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Archive for the ‘Boss’ Category

Friends, Family and People You May Know…

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy on February 3, 2017 at 02:19
Sometimes you wonder if beneath all the layers of niceties and formalities does a real person exist or did he go into a coma a long time ago. May be your colleagues think the same way about you. But you don’t want to let the line between friends, acquaintances and co-workers blur. You don’t mind being called old-fashioned but having three real friends is better than having a hundred and seventy ‘people you may know’.
And so you resist. You resist Friday drinkathons by getting all your bitching done during coffee breaks. You resist the annual sports day by feigning hernia. And you resist adding your colleagues on Facebook by not remembering your password. But for how long? Between auto logins and your company’s official ‘fan page’ your online profile is ironically more relevant than your flesh-and-blood self and will outlive it too. The thought of willing your online avatars to your heirs seems disturbing only if you plan to start a family.
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However most people still do. And they plan the expansion of their clan around their appointments, promotions and transfers completing the circle of modern day slavery. Adding them as friends can be pretty disturbing. Specially the tenured uncles whom you have only seen behind their respective desks. You are not even sure if they have legs! The ones who wear the same blue-striped shirt which is 2 sizes too big; every day of the week. May be they wear different equally forgettable formals every day and your brain has decided to store just one default image of these humanoids to save precious RAM. Or may be they have 5 exactly same shirts so they only have to wash and iron once over the weekend. You would like to believe the later. But on Facebook, Mr. Bhatavdekar is a different person. He has two kids, he wears t-shirts and on weekends, he almost manages to look happy! In some cases the contrast is so dramatic you think he either has an evil twin or he is himself a serial killer!
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On recent unavoidable social treks, you have run into the mythical creature known simply as the boss’ wife. She seems normal enough but you have your doubts. She could not have survived Head Slave for over five years without even being compensated with gratuity and still be a nice person. And soon enough, she proves you right. Between comments on your casual dressing and suggestions on how you should start yoga, she went from the boss’ bride to Cinderella’s step-mother pretty quickly. Perhaps by some extended logic, she may feel like the entire office’s mother-in-law. And it gives a whole new meaning to the term dotted-line reporting.
You want to tell her that having a kid does give you a passport into the comfortably fat zone and definitely does not exempt you from atherosclerosis but you can’t, not before updating your CV. And not when HS is there himself tag-teaming on you while you are down. The only thing more annoying than a cute couple is a power couple because they don’t even pretend to be nice.
Stone Cold Stunner Linda McMahon
One would think in the class-less global economy nearing automation, there would be no clans and no extended chains of power. But only the era changes, appropriation always remains a matter of might. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then…
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– Punit Pania

That Blonde Moment

In Appraisal, Boss, Office humor on February 25, 2013 at 12:23

You have always felt a pressing need, almost a compulsion to think before you act, look before you leap and aim before you shoot. There are no points for improvisation, much less for spontaneity. It does not sound like happy camping but that is the way the world goes around. At least the part that makes money anyway.

Kantha Langot

And these are only ordinary Mondays. Special days require an even greater effort at formality. You thought with the appraisal filed away, such days were gone along with best and worst they had to offer. But you had conveniently forgotten that while in employment there is always next year to plan for, to yearn for and earn for.

And this begins with goal setting. You may continue to be as misguided and random in your personal life as possible. But during office hours, everything is planned to manicured perfection. It has taken you five hours already to draft five areas that will serve as your goals. You have weighed your words more painstakingly than a miserly jeweler.  You have redone your script more times than a reclusive author with a drug problem. And you are still not sure.

The sun is about to set now. It is almost time for your alter-ego, Non-Formal Man to moonlight.

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You would really like to let go, let your hair down, put your windows down and your speakers up.  But you can’t. Not as a slave. Not during office hours. Not under video surveillance. Not yet.

You have got to get this out of the way. A check with Head Slave’s Sec reveals that he will be leaving in half an hour only to return after a week.

It is now or never. With one last spell check, you are about to hit print when you realize you missed one section altogether:

Personal Goals: ­­­________________________________________________________

You stare at it for some time. Then you tilt your head and stare at it some more. Could this be a joke? Personal? Here? In the galley? Why would they possibly want to know the awfully pedestrian goals of your suburban existence?

These are tough questions. Given the paucity of time, you scribble out the first thing that comes to your mind and head for the HS’ den.

He has almost made it through the printout without as much as a batted eyelid or raised eyebrow. All the obsessing over the wordsmiting seems to have been worth it. Then, HS suddenly stops right at the end and looks up at you in bewilderment. You return the favor.

He reads out:

‘My personal goals are to put the punching bag I bought last X’mas to good use and stay off the carbs.’

SpongeBob Boxing Bag and glovesSpongeBob Yoga

And he bursts out laughing. A hideous all absorbing guffaw the likes of which you have never heard before. On several occasions he tries to explain: ‘When we say personal goals we mean…’ but he is too cracked up to finish the sentence.

Legally Blonde Frigid Bitch

To think all the obsessive compulsion that lead to that blonde moment is in the least bit, bemusing, if not an outright daze. There is a little blonde in all of us. She refuses to go down no matter how hard we try to wise up. And we are all the more human for it.

– J.

KRA

In Appraisal, Boss, nine to five, Office humor, SlavesInc on February 21, 2013 at 23:21

Whoever said fate is in our hands never had an appraisal. He never had the good fortune of knowing Head Slave either. It is almost a religious experience as the Maker’s hand randomly does and undoes your exploits of the past 12 months, 4 quarters and 3 seasons on a single A4 printout.

Creation of Adam

You stopped putting up a fight some five minutes ago. But HS seems especially spirited today. You don’t recall having ever had as much face time with him during your entire tenure.

The third time HS asks, you are moved out of your trance.

“What about this Kaizen project sport? I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Neither have you. In fact, the last you heard about it was in last year’s appraisal. You try desperately to remember what your answer was back then. It couldn’t have been anything convincing.

Since you are already two strikes down, you shoot out the following:

“You know boss, the Kaizen project was always on my radar. But looking at our priorities, I had to let it go. I knew it would mess up my KRAs, but it was the right thing to do for the company.”

A few moments of silence follows as HS looks at you with his glasses lowered. That was some inspired hooplah!

“Tell you what sport, we still have a week to go before closing the appraisals. Why don’t you do a quick pilot on Kaizen and we will discuss again?”

Dilbert Kaizen

Now you look at him with your glasses lowered. This is not exactly a SlavesInc. moment but you decide to go for it for the novelty of it.

The next week is spent looking high and low for anything that can pass off as Kaizen and more importantly, for something that can be rounded up in one working week. You settle for an area you know most about: attendance rolls.

Login sessions reveal that an average Slave spends three to five percent of his official time on checking, plotting and in general obsessing over his attendance records. This is more than the time expected to be allotted to real work including ‘generating new ideas’.

925

Being a clone of the system yourself, you know that correcting the names of the slaves on payroll can cut down much of this time. It would also mean fewer loop holes for clock-watching colleagues. But you can’t please them all.

Flintstones-fove-o-clock-whistle

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Project in bag, it is now time for another appraisal session with HS. For once he likes what he sees:

“Nicely done sport. We are through for this year. What was that line you said…’the right thing to do for the company?’ – Brilliant! I used it myself with the man upstairs. Kaizen was part of my KRAs too you know…”

Ghost Rider Contract

HS walks out with a pat on your shoulder and a wink in his eye. He leaves you with a higher KRA score and fewer friends than you have ever had before. Whoever said we make our own destiny was never bound by KRAs.

– J.

Help us ‘Serve’ You Better

In Big Brother, Boss, humor on July 13, 2012 at 04:39

‘So you see yourself taking up more responsibility over the next couple of years?’

‘Positively, Sir.’

‘Are you sure you will stay here that long?’

‘…Yes.’

‘What about a sense of belonging?’

‘A sense of what?’

‘You know, belonging. I think it is very important for you.’

‘Err…yes, yes off course. I totally belong here.’

‘Hmm…’

You never took HS to be so perceptive or even coherent. And here he is reading your thoughts!

But hold that thought!

…You should have been tipped off a long time ago. You’re naiveté astounds you. What were you thinking filling up that survey? You should have known when the website’s masthead read ‘Survey Monkey’. But you kept clicking any way, you conformist Primate! Now they have made a monkey out of you!

‘…I certainly hope you mean what you are saying,’ HS goes on in an ‘I know what you did last summer’ tone. The mix of anger, frustration and entrapment you are feeling right now is hard to mask. You should probably have a name for this feeling for you experience it way too often.

‘Absolutely Sir,’ you gurgle through your rage-choked throat.

‘…Alright then…Oh could you take this form, it is a leadership survey assessing top management. Fill it and give it to my secretary.’

You raise your eyebrows as if to say, ‘Really?’

‘It is confidential,’ he waves you off.

‘Off course,’ you say almost laughing at the sham.

If yes men are what they want, you won’t let them hear an honest neigh again, that is the least they deserve. If you wanted to be a non-conformist, you would not have been in formals in the first place.

– J.

Exit Strategy

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy, Hopsquatch, Office humor, Resignation, Wage Slaves on April 16, 2012 at 23:21

You have always felt there are two cuckoos in your nest, if not more. One is the forceful voice you hear in your head and the other is the whimper that comes out of your mouth. They seem to co-exist uneventfully if not peacefully.

It has been growing inside you for months, prodding, teasing and pontificating. But you can’t…just do it. It’s not like ripping off a bandage now is it?  So you build a strategy, an exit strategy. It’s about time you applied some of your business acumen to your personal business.

Off course, you can’t just stand up and leave. That only happens in movies and sitcoms. In all your years as a paddler, you have never seen anyone stand up and yell, ‘I quit!’ Maybe you are not working in the right kind of office. Where is the drama?

Profound tragedies and arid humor do occur in your galley but at a subtle level. Oddly enough, Head Slave always seems friendlier when you have rebellion on your mind.

‘What are you thinking?’ says HS in the middle of an impromptu meeting.

‘I…was just trying to…get my head around how we are going to do this…thing,’ is your elegant reply.

‘We sure need to do a lot of thinking. We should get the server in-house next year. I want you to start working on it.’

‘Like I am gonna be here next year,’ is what you want to say. ‘…Oh..kay,’ is what you actually say with a crumpled smile.

‘Keep working this hard and we may give you an extra screen…and an assistant!’

‘That sounds…very…generous…,’ you stop short of saying thank you.

‘I want you to really sink into this thing. If you face any problems, you come straight to me. As this team gets bigger, we want good people to be in-charge.’

By good, he means government mules and by in-charge, he means fall guy. You have always been confused between a negative and a realistic take on things. When you are non-committal, the self-perpetuating nature of things is clearer than ever…from dictatorships to corporations to relationships.

You want to think this through but you don’t want to go Dubya on your exit strategy. Sure the world is full of opportunities. But what about the Greener Grass theory? Sure you could do better than HS? But what about the Known Devil theory? And what about all the time and energy you have invested in your current liaison/contract? What if he finds out you are straying? Sound familiar?

Between lost weekends and stretch working, HS seems to have talked more to you over the past one year than his wife and kids combined! That is a scary thought. You can’t keep this hollow relationship going for long. At some point, you have to tell him: ‘I am seeing other people!’

A very wise but evil boss told you once that no one leaves overnight, mentally; you have left six months ago. It has been about that long now.

J.

The Weekend Mafia

In Boss, dust bin, humor, Interpersonal, Office Romance, work life balance, Working on Weekends on February 22, 2012 at 01:01

With the lights dim and the garb loose, an air of comfort may creep in. But you guard against it. The empty chairs are reminiscent of the theater you visited to catch yet another ‘romantic comedy’ last week. There are very few humans around you. The few in your immediate surroundings seem more inviting than on a Monday. The tapping of keyboards and ringing of phones also seems subdued. But you try to look busy.

You finally relent when you are invited a fourth time to a cuppa. As co-worker small talk ensues, you feel like disappearing. You are; off course, working on a Saturday. Part of a slaving elite. But you don’t want to remind yourself of it. If you work fast enough and push out, you probably won’t even notice the weekend was shorter, right?

You manage to pass an offer of a cancer stick. But that is as far as you want to go in this huddle. The machine-spouted coffee tastes like sweetened Styrofoam. You can’t prolong it any longer.  You dump it in the dust bin and excuse yourself.

As you hurry back to your rowing station, you are intercepted by Head Slave himself. You did notice a figure approaching casually but didn’t take it to be HS. Else you would have ducked.

‘There you are sport. Lunch is on me. We are going to that new joint by the curb. 2 pm. Look sharp now!’

It’s like HS has a twin brother who is only let out on Saturdays. The first thing that comes to your mind is: ‘What has he been smoking?’

An invitation to work on weekends is like a being admitted into a secret society. You have read enough pulp function to know such memberships are one-way traffic. It is also clear that not much work gets done on weekends. It is really only a long Friday, like never-ending purgatory. To be on the good side of the weekend mafia is to be one with them. To be on their bad side is to have one shot left at relative freedoms. It is up to you to decide.

J.

Charting your Existence

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy, humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on February 5, 2012 at 23:49

You are staring at it. You just know it’s going to ring. And it does. You almost pick it up at the first ring. But you hold back, affording yourself a few seconds to catch your breath.

 

When you are institutionalized, things move like clockwork. You can predict most developments, even human behavior. It is the grind playing on loop that kills you, not anxiety.

‘Hello?’ you say betraying your gurgling annoyance.

‘We are in trouble’ says HS, salutations and niceties being a thing of the past.

‘What is it Sir?’

‘What is it?’ Have you not checked the report?’

‘I have Sir, it is submitable.’

‘Not like this it isn’t.’

He hangs up. The click of the receiver is an unspoken summons to his lair.

You are confident of your work but not of HS’ creativity. You didn’t expect this report to be your breakthrough performance but you didn’t expect it be a self-goal either. Having almost reached, you remember you are without the moral support of pen and paper. You rush back to your desk to get it.

Slowing down your steps, you touch up your hair in the glass of the cabin. It is time to take one of those deep breaths again.

You walk into the dreaded chamber. HS looks at you dismayed. He holds up a page from the report, clutching it like a butcher would handle a chicken’s neck.

‘The Organizational chart!’

Your eyes search frantically for the pain point but you’re stumped.

At utter loss for safer words, you ask, ‘what about it Sir?’

‘There are no photographs!’ says HS in disbelief. ‘Head Office will never approve it. Get everyone to a studio immediately! Will the prints be ready by tomorrow?’

Ignoring HS’ ignorance of technology and not bothering to enlighten him, you move out with a compliant nod.

You spend the next two hours knocking and entering every cabin on the floor. Your mission (since you had to accept it) is to click every last ugly kisser on the payroll and then paste it onto the Organizational chart. There is also the unenviable task of editing and aligning these candid shots on PowerPoint.

It is still an honest buck you are making. And you have one more story to pass on to your grand kids.

Thank God for camera phones.

–          J.

The Overlord and the Underling

In Boss, dust bin, Head Slave, humor, Office humor, SlavesInc on December 15, 2011 at 01:40

Nothing says occasion like confetti. The last time you saw this species of decoration was X’mas. The last time you saw it in office was never. Any hint of out-of-ordinary scheme of things should excite you. But a childhood fear of crowds comes back to you instead.

You sit your grey frame down amidst the conspicuous party supplies. You figure it must be someone’s B’day or deliverance (retirement). After some time, you notice you are the only one working. Distant voices of merriment make you pinch yourself to rule out a day dream. As a slave-cum-reveler passes by, he stops to answer the Q on your face. ‘Haven’t you seen the mail? The Global Head of Continuous Improvement is visiting our office for the very first time!’

Your solar system stopped at Head Slave and Slave-in-Chief. But little did you know about the Global Head of CI. This is just the kind of Greater Evil that is unveiled at the beginning of a forced movie sequel (You thought Dinosaurs were bad? Now they can talk, and fly). The ascending and descending orders in ‘Sort by Date’ always confused you. Closer inspection reveals an unread mail titled ‘Time to Party’. You had almost put it into spam.

What follows over the next few days is nothing short of royal treatment. Red carpets are rolled out. Lights you did not know existed on the office ceiling are turned on. The relieving room is overstocked with tissue and toilet paper. At lunch, nothing but the finest assortment of local seasonal fruits is presented to the Overlord. Though all slaves have survived on plain old tap water all these years, only mineral water will do for Mr. O.

On one of his impromptu get-to-knows with random slaves, you too are part of the crowd. Mr. O bables away puffing on his stick as the drones listen attentively but without much comprehension. You almost shout at a fellow slave who throws a cup of coffe inches from the dustbin. The wayward cup falls just a couple of feet to Mr. O’s left. But what catches your attention instead is even more horrifying. Mr. O just dropped his stick and walked away as randomly as he had appeared. He didn’t even put it out. Having proved yourself a true Underling, you will not be so eager to please next time.

– J.

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.