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Archive for the ‘Office humor’ Category

Town Hall

In Big Brother, Office humor, SlavesInc on August 26, 2013 at 23:52

Life is full of transactions. Many monetary, some legal but most social. Phone calls, IMs, meetings, coffee, interviews. In the unlikely event that you get the time to consider how many of these are desired, you would realise just how much you have abdicated your freedom.

social-butterfly business

These are lofty thoughts for the garden variety employee, especially during working hours. But you are on the semblance of a high right now. You are on an air cushion of defiance. For you have given the town hall meeting a pass. Whilst 100s of your fellow rowers try to look attentive and not miss an occasion to clap, you are sitting idly in the relative peace of your cubicle.

300-rise-of-an-empire-Xereses

Through updates on your intelligent phone, you know the address by ‘Senior Leadership’ is as dull and uninspiring as expected. You are feeling better about yourself by the minute. You may even put some music on to accompany the brisk elation in the air.

Cloud-9

But as it so often happens, when you think you are getting too ahead of yourself, you probably are.

‘What are you doing here?’ It’s Head Slave, seemingly having assumed form from vapour.

‘…What are you doing here?’ is your surprising counter-offensive after a moment’s stratlement.

‘I…came here…for a glass of water, see.’  HS gulps down a glass of water rather uncomfortably. ‘Why aren’t you attending the town hall meeting upstairs?’

‘Its…astonishingly boring.’

‘Well…it’s not appropriate not to attend this meeting.’

Wow. HS actually had no objection to you finding the meeting boring, astonishingly so. You tell yourself that is victory enough for one day and march upstairs to comply.

Dilbert ISO Compliance

It is another one of those undesired transactions and a one-sided one at that. Big Boss is rattling off slide after slide to the collective dismay of his captive audience. But you are happy being on this side of the transaction where compliance is independent of belief.

– J.

Property Dispute

In Head Slave, Hiearchy, HR, Office humor on August 14, 2013 at 04:40

Some words are married to each other. No matter how hard they try and how traumatic their relationship, they still end up staying stuck together. Like terminal and illness, Herculean and task, company and policy, property and dispute.

Some of these words have been married so long they don’t remember how life was before they tied the knot. It is true that wherever there is property there is bound to be dispute. There is not much evidence but in all probability, the first word man ever said was, ‘Mine!’
space-odyssey-apes

 

You have to remind yourself of this and the minimalist approach you want to take to life when faced with an encroachment. You have to remind yourself that all ownership is assumed. And the lesser one assumes, greater the chances of him avoiding disappointments.

Matrix minimalist poster

‘There’

‘This one?’

‘Yeah, that cubicle looks fine.’

‘But he sits there.’

‘Oh that’s alright. We will shift him to the new office near the train station.’

You; off course, have an ‘I am sitting right here!’ expression on your face. But it is lost on your HR colleague’s fascist sensibilities.

So you verbalize the feeling. But it has little effect.

‘One of our VPs wants to move to this office. We need to build a cabin for him. You will be shifted to our new office near the train station.’

Well, now that is pretty straightforward. Insensitive maybe. But it definitely leaves no room for ambiguity. Got to appreciate that. Perhaps this guy should try another profession where his skills could be better utilized. Like an announcer at a train station or crowd control at a religious event or slave driver at a Puma sweatshop in Bangladesh. But with your squatting rights being quashed you find it difficult to be benevolent enough to give the HR person these suggestions.

sweatshop just do it

You do go to Head Slave though, as soon as he is back from his Mediterranean holiday/business trip. He listens patiently and assures you that no such relocation is as yet confirmed. And if at all it is, everyone will move together.

Sweat shop Simpsons

 

There is not much you can further protest to. But you do put in a kind word for HR and their landlording.

The word together sticks with you. Even if you were to be shifted to a warehouse or a far off hanger, would you want to see the same tired faces every single day? Like the nth rerun of Wonder Years or Home Improvement.

Couch Potato

 

As you proceed back to your cubicle, memories of blurry, bad and bearable times you have had here flash before you. You realise you are assuming too much again. One thing you need not assume is the inevitability of disappointments. And if you are to endure them, facing newer ones would be less painful than courting the same ones again and again.

challengeaccepted– J.

Retired / Absconding / Dead

In HR, Interview, Office humor, Retirement on July 22, 2013 at 17:08

* Resigned / Transferred / Promoted / Retired / Absconding / Dead

There they are staring at you through a pivot table. The universe of choices available to you the employee. Precise, clear, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. But not very motivating.

Prisoner

Not that motivation was the intention anyway. You remind yourself that you have a tendency to look for motivation in all the wrong places. You need to concentrate on the task at hand. Classifying hundreds of exit interviews or lack thereof into neat non-threatening categories. It seemed at first an unenviable assignment. Your team is bent on churning out some graphs and hitting SEND. But you can’t help but read some of the responses out loud. Most are of the pedestrian ilk:

  • To pursue better avenues
  • Relocating
  • Mom is ill
  • Going for higher studies

But some are interesting, almost inspiring:

  • Going to Osho Ashram for a year to practice meditation
  • Starting a consultancy of my own, connect with me on…
  • Going back to look after father’s farm
  • Finally won a property dispute granting me 70 million!

Now we are talking!

‘Who is this guy?’

‘70-****-million?’

‘Maybe he can hire us now.’

‘Is he married?’

WinningTicket

And similar chatter indicates your team is alive. Who would have thought records of slavery would serve as interesting reading. Seemingly sterile in aggregation, but brimming in isolation. Brimming with sound and poetry. With stories and potential, sunshine and possibilities…if only we decide to.

Decisions are often rued and seldom taken. They are deferred, deterred and pondered over. They bring great power but also attract a great deal of gravity. They seem easier in hindsight and impossible in the here and now. Leaders make decisions, managers execute them and slaves follow.

Obama Chair

Seeing so many of them together is a rather disorientating experience. Especially as these are decisions taken by the average voter. Decisions to leave this galley and move on. Move on to greener pastures, slimmer work hours and fatter pay cheques or at least one of the above. Anywhere but here.

Dealing with decisions is daunting. You would rather have it imposed than go through the ordeal of deciding yourself. This has dual benefits. Less taxation for the brain and you get someone to blame later.

Rock_Paper_Scissors__Hitler

You may have found some motivation after all, albeit in traces. You change the morose classification:

* Resigned / Transferred / Promoted / Retired / Absconding / Dead

to a lighter one:

Quit / Assisted / Concluded

At least, it will force your descendants to dig deeper.

You still need to make those graphs though.

– J.

I am a Straightforward Guy

In Interpersonal, Office humor on July 6, 2013 at 18:55

In a world of pretentions, a manager is the ideal citizen. He knows no cast, creed or compassion.  But he excels at compliance. He knows no fright, folly or free will. But he flatters the fraternity. In a social situation he may closely resemble the framework of a jerk. In a climate controlled environment, he is an ideal resource.

Manager

So when you get a call from the new project manager; let’s call him Skippy for the time being,  saying he needs to talk to you ‘man-to-man’, you are more amused than surprised and more eager than anxious.

You enter Skipppy’s cabin. He offers you a seat with a stoic look on his face and a stony look in his eye. Emotion; be it any kind, is a refreshing change in the galley.

‘Let me tell you I am a straightforward guy. I tell it like it is. Apolitical to the core. I have paid the price for it many times. But that is how I am…’

The unsolicited self-introduction goes on for another couple of minutes. Whenever three consecutive sentences begin with the all powerful ‘I’, you switch off. In this case you let Skippy’s mannerisms convey the broad message of his monologue while an Opera high note plays in your head. It is almost like he is shouting in slow motion; and on mute.

Publ. - (Diena, Nr.291, 5.lpp., 12/13/05)

He goes on to relate to you the tough times he has had in his life and how he has survived. To the manager, this is of little interest. To the sentiment being, it is mildly engaging. So you listen with a bemused smile on your face.

Skippy leans forward and grabs your knee with a ‘look into my eyes’ expression. You assure him that you are listening and are waiting for him to finish.

ChristopherWalken

It turns out one of your emails made its way to his inbox as a backhanded commitment. The manager inside you wanted to tell him to express his displeasure over email. But you leave it offline with an assurance that your email was not meant for him and drew on a different context.

fb_friend_league.png

Several compliments and handshakes later you leave Skippy’s cabin. In a world of pretentions, Skippy may not be the ideal resource.  But you may have made for yourself one of those rare things, a new friend.

– J.

Con Call

In Meeting, Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 24, 2013 at 02:28

There are 5 distinct voices, maybe six. And they all sound anxious.  Maybe not anxious. But definitely edgy. Each seems to be having an agenda at odds with the others. None sounds like it wants to be there. There is tension mounting but on the surface,  civility prevails.

Reservoir Dogs Poster 1

This is not a Tarantino movie. It’s just the latest in a string of cross-functional meetings. Offcourse, the word meeting is only notional.  The modern knowledge worker is not bound by trivialities like location or even gravity. All five cons on the con call are in different locations,  conditions and even time zones. You are the sixth one having assumed the safer role of chronicler with tempers flying high elsewhere.

Star Trek Delphi

Grumpy Con 1: “You are not getting the point.”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, you are not getting the point! ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we summarise what we have agreed on till now?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, we have not agreed on anything. ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we atleast try?”

Suicidal Con 4: “Ok, but we would only be wasting more time.”

Somewhat sane Con 5: “I think we should take this from the start.”

(Collective sigh)

You: “Yeah, why not?”

And thus starts the second hour of this fruitful discussion. A large group of civilians are to be counselled at a health camp in the coming week as a CSR initiative. But one of your ‘channel partners’ has backed out citing unforseen circumstances. It is now up to you to call off the camp altogether or foot the bill from contingency funds.

The choice would be simple enough if customers were your priority as the textbooks will have you believe. But there too many managers and no ownership in the concoction of this broth. Everything from company image to Act of God is cited to call off the event and go into damage control mode. But nothing about the clueless souls who will line up next week as promised.

But we digress.  For the chronicler cannot afford emotion to creep in as bias. He should, he must report events and actions, or lack thereof as they happen,  no matter how uninspiring.

Dilbert Conference call

Deep into the second hour, energy levels of all cons are sapping, even con 3-the coffee junkie. Traffic,  crying babies and blaring speakers can be heard in the backgrounds of the various participants. Con 2’s voice is booming and echoing like a megalomaniac at the end of a tiresome Bond film. You must have spoken the least in the last hundred minutes but have enjoyed the melee the most. You have also managed to sqeeze in some light exercise,  tea and dinner along with newspaper skimming in this time.

simpsons phone-call

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj? Can we go ahead with these assumptions?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, I don’t see how we can. But I leave it upto Raj.”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj, what do you think? Surely we can…”

Grumpy Con 2: “Raj, can you hear us?”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj you there? Hello?”

Raj, by the way, is the project lead and he seems to have bailed on this brain swarming session a long time ago. And no one even noticed. So impressed are you by this single decisive act that you decide to drop off the call yourself.

The Office Project-Manager

And nothing happens. No reminders or reprimands,  no contingencies or consequence. Too many managers, no ownership.  Too much progress, no contentment.

– J.

Elevator Pitch

In Office humor, Office Romance on June 22, 2013 at 05:20

Life is a series of slots, some memorable, many forgettable but most repetitive and largely uninspiring. Like your sister’s music collection or your uncle’s wardrobe.  So is the case with your elevator buddies.

24wallpaper

This is the crowd that seems to clock exactly the same twenty four hours as you. You see them every day. Same time, same elevator. There is the grumpy aunty, the almost hot secretary,  the fat guy seen perpetually with a coffee mug and the guy who is always digging his nose. Then there is you. Staring at the floor number flashing.  Wondering where the hell the last twenty four hours went. The ring of the bell snaps you out of it and you are primed for yet another shift. Office Elevator But it has not been working for the past week. Not since she joined your elevator group.  You can’t call her buddy, not yet. You have not managed to get her name.  But she should suffice for now. She stands out of the elevator crowd like those stock images. A kind face in a raging mob. A stray ray of sun in a coal mine. She has the right mix of assertion and girl-next-doorness to elicit your attention.

Umbrella ray of hope

You have been trying to inch closer to this ray of hope every day. But there is not much give in a rush hour elevator. It is still something to look forward to…the little adventures in life… All this talk about elevators has got you thinking about an elevator pitch. A project manager from the head office has been cited recently in your premises.  But he is too chic to give you five minutes face time. The elevator is the only place to throw him a curve ball. You ought to have a pitch for her too. But that is a whole different skill set. On a fateful Monday, both candidates are within pitching distance.  The project manager actually recognises you and asks you what you wanted to see him about. You are about to start your routine when 7th floor arrives. The usual suspects are holding up the elevator for their friends to budge in. The resulting squabble throws you off mark. She seems disturbed too. You tell the manager you will send him an e-mail. He seems disappointed as he walks out at the eight floor. ‘Quite a racket over a couple of minutes,’ her first words to you. “If time were money, we would all be kings,” is your not so bad reply. She smiles. The elevator door closes. A Monday rises above average. Image Life is a series of slots, some memorable, many forgettable but most repetitive and largely uninspiring. You have to make the inspiring ones count. – J.

Waiting List

In Appraisal, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on May 1, 2013 at 23:28

Waiting…is the easiest thing in the world. It may be boring but it is passive. Waiting for a call, a bus, a discount, a letter. Waiting for a sign, a smile, for inspiration,  for the right time, the right girl and the right opportunity. And if it never comes it ain’t your fault. You were right there. You didn’t make a scene. You were polite. You just waited. And it never came.

image

The past few weeks have turned this past time into somewhat of a mild and lasting anxiety attack. It is not so much the ‘what if it never comes,’ it is more of the ‘what after it doesn’t’ bit that has been keeping you up. We are; off course,  still talking of the appraisal letter. And it is imminent,  not by the look of things or via grapevine but by the sheer date on the calendar.

Rumors about the company selling off and half the work force being laid off have stopped amusing people. Latest word out on the street is that this year there won’t be no letters at all. Not in the historical sense of the word anyway. The future has arrived and in the future there are no fits and fights, only bits and bytes. So the condensation of a year’s drudgery, of twelve month’s labour, of four seasons of farming will be a 10 kb pdf file that will quietly pop in to your inbox and set you up for another twelve months of the same.

image

They will take away from you the one thing you always thought you would have; cribbing. You know cribbing won’t change what is already in print. You know the maths of it only allows a few lucky slaves to beat inflation every year. You know in the larger scheme of things, everyone is expendable. You know the house always wins. But when all else fails, atleast you had the consolation of crying your heart out to Head Slave. Of verbalizing your dissatisfaction. Call it the human touch, if you will. And with Head Slave you can use the word human only lightly.

When you least expect it, HS calls you into his cabin and asks you to have a seat. You are trying to stifle the remainder of hope still bubbling in your gut. What follows is another round of ‘It’s been a tough year for all of us,’ and ‘I really tried…’

At least they did not sink to the new low of sterile e-mail exchange. Even HS is expecting some outburst from you, bracing himself in fact for the one time in the year when you can let unbridled emotion take over forced etiquette.  But you just don’t’ feel up for the dance.

The-Shawshank-Redemption-Parole-Letter

You collect your much-awaited letter, say, ‘Whatever. ..’ to HS and walk out. You do look at the letter afterwards.  You sit down with a calculator hoping the numbers will add up to something that justifies your earthly existence. They don’t, not in this economy. Logic is a stranger to hope. But the two have to catch up sometime. Sometime before you are too old to dream and too young to give up. Sometime before you have more yesterdays to look back upon then tomorrows to look forward to.

image

And if that time never comes it ain’t your fault. It never is. There is always a market slowdown, office politics or even Karma to blame it on. And if all else fails there is always plain old bad luck. But the loss is only yours.

– J.

Proof Of Existence

In Communication, Office humor, SlavesInc on April 8, 2013 at 12:34

Dear client, life is for living. Add life to the life of your customers by living up to…

You just can’t take any more of this drivel. But you have to. That is what employment is all about. Getting people to do the kind of things that no one would do unless he is paid for it.

Happy Donkey

If you were a beast of burden you could expect the numbness of repetition to help you as an anaesthetic. But unlike a quarry, a desk job can throw anything your way. The only constant is your compensation, for lack of a better word. Today, this anything is proof-reading. It has landed out of nowhere on your desk. And nowhere is precisely where you are getting with it.

Fellow slaves and Head slave himself reinforce the criticality of the task that has been assigned to you:

‘You know these documents are going to travel half way across the world?’

‘That thing is gonna go aaaaall the way to the top!’

‘It’s all up to you now champ.’

…and a couple of other salvos aimed at you do little to prepare you for the blitz ahead. Sure you can take one for the team. But the word one is oft abused, from ‘it will only take one minute’ to ‘just give me one more chance’.

i-dont-give-a-rats-ass

The onslaught on your senses is overwhelming. It is not only the grammar and syntax but also the who gives a rat’s ass attitude towards alignment and downright lack of imagination that gets to you:

‘…is now available in delicious international taste’

‘…so that you have a sleep at nighttime’

and

‘Say yes to life! Again and again.’

School Fail BACK-TO-SCHOOL-FAIL

You can’t be paid enough for this. If you had a dime for every time you have said that, you would have taken an early retirement. But unfortunately, dimes are not easy to come by. Only your monthly salary is. And it comes regardless of the amount of brain damage incurred. So it makes sense to get by with minimum cognitive impairment.

eats-shoots-and-leaves-front cover

Punctuation Repair Kit

 

 

 

It is a big step to take. You have to convince the purist inside you that is ok to let sub-standard work pass from your inbox as long as it is approvable. That the world won’t end if you lower your standards to the level of your remuneration. That pretty much no one might notice. That the only person you need to convince is yourself.

You take a deep breath, say your prayers, ask forgiveness of Dickens, your fifth grade English teacher and the Queen, you hit spell check and call it a day.

Jhonny Jhonny

Life is definitely for living. It is the means of livelihood that are a killer.

– 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.

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.

The-Big-Lebowski_KB_Jeff-Bridges_jelly-shoes.bmp

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.