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Archive for the ‘Commute’ Category

Stranger to Kindness

In Commute, humor, Motivation, nine to five on June 16, 2014 at 02:10

As related by a friend

Of the many things that are in abundance in this world, plight is one that courts you on a daily basis. And plight of a personal nature is like being in an abusive relationship; the more you fight it, the earlier it gets to you in the day.

GroundHog Day Bill Murray

Lately, it hits you as soon as you are outside your door in the morning. You didn’t want to opt for company sponsored transport. It seemed too much like being out on parole. But the traffic and the damn economics of it!

shawshank prison bus

A minivan is all your employer can afford at this stage and the driver is always late. You want to be civil, if not kind to people working hard for a living. But the lack of sleep followed by a tropical morning gets the best of your better senses and you end up giving him an earful. It doesn’t seem to help though.

On the fourth such pleasant morning, the driver gets a call from his boss/handler. ‘I am on my way…on my way, I mean, I am just here…no, not on the highway but I am almost there. It is not my fault boss…’

He turns around to look at you. You try to look like you were not paying attention to the one-way conversation.

‘It is the first pick-up of the day, that guy is always late boss. It’s not my fault’

Roadrage

What the…you almost blurt out. But the driver is looking at you making a sorry pleading face. You motion to him to keep his eye on the road. The driver is off the phone now and checking you out in the rear view mirror making a puppy face. You try to check your rage. For once, counting to ten helps. An ugly puppy perhaps, but a puppy none the less.

Every one’s got their KRAs. Telling your boss the market research team delayed the presentation is no different that the driver blaming you for his running late. The least you can do is take the hit for a change, especially when it is easy for you to do so.

empleo-human-taxi 2

Happy at not letting frustration get to you any further, you even thank him for the ride on arriving at the galley.

‘Sir, sir…,’ he calls out behind you. You turn around with a ‘Now what?’ expression.

‘Sir, you stay at that Jumbo Apartments Complex right?’

‘Yes,’ you reply quizzically.

‘You don’t have to come to the station for the pick-up Sir. I can take a detour and pick you up from your doorstep. It will be quicker for me too. I will be on time everyday!’

‘…Ok,’ you say managing a smile, ‘See you tomorrow at 8 then.’

‘Yes Sir, thank you Sir, good day Sir!’

human_kindness_captured_in_pictures

Of the many things that are in abundance in this world, kindness of strangers is perhaps the most underrated. The sooner you find this out the better.

 

–          J.

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.

The Tetris of Life

In Commute, frayed ends of sanity, humor, music system, Office humor, work life balance on January 17, 2012 at 12:20

You know what you should be doing: sticking to a beat, keeping it simple, staying calm and being patient. But the options always seem too alluring.  You take another dash at it, ignoring the torrid past you have had with lady luck. No sooner do you take it; option 2 suddenly starts looking as bad as option 1, if not worse.

You are stuck on the freeway on the way back from work. Option 2, off course is the lane next to you. Like the story of your life and your career, the route you take turns out to be the longest. The lane you change to starts running slower than the one you left. If you could meet Murphy some day, you would break his condescending neck!

You remind yourself to stay calm and non-aggressive. There is green light at the end of the tunnel and you need to concentrate to get through this signal. The radio you have kept on to keep from feeling lonely is now getting on your nerves. The RJs constant jabbering sounds like a Duracell bunny high on Valium in front of a Karaoke machine! So you yell STFU at the radio forgetting momentarily that these things are conveniently meant for one-way communication.

As you hurtle towards the fateful green light along with others competing for the same prize, you can’t help but wonder what this must look like from top view. A high stakes game of Tetris perhaps, with the odds already stacked against you. The designated jerk in this pile-up (there always is one) makes an ambitious swipe from your right to make it through and ends up running it for everyone.

The ominous red flashes on your face. Another 15 minutes of your mortal existence written off. You hit the steering wheel, yelling in a murderous rage. To the onlooker, it may seem like you are singing along your favorite 80s power ballad (Love Bites…Love Bleeds!).

If your day dreams consist of getting all green lights,

If you compulsively check your dash board only to be disappointed every time,

If all can you do after reaching home is sleep; only to begin another day…

…you know what you should be doing: Pitching a tent in your office parking lot, you don’t have much of a life in the outside world anyway.

J.

Pool My Car

In Commute, humor, Office humor on November 21, 2011 at 02:57

You can’t remember anybody wanting to know so much about you. Age, allergies, occupation, orientation, vegetarian/non-vegetarian/vegan, musical preferences, whether you believe in aliens and your stand on the Kennedy assassination. You are sure you are not in a dream being interviewed by Oprah. You would have felt better or at least had better clothes on.

What you are wearing is close to rags and what you are feeling is close to rage. Yet you have to do this for the only other option is travelling alone and bugged through this world. No, you are not a reluctant hen in a speed dating nest. You are trying to car pool. Even though you are not yet comfortable with car pooling being both a noun and a verb, you are trying.

Between marathon snarls and dearer barrels, you are mortified to step out of the house. But reach the galley you must, preferably on time. So you brave pooler forums and ‘get started instructions’. If you are not convinced yet, carbon footprint calculations are thrown at you for good measure. Not only are you driving towards poverty and bad credit ratings you are also choking Gaia. Fill out our form you stupid polluting pig is what the site screams at you.

So you start filling out what feels like an interrogation before eventual relegation to the No Fly List.

No smoking

No discussing religion

No coming late

No consumption of food, fodder or liquids

….

You realize this is going to drain you in more ways than one. While you could use a more affordable commute, the last thing you need is another group of forced formal relations. You ctrl+w poolyourcar.com and confirm your bank balance. Carbon footprint my dusty boot space!

Cartoon appeared in DNA, 5th Nov, 2011

–          J.

Karma of the Commute

In Commute, humor, Office humor, Wage Slaves on October 3, 2011 at 14:42

The final stretch will decide the fate of your day. Like a fifth set tie-breaker or the final of forty laps, you are running purely on adrenaline. That is how you started the day too. Down in the 5th base, you have got to suck it up, put in the long yards and control the sports analogies. Post the morning high, it has all been downhill as expected. But the day ain’t over yet. Not until you clear the obstacle course that separates your quarters from your galley.

You are, of course, referring to your eventual bus ride home. It is the most sporty thing you do all day. You do not exactly look forward to it. But it is amazing how resourceful one can be in the absence of options. As the fateful vehicle approaches, you become aware of an impatient, heavy breathing flock of fellow slaves around you. This is not going to be easy. But what would life be without competition?

As you jump, lunge and land, predator-like focus takes over your senses. The only thought that comes to your mind is: ‘This would look really cool in animation!’

 

Most slaves have developed their own techniques: elbowing, blocking, side-stepping and toe-crushing. You too have to play ball for the prize. Looking prim is the least of your worries right now and civility a distant acquaintance. Like sniffers trained to lunge at the prize, you and fellow slaves scamper for the few and vacant seats.

You see your target, a vacant aisle seat on the left. With random precision, you spill into the seat. The look of reclusive relief on your face seems to say: ‘Life is not so bad after all!’

Having caught your breath, you look around at the losers who could not corner a seat. A lady standing right next to your seat catches your nearly gloating eye. She is uncomfortably contained in her formals and has a familiar look of disappointment on her face. You had the same look on yesterday when a miscalculated side-step cost you a coveted seat.

You get up, at once compelled, and offer your seat to the morose lady who takes it in disbelief. As you hang on in the public transport vehicle, your legs are wary but your eyes have a glint. Good deed in bag, free will practiced, you have salvaged an otherwise forgettable day.

–          J.

Morning High

In Commute, humor, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on January 29, 2011 at 16:28

There is nothing like a rush of adrenaline to wake you up in the morning.
The heart is pounding, brow is wet, shoe laces undone but vision narrowed.

As you duck, sway and swerve around obstacles on your trusted two-wheeler, each second registers in your focused temporal lobe. Red lights, swearing motorists and mortified pedestrians don’t mean a thing.

You land at your destination, not a moment too soon. Familiar faces greet you in word or kind. But no time to go lax, you need to launch for the final stretch. By instantaneous depth perception, you autonomically decide which staircase will take you to your finish line.

You sense too many fellow humans crowding goal post 1 through your peripheral vision. It’s not over yet. You make a further dash for goal post 2, 1 flight of stairs higher. Your seldom-streched feet say no more. It cannot be lactic acid accumalation, that takes minutes. You ignore it as your target finally comes within striking distance. You make a final ungraceful but effective swipe…

‘Finger Print Not Matched’ declares the unfeeling machine.

With only 10 seconds left you know etiquette requires you to allow the lady fretting behind you to have a go. But such niceties are strangers to adrenaline. You selfishly swipe once again.

Your Pan Card name flashes on the display. You collapse on the bench besides the punching machine, eyes closed, panting, with a satisfied but detached smile on. Your saying to yourself, ‘Success, you’re my bitch!’

There is nothing like a rush of adrenaline to wake you up in the morning. Punching in not a second too early is just the kind of vain and juvenile exercise needed to keep you interested. The aforementioned satisfaction is often all you have to help you through the 9 ensuing hours of earning your daily bread. It is all downhill from here.

– J.