Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Fire Drill

In humor, Office humor on May 12, 2014 at 01:57

Your father always talked about learning from experience. That way to wisdom has long since been discredited. This is a world of preparation and pre-preparation. And we are better and safer off for it. In this world, exams are cleared before they are written, matches are fixed before the toss and wars are won before they are waged. Foretold, forewarned amd foreclosed.

The Venus Project

You still try to be natural though, being unnerved by every act of deceit and moved by every act of kindness. However, the overriding emotion seems to be that of surprise. The jingle of the announcement system comes on and you expect the receptionist in her sorry voice to declare the occurrence of some non-event. But it is not her. It is not even the stand-in receptionist. It is a man’s voice. It is a very old man in charge of training very young recruits. His voice starting with the presumptuous “Hello friends…’ rains down from the skies. On more than one occasion you have imagined the end of the world to be akin to this. So you look around for what you could take with you for the arduous journey.
yesman mike


‘Saifty is verry imporrtant,’ says the old man in an accent thicker than a thick milkshake during HappyHour. Somewhere in the middle of his seventh long sentence you understand this is a fire drill. If you were to wait for the old man to finish, the whole place would burn to the ground. Fellow slaves have by now started scampering.  Well, not exactly scampering but getting their act together in general.




Groups of slaves are to follow their assigned leader or ‘Fire Marshall’ as these guys like to be called; in a straight line to the designated escape area. If you were to guess the protocol you would have said, ‘Scream fire, run like hell and lock yourself up in the bathroom.’ Which is why you will never get to be Fire Marshall. But you can make like good sheep and follow your shepherd to the parking lot. If you were to follow your own path, you would keep running, as far away from the burning building as possible and not wait in the lot. But while in employment, policy rules everything right up to possible death and posthumous insurance claims.

A safety instructor awaits the rescued lot, mike at the go. Keeping a straight face was difficult enough without the instructor being a Comedy Circus wannabe. ‘Imagine its a fire in your kitchen, is that the best you can do?’ he says to one lady. ‘You will only stoke the fire further,’ he says to another ample volunteer trying to douse a flame by sitting on it!



The festivities are brought to a halt when the headcount does not add up. Two slaves are definitely missing, even after counting twice. The Marshals and the Instructor seem more crestfallen than one would if a loved one had met an untimely demise. You find their commitment admirable and amusing at the same time. They can write out all the fire safety SOPs with their left hand with their eyes closed but they can’t for the life in them figure out the cause of two possible casualties. After it stops being funny, you walk up to the Instructor and suggest that he check the tea stall outside the office building.

In case of fire


And sure enough, your two casualties are very much breathing, enjoying their third cuppa for the day. Foretold, forewarned and foreclosed but no real-life experience.


– J.

Higher Resolution

In Casual Day, creativity, Cubicle, day of creation, humor, Office humor on January 7, 2014 at 12:23

27 and counting. That is how many times you have had to wish people ‘Happy New Year’ superimposed with a smile. At least, online you can get away with abbrevating to ‘HNY,’ using copy-paste and throwing in the odd smiley for good measure. In the real world, it takes a lot more energy.

 Season's Greetings - A Lawyer's Point of view

So you pre-empt discussions and greetings with a lot of the everyday stuff so that your would-be greeter drops the idea altogether. This is a little bit more difficult at state level.

Because at state level, there is no dialogue,  there is only diktat: ‘All employees are requested to be dressed in their sports day attire with matching sneakers on the first working day of the new year…’

Beyond a point, if your handlers can tell you what and how much to wear, you have got to question if you are in the right profession. You wouldn’t want to begin the year on a non-compliant note, especially since you haven’t even updated your CV yet. So you lay your sports gear out on the morning of the big day. You even try it on. But it is very clear: You look ridiculous in it.


Non-compliance it is.

But for once you are surprised to find you have company in this department. With only around 10% slaves dressed for a marathon, it would be fair to say this ‘initiative’ flopped. It is still amusing though to see the odd guy dressed in a red tennis jersey in a meeting room with formally dressed drones around him, especially if he is leading the discussion.

Around lunchtime when most slaves have already begun their countdown to punch out time, another state sponsored e-mail lands in your inbox: ‘All employees are requested to gather at the central lobby to participate in the New Year Resolution Tree Planting Ceremony.’ These would not be your usual loose weight-avoid-junk food-sleep early nonsense, you know, the kind of resolutions that ought to be suffixed with a *lol* in brackets. No. These would be more corporate. Ask not what the company can do for you but what…

Resolutions Gym
Lightweight promises to ‘add value’ on post-its stuck to a make belief paper tree. You sure hope the company is not counting on these to make or even maintain profits. You do go to see the fair. There are not many participants, the paper tree looks like a last-minute craft project destined for a ‘B-‘

The little that is there is predictable at best: ‘I will collaborate more with other departments,’ ‘I will be more responsive to customer calls,’ ‘I will only hold meetings when essential.’

You can’t partake in this. You decide there itself to drop the fleeting idea of finally making your own list of resolutions. If professionally run organiations can delude themselves around a calendar year, what chance do you, the common underling have? The wrinkles on your face, the the extra inches around your waist and the fire in your heart on its last flicker don’t give a dime about what date it is. You shouldn’t either. The best time to do what you want to is always right now.

– J.
SlavesInc Visiting Card

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Santa None the Less

In Festivals, humor, Office humor on December 25, 2013 at 05:00

‘What’s wrong with a table clock?’ You say having never bought into the secret Santa gimmick.

‘Nothing, if it was 2012,’ says Karen, obviously more sold than you.

‘You mean a table clock is so last year?’

‘Not the gift, but Nitin’s designation has moved up in life, leaving cheap gifts and open cubicles behind.’

‘Just give it now, isn’t it the thought that is supposed to count?’

‘It is but not in office.’

If you had a dime for every time you heard that, you wouldn’t need to work in an office in the first place. But you have accepted it as a fact of life, as routine as complaining about the traffic and doing nothing about it.

Annual events remind you that you are still here and nothing much has changed except the date. What changes is how badly you want to break free and the time available to you to execute this jail break, both of which are on a downward spiral.

‘The thought should count for something. Like 40%,’ you say, still not convinced about the designation theory.

‘Let’s just say that the thought is only table stakes, you need to back it up with action.’

‘Man, this is gonna be painful. How about a fancy lighter?’

‘He doesn’t smoke.’

‘It is never too late to start,’ you say dryly.

‘We have ten more minutes, then my vacation starts. Do it or Secret Santa flops,’ Karen was serious.

‘A Wine Set?’

‘Too informal.’

‘An actual bottle of wine?’

‘Too expensive.’

‘A box of rum balls?’

‘Too predictable.’

‘I give up then.’

‘Don’t you have something…non-narcotic?’

‘Not in office.’


‘Can’t think of anything…flowery right now.’

‘Good bye then, see you next year. Merry Christmas!’

‘Secret Santa my ass!’ you exclaim.

You get back to work trying to ignore the sad looking cotton balls masquerading as snow and the thin guy from accounts posing as Santa. Working through it seems to be the only revolt of some semblance against what you feel is just another shopping festival.

Christmas Mall

*Gift for Nitin* continues to stare at you from the top of your to-do list. But you just can’t get around to the formality. At 8 pm on Xmas eve; it is just you, Nitin and his name on the list that are left in office.

Alone in an office at night, an FBI agent sifts through files.

You decide to confront him, walk straight into his newly acquired enclosure, wish him and leave. He sees you coming a long way away and waves you in. But you rush back to the desk and put that zippo lighter you never used into your pocket, just in case.

Zippo ad kids

‘Long day eh?’ he says

‘Yeah, just like any other. Hey, can I help you with something?’

‘Oh no, I’ve…I’ve got it covered, thanks,’ says Nitin in a smile too big to be true.

‘I plan on being here quite some time. Why don’t you head home to the kids on time for once?’ you offer.

‘The kids are not at home…I don’t have custody for the holidays,’ says Nitin still smiling.

‘I’ve got nothing waiting for me at home either,’ you say pulling up a chair. Secret Santa still has a chance.


– J.


In Festivals, humor, Interpersonal, Office humor on October 13, 2013 at 01:47

A company is a highly designed place full of people who have landed there by default. Once there, they learn the rules of the reality show called employment. Like in any other motley group, some learn fast, others learn the hard way.

You always wanted to learn fast. But wanting is only the first step. And you have your whole working life to figure out the rest.


A slew of colourful boxes has made it to the office in the morning sending much a flutter on an otherwise ordinary day. The boxes are too small to be product consignments and too bright to be routine stationary. They have to be gifts, big ones. It is not nearly festive season yet nor is the birthday or retirement of any office celebrity in the offing.


Gossip, speculation and wild guesses rule till some time before lunch when the coveted boxes containing unknown payload start being handed out by none other than Head Slave himself. Each recipient emerges from the cabin a happy man, one box richer than when he went in. It is a rare sight. He also announces the name of the next man summoned into the sanctorum.

Then, the summons just stop and the exercise is at a sudden but definite end. So exciting this has turned out to be that no one noticed the pattern to the chosen box receivers. ‘It is a Diwali gift, only for line managers,’ said smirking Smriti just in case you had missed the appeasement.


You have never been one for giving or receiving gifts. But those boxes were just so…happy looking. You feel like a step-kid on Christmas day in a crowded family. Like a stray dog who is not cute enough to get attention and not weak enough to earn sympathy.  Like the only guy without a date at a swanky coffee house. You have actually approached HS’ cabin and are standing dangerously close as Smriti makes the obvious more biting my mouthing it.

You walk off without acknowledging the glee on her face. You can now the see the boxes distributed over various desks, not distributed over others. But they don’t seem colourful anymore. They look a distant grey. Before the discrimination kills your appetite, you decide to head off for lunch. You ask around for company, making it a point not to ask the gift recipients. This does not stop Smriti from pitching in:

‘Can’t come, all line managers have been invited to a special lunch at The Chateau`!’

‘Did I ask you?’ you snap back, ‘I am only asking mortal non-line managers.’

Visibly recoiling from your outburst, Smriti walks off saying, ‘We need to talk.’

Gift boxes tie

A company is a highly designed place full of people who have landed there by default. You try to be tolerant. But trying is only the first step. And you have your whole working life to get used to the rest.

– J.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In humor, Interpersonal, work life balance on September 18, 2013 at 23:43

A long lost acquaintance suddenly pings you on LinkedIn. Now, if it was a long-lost friend, you would have been pleasantly surprised but with an acquaintance, you just do the bare formalities: Alive? Working? Married? Kids? Good.

This acquaintance is likely to be one of the slower kids in school or the guy with the thick frames in college.  Let’s just say he would not be on your list of people you wouldn’t mind being stranded on an island with. But he is also the kind of guy who makes you feel sorry for feeling sorry for him.  So you play along.

Banya Seinfeld

A couple of pleasant surprises later, he asks you out. To a cup of coffee. At this point, it is ok to be a little worried. I mean, a tangential orientation would explain a lot, not that you would know.

Cover of "Don't Say Yes When You Want to ...

It seems you will have to buy the book ‘Don’t say yes when you want to say no’ by Herbert Fensterheim. But before you do, you have one awkward cup of coffee on your hand. It isn’t for the first couple of minutes until your acquaintance asks: ‘Tell me about your dreams. What do you want to be in life?’


You give him a wtf look. And supplement it with a quick summary of your CV. He says, ‘No no, I want to know your dreams. We all have dreams but in our busy schedules…’

And he lays it on you. His spiel. The pitch that will change your life. The whole nine yards. Boy, is he going for the homerun or what? A mix of startlement and amusement keep you from breaking his onslaught.


At the end of it, you deem it appropriate to counter with an anti-climax: ‘I will think about it. I will call you.’

You would like to think this is the end of it. But it’s not. Several phone calls and a face-to-face with one your acquaintance’s ‘Senior partners**’ later, you are finally off the program. All you could say was, ‘I don’t think so but I will get back to you.’ And you had to say this at least fifteen times before they let you go. It was hard for them, seeing as in how they were going to change your life and stuff.

They never told you what they were selling. ‘The product is not important,’ he would say, ‘we can sell anything.’ He didn’t exactly say, ’We are in the business of selling dreams.’ And that would not have surprised you.


You find out later that several of your friends have endured the same coffee shop routine. In fact, at the same coffee shop. The same pitch. The same shit about dreams. Just a different acquaintance and a different lead.


Your garden variety employer does not talk to you about your dreams but puts on paper the means to achieve them, should you choose to accept it. Godmen do not talk about the means, not scientifically anyhow, but keep brainwashing you about the end. And nothing short of eternal happiness at that. Multi-level Marketing poses as the best of both enticing you with the yuppie notion of ‘Do what you love, love what you do’.

But if you like it; it would not be work, duh’. And if you don’t like making cold calls to every last contact in your sphere of reference over a forcefully pert cup of coffee, tell them so.

Awkward Coffee Meetings

SlavesInc. recommends: Don’t freaking say yes when you want to say no.

– J.


In frayed ends of sanity, humor, Office Romance, work stress on March 25, 2013 at 03:12

Life is all about second chances. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be here to talk about it, boast even. Show off; on bumper stickers, fridge magnets and wallpapers.

Dexter Hannah quote

Learnt, borrowed or forwarded, wisdom is everywhere these days. From a blonde girl’s t-shirt to your boss’s e-mail sign-off, from a coffee mug to a random tweet. Even fellow slaves have caught the message bug, their mundane cubicles proclaiming life’s profound truths. ‘Success always hugs you in private but failure always slaps you in public’ says one. ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people merely exist,’ says another. Then there are the outright rebellious kinds: ‘Silence does not always mean yes. It means…


You have always been suspicious of anything that is in abundance from credit cards to carbohydrates. So you have kept your rowing station practical and without frills. But some wisdom would have helped today, even a tit-bit. For you sure feel stupid today.

You ought not to. Today was a day you got more work than on most days. Concurrently, today also turned out to be a day you questioned your existence the least. It sure took a lot of tunnel vision to finally finish that confidentiality agreement that looked like it would never end. It took that and a lot of saying no. No to taking coffee breaks, no to seeing that funny video everybody has been forwarding and no to answering the perpetually blinking phone. And it would have all been worth it too. All the effort would have been worth it if you had only pressed one small button. But you didn’t. And now it’s all gone. Into a black hole of disappointments never to return.

I didn't save

Relieved that you had finally wrestled the document to the ground and annoyed at the number of different versions you had created in the process, you go on a deleting spree, saying ‘Do not save’ to anything that pops up, including your day’s work. It takes some time for the stupidity of it all to sink in. When it does, you are so cross you kick everything in sight. You come to close to smashing the computer too. But if you were that impulsive, you wouldn’t have lasted this long in this job.

So you sit back, take deep breaths and try to figure out why you were born. Colleagues drop by, some sympathize with your sob story; others can’t stop laughing, especially after looking at the harrowed look on your face. You know you should sleep over it to keep yourself from killing someone. And if you can’t laugh at yourself, you should at least take some positive out of this guffaw. So you take a size-40 font print-out to finally join the message band-wagon. It says:


To err is human, to save is divine

Ctrl+S to err is human

–          J.

B Positive

In Appraisal, humor, Office humor on March 17, 2013 at 19:26

You always dreaded results, right from school. Who didn’t? Apart from carrying the combined anxiety of parents, teachers and counselors/parole officers, you always found the grading discriminatory, if not downright derogation. But what is one soul’s revulsion in an ocean of woe…?

Bart Grades

So you toiled on, in a race you didn’t want to finish and a match you didn’t want to win. And they graded you, year after year, till you grew indifferent to it. It is all theory you said. In reality, in practical terms, in the outside world, you will do well or well enough.

Well, you are in the outside world now. And guess what, you still get graded. Only now it is called performance appraisal. The same people still seem to win, the nerds, the surds and the herds. And instead of candy, you get money, or less of it.

The Office Appraisal

It is no one’s fault really. Mediocrity exists to serve a very important function, that of highlighting what is superior. And it’s all good, nice, clean and impartial through the cold logic of mathematics.

As you know by now, it is that time of the year again. It is that time of the year when all the trials, tribulations and turmoil of the past 365 days will be rewarded. They will be rewarded in full with a single letter. In most cases, this single letter will be B+. Coz you are not slave enough to be awarded an A and not defiant enough to be relieved of your burden.

Grades Meme

The rumors have started already. They range from ‘everyone is going to get the best damn increment of their life’ to ‘the company is going to shut shop’. The same people who always threaten to leave if they are not adjudged above average are still around and they are threatening to leave again. The same people who always walk away with the cherry are also around. And there are some new fish who still have a glint of something you may call hope.

Then there is you. Right outside Head Slave‘s cabin, trying to ascertain if that flutter in your stomach is a butterfly or reluctance to comply. Walking both worlds, committing to none. Spurned on most counts, hanging by on some. But you tell yourself, this is it! If you know you are meant to do something or rather; something else, then there is no day like today and no time like right now!

HS: Come in sport, it’s been a tough year eh?

You: (an expression that says, ‘Let’s get on with it.’)

HS: (an expression that says, ‘I will ignore that.’)

A couple of measured exchanges later HS leaves you with an A+ in your hand and a dilemma on your mind!

Bizarro Desired Destination

Looks like it is going to be another year’s purgatory before you can think of salvation. But what is one soul’s revulsion in an ocean of woe?

…Only a drop, that is what it is.

– J.


In humor, Retirement, SlavesInc, work life balance on December 12, 2012 at 12:26

Fresh ground coffee, sunlight and a leisurely stillness. The closest you will ever get to these things is on a wallpaper. That and your day dreams, if you are still capable, of dreaming i.e. If you are not, we have a product for that (more on that later).

Day Dreaming 1

You get a glimpse on sleepy Sunday afternoon, at a long lunch break and over some particularly foul-tasting coffee. And it vanishes, with the next e-mail, the next ping and the next back ache.

You kill the thought in its infancy before it escapes your lips. You laugh it off yourself before others have a chance. But it persists. Like a faithful puppy. You try to explain to it that the world is a cruel place that does not have the patience to humor fluffy dreams. But it just barks back at you.

So you throw it a bone sometimes. You do the only thing that does not require intellectual or testicular fortitude. You Google it. And you find there is a website for that too:

Tips and tricks, products and services, news and…research! It’s all here. It has an All-you-ever-wanted-to-know condescendence about it. It says that even in your most personal dreams, you are as ordinary as a consumer. And we have just the product for you!

Black Sabath Heaven and Hell

Every day that you procrastinate, more seemingly novel business ideas are being taken by those with a greater supply of kash, kismet and kahoonas, or a combination thereof. The economics of it all is staring you right in the face. Get rich soon or die trying.

50 Cent

The ancients believed dreams tell us what we need to know. Dreams of the modern man may not be more than a noxious mixture of last night’s TV shows and his last Happy Meal. But they can still provide mild entertainment. One thing is clear: We did not crawl out of trees to rot at a desk all day.

–          J.

Life Spans and Short Cuts

In Health, humor, SlavesInc, Technology, work life balance on October 29, 2012 at 04:08

Your brow is sweaty, your heart’s a beating and you sense a vague but seldom felt emotion…that of being alive! Maybe it is a mix of adrenaline and testosterone coupled with (shudder) normal blood sugar. You have not exactly jumped out of a plane but in a nine-to-five cityscape, this is the closest you can get to physical exercise.

Walking. That’s right. Plain old walking. On your own two feet. Imagine that. Just like our ancestors who climbed out of the trees.  That is all you have to do for good health is what some ‘experts’ will have you believe. But it also all you can do for good health. Fair trade. But even you know that walking while eating a king size cheese burger is just fooling yourself.

And to think all it took to get you vertical and in a non air-conditioned environment was a series of seemingly unrelated cross-leveraged events, like Cloud Atlas. Powers that be in your galley decided the long term cost of employee insurance would take us all down like the Titanic. Gone are the good old days when you could select your slaves by looking at their dentures and shooting them dead when they were too frail to pick in the fields. Now, you have cover for their medical expenses. What a scam!

WalkOn they call it, for lack of a better name. And quite a pile on it is. Each employee is given a Pedometer, you know, those devices that magically count the number of steps you take. They are kind of like cattle tags except you can harness them on your person without the need for painful piercing in the absence of anesthesia. The cost has probably been claimed as depreciation already. But a lot of pomp is beaten up citing ‘employee engagement’. You have heard the word ‘care’ so many times over the past few weeks; it has begun to sound like something dangerous. They just stopped short of getting Johnny Walker to sponsor it. Something about company policy and alcohol came in the way. It was close.

So if you haven’t got it by now, here is the dough: Fat employees eating up too much insurance-Need to whip them into shape-No time left after insanely long office hours and working on weekends-Gyms too expensive-Simplest way is to make the blobs walk-But they are bound to cheat-So we stick them with cattle tags linked through the magic of GPS to their Slave numbers (employee IDs) and hence their insurance benefits and salary accounts-Wrap this all up in the shiny gift wrapping paper of employee engagement and…

There is one problem. Motivation. Yes, it is in short supply. We can’t give out more green, if anything, we should be giving out less. So you tie it with up with team building-KRA- inter-department-competition hoopla, add weekly updates via mass automated mailing and voila – Healthier Slaves!

It is a modern day miracle.

So on a typical Monday morning, typical meetings begin as such:

Colleague X: Hey, we can’t start, J is not here

HS:  Oh I have put him on…another assignment

Colleague X: You mean the new product? That is a dead end

HS: No-no. This is a very important assignment; he is taking one for the team

You see, walking is a team activity with team goals and you can’t expect to HS to be out walking when there is millions worth of business walking past us. So you agree to do his part of the walking and a little bit more. It is a pain to carry a change of clothes and sneakers. You look like you are going out hunting in the morning and your use of deodorants has increased significantly. But any bit of work-life balance is welcome, random events and ulterior motives be damned.

PS: The Pedometer is not a very smart device; it continues counting even when you take a bus. It gives you a feeling of bastardly smugness, like a Hedge fund manager. But that is not how you were raised.

– J.

Courtesy Call

In humor, SlavesInc, work life balance on September 22, 2012 at 05:18

You are spent, disillusioned and disoriented. But it is still blinking. And a blinking smart phone has to be answered. You may feel like you are being professional, displaying the height of courtesy even. But the thing about courtesy is; it is seldom extended willingly, like it ought to be. What is extended is obligation. And this obligation travels around the world and comes back to you smugly disguised as civility. You return the gesture in clockwork.

You used to think to-do lists were lame. Now you can’t function without them. You also have a to-call list. And right now, there are three entries left, begging to be checked off:

  1. Your girl-friend whose 7 missed calls you are yet to return. (Alright, she is not your girl friend. But she may very well be)
  2. Your mail-only colleague who has sent the 4th reminder for the 3rd quarter report you had promised you would send 2 days ago


  1. The air-conditioner servicing guy who has already gone back twice because you were not at home

What you really want to do is doze off right there on the sofa in your formals. Unfortunately, that option does not feature on the list. So you pick up the phone and hit the little green button to call her. Then you immediately hit the little red button. You just don’t have enough left in the tank, not even enough to sound courteous.

A nap on the sofa it is, in your formals, to hell with it!

If only sleep was to come that easy. You have too many to-dos swimming around in your brain. TV and hot chocolate it is. After flipping through various abominations, you settle with a rather queer choice, Devil Wears Prada. It is more of the protagonist’s enslavement to her job and phone rather than the wardrobe that gets you hooked.

Miranda Priestly may make Head Slave look like an amateur. But the similarities are uncanny.

Even in your disorientation, one scene really sticks with you. Having had it with the protagonist’s constant engagement over the phone, the boyfriend says:

“You know, in case you were wondering – the person whose calls you always take? That’s the relationship you’re in. I hope you two are very happy together. ”

Don’t you hate it when chick flicks teach you something about your life?

You know what you have to do. You pick up the damn smart phone, hit the little green button and tell her that you’ve got your priorities messed up. You tell her you are in so deep that you need time to set them priorities right. You also tell her she doesn’t need to wait for that fateful day. You also wish her best of luck.

Now that is courtesy.

– J.