate course of action?’

‘Complain to…’

‘No, we do not complain. We…warn the gazer twice in a polite but firm manner. 3rd time, we report him to…HR’

Pauses to prod the audience into participation are not working.

Judge Judy continues…

If we want to compliment a co-worker on his or her outfit, what is the best option?’

‘Keep it simple’

‘Only above the belt’

‘No, the best option is: don’t. Compliments are best saved for friends, not co-workers.’

That last one actually made sense, in a SlavesInc. sort of way. But in an otherwise bleak session, it is not much of a life-saver. Every year, the company cleanses itself of all wrong doing by making you; the slave, sign on mutually overlapping and collectively exhaustive Commandments.

It you want your daily bread and monthly salary; you have to swallow this and other hoopla. And is it you or does the presenter on Sexual Harassment policy seem to wearing an exceptionally taut blouse? Not only can you not gaze at her, you can’t compliment her outfit either.  So you look down most of the time, trying not to drift off into Neverland. You are feeling like a pervert already.

Moving on, ‘What do you do when you find a co-worker browsing sexually explicit images on his screen?’

Now that is a tough one. Something tells you the two warning principle applies here too. Do it once, you get the benefit of the doubt and a polite but firm warning. Do it twice and you are a paedophile! Off the record, you would probably walk up to the adventurous co-worker in question and ask for the URL that is immune to the Firewall. Thank God you did not say that out loud.

‘To recap, can you; Mr. J, tell us the appropriate course of action in case of…?’

‘You know, one could be browsing explicit images for official work!’

The ensuing silence tells you that you did say that one out loud.

Oops!

5 seconds pass and no one has given you a polite but firm warning yet. So you continue, ‘He could be a product manager for one of our vitality pills, for example.’

The audience of potential sexual offenders laughs out in unison. The taut bloused presenter laughs out too. But she checks herself and continues. She ends the session with a detailed account of the consequences awaiting offenders.

That was a close one. You will have to practice not thinking out loud. Now that you have signed the Commandments, you are already guilty until proven innocent. The time when you will need a contract just to say hello to someone is not far away. You had better save your smiles and your friendship for those outside office.

– J.

The Cube where Time Stands Still

In humor, Interpersonal, Office humor on June 17, 2012 at 23:53

It is a cubicle that is dreaded but revered, dated but persistent. Trips to this hallowed place are best avoided but also a source of memories once taken. You have been avoiding it since in all things work related, you have learnt to err on the side of caution.

But today, you have to take the dip. Sure, it comes under the wrapping of cross-functional project management and upward mobility. But you also like to err on the side of cynicism. So you knock. And you are immediately absorbed into the timeless world of…Mr. Kramer.

5 minutes into the cube of dread and you realize all the stories are true. Kramer likes to talk…a lot. That is how he carries out most of his communication. In fact, his computer screen is switched off right now. A sliver of envy runs through you.

‘And I tell my daughter: I told you they should have batted first. She says she doesn’t understand the game. And I am like: Wha…’

‘Sir, about your visit plan…’

‘You ever play ball?’

‘Umm…No…no sir.’

‘That is whats wrong with this generation…’

…almost an hour later, you have missed your coffee break, evening has arrived and traffic is piling up outside. But Kramer is still elucidating the follies of your generation. Your feeble attempts at nudging the conversation to an official direction have gone out like a candle in a storm. 

Kramer’s breathless extempore is finally broken by a bird chirping right outside his window. Both of you are now staring at your avian friend…the conversation could go anywhere from there.

 

You seize the God-sent opening and get up to say we can continue this another time. But Mr. K leans over the table and almost pulls you down by your sleeve in a manner that says: ‘Where are you going?’

‘You know, that is the first time I have seen a bird here in years. When we had first shifted office here, ours was the only building, mountains as far as the eye can see…’

Mr. K looks out of the window as he says this, as if looking through a hole in time. He is just like any other old timer craving for someone to talk to. Just because you are dressed in formals doesn’t mean you have to be curt and not courteous.

So you wait back easing into the non-pretentious nature of the conversation. You will have to do the paper work for him. It is not like you would have moved mountains with your agenda anyway.

– J.

Cost Cutting

In Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 5, 2012 at 02:19

Half an hour into an ordinary Wednesday morning, something feels different. You look around and fellow slaves are typing away, scratching their heads, staring at their screens…the usual.

But it looks different. It is the lights, they are not on, not one. You inquire.

‘Don’t switch it on,’ beckons a colleague with the seriousness of a method artist.

‘Why?’

‘We are cutting costs. Haven’t you read the mail?’

‘You mean the notice?’

‘Yes’

‘I am sure there are better ways than…’

‘At this salary, I can’t think of any better ideas.’

And he goes back to his desk, dimly lit by his monitor. He does have a point. There is no way of unleashing Austerity without hitting morale. Try as you may, you go through the day with the most pedestrian of thoughts/ideas:

In the loo, you are surprised to find the soap dispenser still functional

At the pantry, you are surprised to find the same brand of biscuits still available.

And the coffee tastes just as bad as yesterday.

You check your self and keep the ‘penny-wise-pond-stupidness’ out of your scrooging brain.  But from meeting room to canteen, there is an outpouring of the choicest ideas:

>  Scribbling numbers on one’s palms instead of taking printouts

>  ACs on only in alternate cubicles

>  Washroom lights to be flicked on only when in use

>  No tissues, handkerchiefs to be made compulsory

>  Lower insurance for smokers

>  Only Economy flight tickets, better yet, travel by trains

>  No Stapling, U-pins to be re-used

>  Coupons for tea/coffee…

…‘That might lead to hoarding and a black market for coupons,’ I offer. The brain stormers stare at me for a couple of seconds and go back to their ideating without even a chuckle.

What could have brought about such seriousness? You go back to your inbox to read the notice again. It seems there is a prize for the ‘Best suggestions on Belt-tightening’.

Ingenious. You remember something about HS flying to a ‘Belt-tightening’ conference just last week. Needless to say, he travelled business class. All you can do is smile at the miniscule-ness of your fiscal apprehensions.

By the time you round up your day’s labour, the would-be cost-cutters have left. Their systems are still on, blinking. You take the effort to bend down and switch off their workstations. By stepping on the backs of thousand poor men does one rich person emerge! But poor men don’t have to be against conservation.

–          J.