Archive for the ‘humor’ Category


In Big Brother, humor, SlavesInc on August 25, 2012 at 19:02

‘Who wants to slave away all their life?’

‘Not me.’

‘If on a year or two’s investment, you get to sit back and relax for the rest of your life, isn’t it worth it?’

‘Off course it is.’

‘Then why hold back?’

‘Coz it sounds like a Ponzy scheme.’

‘See, I spend just 10% of my time in selling. The rest of my time is concentrated on building a team.’

‘And what does your team do?’

‘They recruit more people.’

You couldn’t even say ‘I rest my case.’ Mr. B seemed to have drifted beyond the perimeter of reason.

They got to him. It was probably Mr. A that bit him. A had been babbling about this scheme for almost a year. This is like Zombie Apocalypse without the special effects.

Mr. B was one of the smartest Slaves you knew. So you decide to humor him. You decide to actually go to these ‘Seminars’ that Mr. B spoke about. Best case scenario, you will be able to save him from the brink. Worst case scenario, you will be sold to the idea yourself but atleast you will have something to believe in.

It is scarily similar to what you had imagined it would be like. Big posters everywhere. Participants looking so happy and chirpy you would think they were drugged. Aerated drinks masquerading as fruit juices, continuous subliminal announcements and…branded merchandise.

Mr. B seems to have blended right in with other Slaves from other Galleys, all exuberant on a mirage of freedom. When the ‘training sessions’ finally start, the attention and interest is staggering. If only these guys had been so rapt in school, they wouldn’t have to be here.

Between all the forms you have filled so far, you have already had to give away more details than you would have to if you were jailed for murder! It seems the longer you stay, more your chances of becoming one of them. As a precaution, you decide not to consume any of the food and drink.

So far, the Seminar has hit all the check marks for a scam in your book:

1. Greatest thing since sliced bread

2. Good for everybody including housewives and students, may be even your dog

3. ‘We sell everything, from underwear to Life Insurance.’

4. No disadvantages whatsoever

5. Plans for World Domination


6. A joining fee

So you decide to make a run for it. You don’t even deem it necessary to say goodbye to Mr. B, he is one of them now.

Rather than doing business yourself, you are giving business to people who are in the business of making you feel like you are doing business! If Slave driving has a future, this is it, Slavery on auto-pilot.

Mr. B may have found something to believe in but you already have your Clarion call:

Have the kahunas to break free on your own or go down fighting.

– J.

Are you motivated yet?

In humor, Motivation, Office Romance on August 6, 2012 at 01:09

You remember how it all started. You also remember the time before it started. But you are not sure if any else does.

To think a simple thing like that could be so addictive and so dangerous. They are everywhere now. You don’t know how you did without them.

Motivational posters are what we are talking about. Its a freaking arms race out there. Every cubicle has one, for starters. Then there are the mugs, the printed T-shirts, e-mail sign-offs and more. Oh how you hate the e-mail sign-offs!

And to think it all started with an e-mail, a forward rather by none other than HS. 

Motivational posters have always had the opposite of their intended effect on you. Perhaps you take life too seriously; perhaps you are extra allergic to phoniness. Either way; you could laugh it off and spam the damn chain mails. But now, it’s like your whole life is an e-mail forward. Your most polite mails are being responded with smiley infested replies. You can’t have a coffee break without someone taking you off-guard with a high-five. The only motivation you are getting here is to leave this mad house.

If you had been inert to inertia, you wouldn’t have been a slave in the first place. So you drudge along. You return the fake smiles with one of your own, avoid high-fives when you can. You know it has really gotten out of hand when a motivational poster campaign is announced!

3 days is all you’ve got to pimp up your rowing station. HS will come around on Monday to adjudge the most motivating motivational poster (sic). This is going to be the ultimate test of your undercover skills. Taking a leave won’t help. The non-bling nature of your cubicle will give you away even in your absence.

So you put your head down and do what everyone else is doing; Google search. You could also search your trash mail folder. But that seems too against principle. Being creative when asked to is the toughest thing. So you keep putting it off.

It is the day of assessment and you have nothing. Zilch. HS has started doing his rounds too. When he is about two cubicles away, you remember an image a similarly reluctant friend had sent you. It says: ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’

You print it out and pin it up quickly. 

‘Hmm…,’ starts HS. He keeps looking at your print-out. It ain’t that long a sentence. But you don’t want to disturb him. He even rubs his chin, deep in thought. The whole thing is so ridiculous; you can’t help but smile a little.

‘I like it,’ he says. ‘I…like to keep it simple, Sir,’ is your honest reply.

Maybe, deep down, HS has decent taste, maybe even a sense of humor. Maybe he just does what he does out of bondage to KRAs. In a phony eat phony world, you will never know.

As for your comfort zone, you will need someone to kick you out of it.

– 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?’


‘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.’


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.


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.


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.

Semi Casual

In Casual Day, humor on May 29, 2012 at 04:11

You look around you and you are surrounded. By no one in particular. But there are lots of them there. All the familiar features are present: forgettable attire, back pack strapped on, thinning around the north pole and bulging around the equator. Similar profiles and no personality. You are standing amongst an army of yous!

No, this is not a nightmare nor is it a science-fiction flick. This is just you waiting for your usual bus at the usual time for your usual job. Public transport is a great equalizer. It does not care for designations or dressing sense. And that is just as well. You were never much of a wardrobe person. For you, people with expensive wardrobes are snobbish; people with shabby clothes are lazy. And you occupy the sweet spot of simple living somewhere in the middle.

In the middle of a particularly long-drawn week, you take an uncharacteristic decision. You decide to actually dress casual on casual day this week. Nothing else seems to be helping. Everyone else has been doing it. You have been sticking out like a telephone pole in your tucked-in shirts all these Fridays.

So come Friday, you show up in your best loose fits, looking more blunt than usual. You feel unarmed but try to walk it off with a smile. Come lunch time, you find yourself seated at a table of elders, none of whom look like they have ever owned a pair of jeans. And that is just as well. The thought of HS contained strenuously in denim and a Yankees shirt isn’t something you would want flashing across your brain at lunch time.

These senior gentlemen look particularly uptight today with ties and cufflinks. You on the other hand are cloth in an un-ironed old T-shirt. You limit your eye contact to your plate to avoid any embarrassment. You are through to desert and it has been uneventful so far. But just before you can excuse yourself and your casualness off the table, one of the elders starts elbowing HS. Maybe it’s just nerves but it sure seems like they are talking about you. And sure enough, while getting up, HS leans over and tells you to come see him in his office immediately.

‘Why are you dressed like this?’

The question seems simple enough. It can be met with various replies ranging from aggressive to submissive. But all you can manage is:

‘I can go change sir…’

‘Please do. We are giving away the President’s Award this afternoon and you will be needed up on stage.’

What a way to receive good news. You rush off to the nearest mall and end up buying the most expensive white shirt and dark trousers of your life. But it feels worth it when you are up on the stage receiving the award on casual day, no less.

You don’t say this often enough but there is a lesson in this experience. Your dressing or the lack of it is a form of misplaced rebellion, not a matter of socio-economic circumstance. You ought to dress sharper for yourself, not for conformity or the lack of it.


Too Late, too Less

In Appraisal, humor, Salary, Wage Slaves on May 20, 2012 at 04:55

What do you work for? To keep busy? To feel useful? For recognition? For the greater good of mankind?

Anything but money, right? Yeah, tell yourself that. Tell yourself your motivations are on a much higher plane than…daily bread. But with runaway inflation and a bunch of show-offs for Facebook friends, daily bread is the least of your worries. Yes, everyone and his cousin seem to be taking a world tour and buying i-Pads. And you are sitting there ruing over your daily commuting cost.

You are face to face with…FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

For the wage slave, opportunity to progress in life comes but once a year, on a pre-ordained date. This year, the date has come and gone. There is no word about the letter, that single printout which will set the tone for the next 12 months of your mortal existence. And tilt the trajectory of your fiscal fate down towards poverty.

Working for money is a tacit setting, like a conditional friendship. It is well understood but impolite when expressed openly. So you can’t ask or express your displeasure, not about the money.

Week 2 into no-letter land, you have already received your salary slip. Try as you may, you can’t resist calculating against last month’s salary slip to find out the difference.

…there isn’t any! In fact, you have actually received fewer quid in hand than last year. The story of your appraisal has gone from drama to suspense to tragedy and now, an anti-climax. ‘Is this current month’s salary or last month’s salary?’ a similarly ill-fated colleague yells out. 

As other teams receive and rejoice, you feel like a special needs kid on sport’s day awards.

More than a week later, HS finally summons you into his cabin with a smile. You return the smile with ‘whatever’ expression. He finally found the time from his ultra-busy schedule. If only HS could clone himself so his mini-me could get around to unenviable tasks such as smiling through difficult increment sessions.

‘So, how are we doing today?’ is his uninspired opener. You want to convey your choicest opinions. But you manage to just grind your teeth and narrow your brow instead. With your carrot turning to peanuts, you don’t have much to lose.


 Without fear, niceties and formality go out of the window. HS is leaning forward resting his forearms on the table in what looks like mild anxiety. You are slouching in your chair in mild exasperation.

‘As you know, it has been a difficult year for all of us…’

‘We already know the salary. Just hand over the damn letter and be done with it.’

HS has no come back. You take the letter and walk out. The coolness of what you just did only sinks in after a couple of minutes. So that is what inspiration feels like. You ought to feel it more often.

Whoever said they don’t work for money probably had a large inheritance.

–          J.

Slave Station 2.0

In humor, Office humor, Technology on May 3, 2012 at 21:32

The thing about old friends is…they know you…And there is a thing or two to be said about familiarity. The personal kind, not the kind thrown at you through an analysis of your browsing history.

But the march of future is inevitable. If you still think Android is something to do with biology and if you still carry a pen in your breast pocket, chances are you’ll look more outdated than retro. You belong to the land of elbow pads, carbon copy and (gasp!) Orkut.

After holding out for months, you have finally had to upgrade to a laptop. With Murphy’s specter in action, the administrative work moves faster than ever. Soon, you are faced with a sleek new machine that you will practically have to go to bed with everyday. As you pull out the plugs on your old faithful, you feel like you are being forced to administer euthanasia to an old family member.

And that is not all, there are also signing formalities for the handover, like death certificates. As the laptop is switched on, you look at its shiny new operating system and glossy icons. It’s like it is trying too hard to please. All you can manage is contempt. Perhaps this is what being old feels like.

Besides the bells and whistles, the new machine is also a needy creature. It needs to be hauled around your back wherever you go. It needs a charge about as many times as you take a loo break. And unlike your old work station, you certainly can’t kick it when it hangs. You would end up hurting more than its feelings. Now you know why your father hangs on to his old Fiat in the era of Prius.

Nostalgia aside, there is certainly a thing or two to be said about ergonomics. You can’t work for twelve hours and more in a submissive pose on the ‘lappy’ (puke!). You are not going to give in that easy. So you tame the machine. You attach an external keyboard, an external mouse and mount the damn thing on some boxes so you can see it eye to eye.

Sleek was never your style. So they can call you DOS Uncle if they like. But till they plant a chip in your head, you are going to fight it! The thing about old friends is…they are old. And you would trade gloss for warmth any day.

–          J.

The Letter of Your Dreams

In Appraisal, HR, humor, Office humor on April 24, 2012 at 01:52

‘If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you.’

That is just the kind of misnomer of an insight you want to start your day with. The new vendor for your intranet sites is still in his show-off stage. Hence, a daily dose of dumb-down wisdom (‘Quote of the day’) greets you every time you sign in to view your salary slip (a depressing exercise in itself).

But it does get your attention. There are bald guys out there making a killing with the verbal equivalents of stick figure stock photos and you are just sitting there in your cube…reading them! What is with this inertia?

You put it down to lack of motivation/provocation.

With appraisal season upon you, the creature that is your loyalty is getting wings again. ‘Once the letter in my hands, this little birdie will fly, fly away!’ said Mr. Anders, a fellow slave and 10 year veteran.

‘Didn’t he say that last year?’

‘I think so, but in a less delirious way.’

You don’t know whether to laugh at a grown man doing a birdie flutter motion or to be scared by the wild glee in his eyes. You choose to take the scissor out of his reach when he is not looking.

One by one, nine to fivers are being called into the fateful glass cabin of Head Slave. The whole thing has a very Big Boss feel to it. One healthy year of your mortal existence condensed in a couple of pages of type…the letter of your dreams. Much of the type, off course; is legal spells. Just in case any of the laborers get any bright ideas. You are surprised HS does not have security, a Rottweiler perhaps, to stand by him in case the letter triggers a slave to go Spartacus on his ass!

It has all gone uneventfully, if not amicably till now. Mr. Anders is up next. Slaves awaiting their turn line up at an angle to the cabin to get a peek of the silent drama across the glass, much against the secretary’s assertions. It is like seeing a silent movie without the subtitles and a background music that is only playing in your head.

Into the third minute, Anders has not done his birdie dance yet. You expect the worse. He comes out a couple of minutes later, walks slowly to his desk and goes about randomly clicking icons. You walk up to him, more out of solidarity than wanting to know.

‘What is one more year huh?’ he says not looking up from his screen. An implosion can be a dangerous thing. Good thing you took the scissors away.

You strike lack of motivation/provocation off your list of reasons to stay back.

No one stopped smoking overnight. And Mr. Taleb has said: ‘The three most dangerous addictions in the world are heroin, carbohydrates and a monthly salary.’

Now that is your kind of quote.

–          J.

Fwd: This is not a forward

In Blogging, e-mail, humor, Interpersonal, Motivation, Office humor on April 10, 2012 at 05:34

There it sits, smugly in your inbox. It always seems to pop in at the right time…like it knew. Like it knew its presence was required or its intrusion tolerated.

You know you should ignore it. Dump it, junk it, spam it, damn it. But there it sits, smugly in you inbox. In the red of the Unread. Maybe it’s your inherent decency that prevents you from using your spam folder to good effect.

But what the hell, it only asks for a couple of minutes. And this one talks about split second decisions. How could it hurt?

From the land of densely formatted excel sheets, you are transported to a train. A speeding train i.e. And you are in the driver’s seat. A few hundred yards away, innocent kids are playing seemingly unaware of oncoming death!

You have one option. You could turn to the extra track on the right. But there is; off course, a catch. A lone kid is playing on that track too. Maybe he is a kid with a learning disorder or maybe he is simply unpopular. May be he is mature enough to know not to play on the tracks that are in frequent use. You feel a kinship with him already.

But that is not the point here. You have a runaway train on your hands and you could save 7 kids by sacrificing one! The moral dilemma is clear: sacrificing one law abiding unpopular kid for the law flaunting innocuous bunch.

The answer too is clear after a twist at the end. But most of you have received this e-mail forward already. So we shall move on. With appraisals around the corner, you may see this forward as a hint; an allegory even, of things to come. You may find it ludicrous to different degrees depending on how low you rate the clown that sent the forward. The point is if you are not doing your dream job, any distraction is welcome. And you wonder why the cheesiest forwards get perpetuated?

See how far you have drifted now. You had better hit the spam button next time. It is about being assertive. Isn’t that on your resolution list?

The forward did make you think though. Inspiration can arrive in the strangest vehicles. Maybe you can create something of your own. Something that fellow humans find familiar yet worth reading, obvious yet difficult to articulate, until now. It will definitely not be as lame as a ‘motivational’ forward. And you wouldn’t want to spam people either. It would be the anti-thesis of a motivational e-mail, a weekly epiphany via blog post. To espouse the mild mannered adventures of a nine-to-fiver seems like a worthy cause. You can call it Slaves Incorporated (TM).

– J.