Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Con Call

In Meeting, Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 24, 2013 at 02:28

There are 5 distinct voices, maybe six. And they all sound anxious.  Maybe not anxious. But definitely edgy. Each seems to be having an agenda at odds with the others. None sounds like it wants to be there. There is tension mounting but on the surface,  civility prevails.

Reservoir Dogs Poster 1

This is not a Tarantino movie. It’s just the latest in a string of cross-functional meetings. Offcourse, the word meeting is only notional.  The modern knowledge worker is not bound by trivialities like location or even gravity. All five cons on the con call are in different locations,  conditions and even time zones. You are the sixth one having assumed the safer role of chronicler with tempers flying high elsewhere.

Star Trek Delphi

Grumpy Con 1: “You are not getting the point.”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, you are not getting the point! ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we summarise what we have agreed on till now?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, we have not agreed on anything. ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we atleast try?”

Suicidal Con 4: “Ok, but we would only be wasting more time.”

Somewhat sane Con 5: “I think we should take this from the start.”

(Collective sigh)

You: “Yeah, why not?”

And thus starts the second hour of this fruitful discussion. A large group of civilians are to be counselled at a health camp in the coming week as a CSR initiative. But one of your ‘channel partners’ has backed out citing unforseen circumstances. It is now up to you to call off the camp altogether or foot the bill from contingency funds.

The choice would be simple enough if customers were your priority as the textbooks will have you believe. But there too many managers and no ownership in the concoction of this broth. Everything from company image to Act of God is cited to call off the event and go into damage control mode. But nothing about the clueless souls who will line up next week as promised.

But we digress.  For the chronicler cannot afford emotion to creep in as bias. He should, he must report events and actions, or lack thereof as they happen,  no matter how uninspiring.

Dilbert Conference call

Deep into the second hour, energy levels of all cons are sapping, even con 3-the coffee junkie. Traffic,  crying babies and blaring speakers can be heard in the backgrounds of the various participants. Con 2’s voice is booming and echoing like a megalomaniac at the end of a tiresome Bond film. You must have spoken the least in the last hundred minutes but have enjoyed the melee the most. You have also managed to sqeeze in some light exercise,  tea and dinner along with newspaper skimming in this time.

simpsons phone-call

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj? Can we go ahead with these assumptions?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, I don’t see how we can. But I leave it upto Raj.”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj, what do you think? Surely we can…”

Grumpy Con 2: “Raj, can you hear us?”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj you there? Hello?”

Raj, by the way, is the project lead and he seems to have bailed on this brain swarming session a long time ago. And no one even noticed. So impressed are you by this single decisive act that you decide to drop off the call yourself.

The Office Project-Manager

And nothing happens. No reminders or reprimands,  no contingencies or consequence. Too many managers, no ownership.  Too much progress, no contentment.

– J.

Elevator Pitch

In Office humor, Office Romance on June 22, 2013 at 05:20

Life is a series of slots, some memorable, many forgettable but most repetitive and largely uninspiring. Like your sister’s music collection or your uncle’s wardrobe.  So is the case with your elevator buddies.


This is the crowd that seems to clock exactly the same twenty four hours as you. You see them every day. Same time, same elevator. There is the grumpy aunty, the almost hot secretary,  the fat guy seen perpetually with a coffee mug and the guy who is always digging his nose. Then there is you. Staring at the floor number flashing.  Wondering where the hell the last twenty four hours went. The ring of the bell snaps you out of it and you are primed for yet another shift. Office Elevator But it has not been working for the past week. Not since she joined your elevator group.  You can’t call her buddy, not yet. You have not managed to get her name.  But she should suffice for now. She stands out of the elevator crowd like those stock images. A kind face in a raging mob. A stray ray of sun in a coal mine. She has the right mix of assertion and girl-next-doorness to elicit your attention.

Umbrella ray of hope

You have been trying to inch closer to this ray of hope every day. But there is not much give in a rush hour elevator. It is still something to look forward to…the little adventures in life… All this talk about elevators has got you thinking about an elevator pitch. A project manager from the head office has been cited recently in your premises.  But he is too chic to give you five minutes face time. The elevator is the only place to throw him a curve ball. You ought to have a pitch for her too. But that is a whole different skill set. On a fateful Monday, both candidates are within pitching distance.  The project manager actually recognises you and asks you what you wanted to see him about. You are about to start your routine when 7th floor arrives. The usual suspects are holding up the elevator for their friends to budge in. The resulting squabble throws you off mark. She seems disturbed too. You tell the manager you will send him an e-mail. He seems disappointed as he walks out at the eight floor. ‘Quite a racket over a couple of minutes,’ her first words to you. “If time were money, we would all be kings,” is your not so bad reply. She smiles. The elevator door closes. A Monday rises above average. Image Life is a series of slots, some memorable, many forgettable but most repetitive and largely uninspiring. You have to make the inspiring ones count. – J.