Archive for the ‘Interpersonal’ Category

Power Lunch

In Head Slave, Interpersonal, Interview, Office humor, Power Lunch on March 10, 2012 at 20:37

You never liked the office Cafeteria. For one, they never served coffee. The food was barely edible. And the line-up to the food eerily resembles a prison canteen. To top it all, you are required to sign against our name to avoid you from taking seconds. You can’t imagine swallowing one batch of this mass produced feed matter. But systems are made keeping the masses in mind.

Once you secure a plate and pile it what seems least repulsive, your next challenge is to find a place to sit. Sure there are vantage points and sweet spots to be hunted for. But on most days, just finding enough space to rest your derriere and perch your plate is good enough.

Today is one of those days. The company you did not choose to have is Head Slave himself. He looks ambivalent mingling with the mortals. You look harrowed, being one.

Small talk eventually leads to interview type questions. Between giving the safest possible answers and ignoring looks of mock awe from your usual lunch buddies, you get very little eating done. At the end of it, you feel like you have been interrogated for a Class Action lawsuit. HS now knows more about you than your last girlfriend.

You know you should have been prepared for this. An elevator test can happen anywhere. But the barrage of whys and hows coupled with the prison food are hampering your performance. The trick here is to ask a short question: Why? How? Can you elaborate? And then do your eating while your subject jumbles over his answer and fumbles over the food. Unfortunately, as Bottom Slave, you cannot do much asking.  Whenever you are able to swallow the last morsel in time to blurt out a sensible answer, a phone call that HS just has to answer derails your train.

It is no surprise that he finishes before you. With every reluctant bite you take, he seems to be getting jittery. You also seem to be taking an eternity to chew your food. Though bugged overall, you are impressed with HS’s ability to eat/swallow and talk fast at the same time. It is almost as if he has evolved into a post-humanoid that doesn’t need to chew its food. Maybe he regurgitates it later. With that thought, you decide you have had enough, of lunch. You politely get up half-way to signal it’s time to go.

Having lunch at your desk seems like a better idea by the day.



Fit to Slave

In HR, humor, Interpersonal, Interview, Office humor, SlavesInc on March 6, 2012 at 03:33

‘I am a fun-loving person who likes to talk to people.’

‘I like to work in a challenging environment with dynamic growth opportunities.’

‘I like travelling and listening to music.’

Who doesn’t? (you finally intervene)

‘…in my free time’

You: (a look that says ”D’uh”)

This is what a typical slave round-up interview recruitment process goes like. And it is not very different from when you were recruited.

Now that you are on the other side of the table, your expression has changed. It has changed from mock eagerness to mock contempt.

As yet another candidate walks out post a volley of niceties, you and your fellow adjudicators can’t help but exhange weary looks and snide remarks. There is a definite Idol vibe going on. You are not sure if you are immitating TV or interviewers everywhere can’t help but be this way!

When it is finally time to come out with the results, you are caught between two worlds. One warns you of falling for personal prejudices and gut feel. The other reasons that you have done your best to be fair under the time restraint. It is not like you are assessing someone for marriage!

Your inner rebel finally breaks through and vouches for a candidate who doesn’t exactly ‘fit the bill’. With this candidate, Intelligence is not a question; willingness to get hands dirty is.

And sure enough, your dark horse disappoints you. She backs out at the first mention of fieldwork. You remember George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air:

‘I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.’

At least you tried.

– 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.


Office Party

In Friday, humor, Interpersonal, Office humor, Party on January 6, 2012 at 01:39

Your body has gotten used to the forced comfort and your mind is abuzz. Your senses are being blasted from all directions but without any coherence. Some faces are familiar, others a blur. Some are hard on the eyes. But you are having a good time. You had better be having a good time now…

It is the office after party. It lies somewhere between dull and dicey, interpersonal and intrusive. It starts off as an extended Friday and can end as a social disaster. It is not the most screenworthy of parties but nothing like a free tab to get slaves to a rally.

Three tall ones down, you are hit by sudden clarity. You don’t feel so lost anymore. It is like your entire office got teleported to a bar. All the characters: Head Slave, the Cribber, the bright spark, loose fit Larry are there. They are in the same position/disposition and posture you are used to seeing them: behind a desk, slouching over a screen, cup in hand, hand scratching head and so on. Only the lights are not as bright and the coffee machine is replaced by a beer dispenser.

The topics of conversation are also the same, only louder due to the crappy music and intoxication on the house. Fourth one down, things start moving in slow motion. Like a Guy Ritchie movie, you can foresee the near future. You are pretty sure the cribber will continue to crib till somebody gathers the courage or the blood alcohol level to tell her to STFU. You can also see that too-tight Tim and the fat guy whose name you can never remember are going to come to blows. Meanwhile, the intern is being provoked by well-meaning seniors to chug one more glass which he will puke out any moment.

In an instant, you decide to press the eject button. Dragging your coat behind, you slip away like a cat. As the door closes behind, you can almost visualize vomit smearing colleagues and onlookers, punches landing on rounded cheeks and pot bellies and the choicest words ringing out over the music.  You could have stayed back and made a video. But you are not a big fan of YouTube.

You so need to meet new people.

–          J.

Boy For the Job

In Head Slave, humor, Interpersonal, Office humor on November 8, 2011 at 02:43

He never frowns at your laziness and is always willing to help. He knows just how much sugar you like in your coffee and just how much you dislike wet washroom floors.

Unfortunately, he is not the perfect husband. He is only the office boy. With more than twice your tenure and less than half your compensation, he is a rare package of loyalty, versatility and value for clams for your employer. Yet he never takes his position for granted nor does he question his earnings.

However, like perfect husbands, office boys are in short supply but invisible to appreciation when around. Having spent enough working days without one to call on, your dam of appreciation is ready to break.

It has been so many days since you had a decent cuppa that you have forgotten what it tastes like. You have sent back many a guest, vendor and customer without even offering them water. Your indoor plants are on the verge of death from malnutrition. The air conditioning does not start and stop on time. Stationary has become a scarce and coveted resource, like cigarettes in prison.

You and your fellow inmates resemble a pack of zombies in desperate need of either the comforts of modern civilization or a bullet to the head! That is when an ordinary caffeine-starved morning suddenly begins to look up.

He is much too old to be referred to as ‘boy’ but there he is: the new office…guy, Jerry. Shutters up, AC on and a warm smile to go with your random errands. Everyone is walking up to him to shake hands and be introduced. It is all too congenial. Jerry is like the cool guy at the after party or a celebrity guest on Oprah.

The very next morning you and a few other early birds are perched outside the office, waiting for it to be opened. You carry mixed feelings for the new office boy has not turned up. You pray that he is late and not absconding, conveniently forgetting that the last office boy was fired precisely for coming late.

But Jerry does turn up having lost his way in the parking lot. You instinctively walk up to him to wish good morning! Head Slave himself walks up to him: ‘Pleased to meet you,’ he says sounding more genuine than he would have taking his marital vows. You finally feel some compensation for the office boy’s minimum wage.

– 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.

Cube and Culpa

In Coffee Mug, humor, Interpersonal, Office, Wage Slaves on August 31, 2011 at 12:55

You are impressed by your own ability to find bright spots in the dim-lit terrain of the galley. So what if your previous ray of hope turned out to be a flickering flash light? Something about how hard one falls and gets up…you either heard it in Rocky V/VI or in the training program last wasted weekend. Either way, it sounds right and positive.

The new bright spot is called Nina and she seems to go about with a halo around her, the kind they show in fairness cream ads. Her voice is not delivered in the monotone you are used to from fellow slaves. Her attire shows more imagination than most inmates who have a fixed dress for every weekday. And she possesses a non-borrowed sense of humor. It is a combination so rare that coincidence alone cannot claim credit for it.

So what if she is in legal, a department you have never had to correspond with? Over the past two months, a record number of legal queries have sprung up. Over these two months, you have discovered functionalities on your intercom and IM you never knew existed. You are convinced of the feasibility of your persual. If she were not hip with the interest, she would have gone sour on you by now, right?

Serendipitous run-ins at the copier aside, you finally manage a coffee tête-à-tête. It is less apparent than a date and more relaxed than a meeting. You are jittery but pleasant, she is calm but unyielding. It is all flowing well, like a freshly cartriged printer untill…you notice her hand on the cup of caffeine.

The ring on her ring finger is as unmistakable as a paper jam and as disappointing as blocked site. The sparkle of the stone on her ring is in stark contrast to the gloom you will be returining to from tomorrow. You manage to waddle through rest of the tête-à-tête without asking her. There will be lots of time for that over IM. You may not have found a new bright spot but you have found a rarer species called a new friend.

You say Mea Culpa to yourself and move on. ‘Tis better to have tried and looked stupid than to have never tried at all.

– J.

Call Me Sam

In Boss, HR, humor, Interpersonal, Office on July 12, 2011 at 15:00

You wear Wal Mart shirts, Woodland shoes (sneakers on Fridays) and have Nescafe…or whatever is available. He wears Allen Solly forced fits, Red Tapes that thunder with each step and sips green tea. One would think you guys are at least from different neighborhoods if not a different geographies altogether. But actually, you practically grew up on the same street. He calls you Stan and insists you call him Sam. He was, at best, a slow starter. You were, on your worst day, above average. Or so you believed.

But a couple of promotions and one round of restructuring later, Sam-the Man has arrived. What he lacks in spunk and stature, he makes up with the length of this back rest and per day allowance while on tour. For Sam is now the General Manager…of support services…but GM none the less. You; are still ‘Chief Manager’, the Al Gore of managerial races. He calls you Stan in a way that is patronizing and condescending at the same time. You manage to call him ‘Sir’ and ‘Mr. Estello’ in a mixture of badly disguised defiance and resentment…which is why he insists you call him Sam. Sam is a background irritant. Overtime, you internalize it, learn toFore! tune him away. But when he calls you on a Sunday, you lose it. On a good Sunday, you play ping-pong. Sam called you from the luxury of his newly acquired Golf club membership. It is not a business call, not even a follow-up call. It is the worst kind of call of all, a ‘courtesy call’. Just in case you missed the news, the man yelling ‘Fore’ in the background puts all doubts to rest. You want to tell him to mind his golf club so it doesn’t stub his toe. But you don’t. You are just left to stare at your lonely ping-pong bat. That is when you know it’s time to upgrade Sam from an annoyance to a purgative, a motivation to get off your ass, a propellant to shake you out of your procrastination. In the long run, you will thank him.

– J.

Cube and Cupid

In humor, Interpersonal, Office, Office Romance on July 3, 2011 at 17:59

The thing about bright spots is, they always appear if you look for them hard enough. They drive and motivate like no other incentive.

After months of futile attempts, you finally began to make it for the 8:15 am bus. Not through doggedness and ridiculously early alarms but because she takes the same bus. Yes, she the is one person you let cut in line at the photo copier. You never ask her to return the pens you lend her, even staplers, making her the only one with this privilege. You are the first one to notice if she is absent for a day. You momentarily resent the fact that she did not tell you about her plans yesterday only to slap yourself on the back of your head a minute later…

As obvious as an office romance

…you, my friend, have a case of  office crush.

I would say office romance but modesty is an art that has to be practiced forcefully. Sure there are stats about how common office romances are and how a large number of office romances end up in (gulp) marriage. Many others are lawsuits waiting to happen.

But you don’t give a rusted paper clip about that, do you? What you want to know is where she was a few months ago? Has she just returned from a ‘Get Gorgeous’ style ‘reality show’? Are you feeling the effects of the dearth of a social life? Is this what they call ‘The Mermaid Effect’? One thing is for sure, you do not want to look like a stupid college kid with a crush.

Office would be more boring without Amber

You purposely miss the 8:15 bus for the next couple of days. Things start looking as pedestrian as they were and as they really are. You miss the spring in your step. But you are happy to have realized that a routine life can be more than bearable with a bright spot. She…will probably not even notice you are gone.

– J.

‘What was your name again?’

In humor, Interpersonal, Office, Office Romance, Organisation on June 21, 2011 at 04:13

“You spoke with my boss, Mr. Doodlesberg?”

You know the guy mentioned some normal name but it just did not register.

“Yes”, you reply, “I’ll send that mail right away to…”

“I am Mr. Hanselboy.”

“Mister…?” – You want one more chance.

Mr. Hanselboy ,” he says matter-of-factly.

 Snapping finger while trying to remember something never seems to help

It has finally happened.





Your brain’s contact list has reached full capacity. To remember any more new names, you will have to delete some old ones.

Between online communities and syncing multiple devices, you can’t put a name to a face without it being on a screen. Staring at person’s chest to read his/her name off the ID card is not a good idea either. Memory tools like linking morphological and racial peculiarities to names is too much to handle for today’s hyper-propah environment. Adding them on FB is a scary thought.

When all fails, resort to pen and paper

Maybe, you could actually physically write down the names. If only, you could find a pen, and then, some paper, you could avoid situations such as:

“How could you lose the pen drive?”

“I did not lose it, I lent it to someone.”

“Someone who?”

“You know; the new guy with the eye thing.”

“No, I don’t know the new guy with the eye thing.”

“Well, there are so many of them…”


The one with the glasses is called Bhavesh for ‘B” flipped 90 degrees looks like glasses!

Perhaps, you are not outgoing as they say. But how social can you be? With 400 employees and an attrition of 20%, you are looking at remembering 2 new names every working day for the rest of your career!

And if you are contributing to the attrition yourself, you have to learn an entirely new set of names. “This is Mr. X, this is Mr. Blah and that is Miss. Liz,” says your new boss as he debuts you at your new galley. “This is like a marriage reception, you just have to smile. Do not hope to remember any names,” he tells you on the side lines. ‘If only more people were memorable, like Liz,’ you tell your dreamy-eyed self.

– J.