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Archive for the ‘SlavesInc’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

KRA

In Appraisal, Boss, nine to five, Office humor, SlavesInc on February 21, 2013 at 23:21

Whoever said fate is in our hands never had an appraisal. He never had the good fortune of knowing Head Slave either. It is almost a religious experience as the Maker’s hand randomly does and undoes your exploits of the past 12 months, 4 quarters and 3 seasons on a single A4 printout.

Creation of Adam

You stopped putting up a fight some five minutes ago. But HS seems especially spirited today. You don’t recall having ever had as much face time with him during your entire tenure.

The third time HS asks, you are moved out of your trance.

“What about this Kaizen project sport? I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Neither have you. In fact, the last you heard about it was in last year’s appraisal. You try desperately to remember what your answer was back then. It couldn’t have been anything convincing.

Since you are already two strikes down, you shoot out the following:

“You know boss, the Kaizen project was always on my radar. But looking at our priorities, I had to let it go. I knew it would mess up my KRAs, but it was the right thing to do for the company.”

A few moments of silence follows as HS looks at you with his glasses lowered. That was some inspired hooplah!

“Tell you what sport, we still have a week to go before closing the appraisals. Why don’t you do a quick pilot on Kaizen and we will discuss again?”

Dilbert Kaizen

Now you look at him with your glasses lowered. This is not exactly a SlavesInc. moment but you decide to go for it for the novelty of it.

The next week is spent looking high and low for anything that can pass off as Kaizen and more importantly, for something that can be rounded up in one working week. You settle for an area you know most about: attendance rolls.

Login sessions reveal that an average Slave spends three to five percent of his official time on checking, plotting and in general obsessing over his attendance records. This is more than the time expected to be allotted to real work including ‘generating new ideas’.

925

Being a clone of the system yourself, you know that correcting the names of the slaves on payroll can cut down much of this time. It would also mean fewer loop holes for clock-watching colleagues. But you can’t please them all.

Flintstones-fove-o-clock-whistle

fred_flintstone_clocking_out

Project in bag, it is now time for another appraisal session with HS. For once he likes what he sees:

“Nicely done sport. We are through for this year. What was that line you said…’the right thing to do for the company?’ – Brilliant! I used it myself with the man upstairs. Kaizen was part of my KRAs too you know…”

Ghost Rider Contract

HS walks out with a pat on your shoulder and a wink in his eye. He leaves you with a higher KRA score and fewer friends than you have ever had before. Whoever said we make our own destiny was never bound by KRAs.

– J.

Exodus

In Cubicle, Office humor, SlavesInc on January 15, 2013 at 03:45

One of the axioms of life that you learn very early is: there will always pop more mails in your inbox than you care to read. So you have to prioritize some, ignore others and delete most. The few mails that you read on priority include those sent by your utilitarian admin department. Their economizing worldview extends to their use of the English language too. It makes for entertaining reading and is rather refreshing in its approach towards slavery. There is no sugar coating here. Sugar is expensive.

This particular mail announces change in seating arrangements. No notice, no choice, just a declaration. Your new cubicular location is neatly highlighted in an excel attachment. A boxed existence as it is. Before you have time to let the gravity of this change sink in, the new occupants are already all about you, checking out the real estate they will be inheriting. If only they were this responsive to other e-mails. You suddenly feel like a broke tenant sitting on his eviction notice. The team that is to take your erstwhile place is touching and feeling everything including the chairs and the LAN cables. They only come short of feeling you up.

dilbert-cubicle

You realize you have to spring into action. You take a print out of your new jail cell and go about locating it. There is an air of a carnival with a potential for riot all around. Boxes are being overturned, trolleys are being mobilized, there are papers flying everywhere all in a mixture of excitement and anxiety. You know what this is. This is a mass migration. An Exodus. And if history is anything to go by, such displacements do not end well. Though this migration will happen in an air-conditioned environment with the average migrant being at least a high-school grad, crowds anywhere have the same personality, that of a crowd. And creatures everywhere are territorial, biped or otherwise.

Exodus MosesMass-Migration

You spot Head Slave standing by where your new rowing station seems to be. He is already swamped by a swarm of grieving migrants. You are too late. The losses are many and varied. A comfy chair, a raised partition, a wall facing your screen, a fleeting view of a rare window. Things that slaves took for granted till today, snatched away by the vagaries of company policy. Though in the modern open planar office, all work stations are the same, many external factors define the neighbor’s envy and the owner’s pride. Proximity to the pantry, the exits, the printer and distance from HS’ cabin, the washroom and the security camera decide the covetousness of a cubicle. Just like in real estate, it is all about location.

cubicles

Your new place is nothing special. It seems to have a little bit of all the undesirable factors. But you fail to voice your grievance to the boss. You call it your sense of decency; others would call it a lack of fighting spirit.

Life is going to be that much more difficult now. You feel like you are on the waiting list for a train that is never going to arrive. This too shall pass though. If you stay there long enough, you can get used to hell. You have to remember that: Salvation lies within.

Shawshank-Bible-Hammer-Exodus-Salvation-demotivational-posters

– J.

2012 in Omnishambles

In Blogging, Office humor, SlavesInc, true enlightenment, work life balance on December 31, 2012 at 21:31

If you were to make a flip book of yourself sitting at your desk through the seasons, you would get changing surroundings and decor against an unchanging expression on your face. Quarters, interns and festivals come and go. You and your desk endure. But don’t pat yourself on the back yet.

Seasons
Enduring is just the start of it. Each year brings with it a realization of the pedestrian nature of things and the Olympian effort needed to break free of it. It is like the beginning of a sequel where what you thought was the climax turns out to be just foreplay. And like all sequels, you don’t want to have one too many, lest it starts to stink.

superstorm       Vote Gangnam

Between Superstorms and superstyles, the world almost ended. At least it was fun to think for a while that it would. But the best we could get was Omnishambles.

DKR

2013 will hold similar promise for both the mundane and the magnificent. There will be rickety printers, pointless meetings and machine coffee to keep you busy. There will be Mondays, multi-tasking and motivation (sic) to keep you distracted. You will find humor in new places while some of the old stuff won’t even seem funny anymore.

Greatness v/s obscurity, Open skies v/s fluorescent lighting, Freedom to fail v/s Stress to succeed. You will feel like an ant that has to move a mountain, a twig that has to resist bending in a storm, a pawn too small to matter in a system too big to fail.

bankersThere will be times when you will miss the good old ignorance, the days of clueless pursuit and nights of dreamless sleep. Innocence lost is not a big price to pay. For life begins with awareness.

Master Oogway

 

2012 SlavesInc. Annual Report.

Here’s a patronizing excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

– J.

Time and Pressure

In Big Brother, Office humor, SlavesInc, Training on December 18, 2012 at 03:16

It is 10 pm. The belly is empty, the back limp and the mind is a mess. The stale air and the cheap biscuits have sapped your vitality. But Yoda is still going strong. To say that he was born to do this is an understatement. To ask why you were born is tempting depression.

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There is hope though. At this point, you will cling to even a whisper carried on a feather. It comes from Yoda himself. It is in the form of suggestions (surprise!).

‘It has been a long day. I suggest you head back to your rooms, take a nice hot shower. Enjoy the dinner and head for the beach. The waves look so calming under the moon. Then come back and get a solid night’s sleep. Wake up to a continental breakfast. One should breakfast like a king they say. Enjoy it at leisure and come back to the workshop at 9 am. Somewhere in the middle find a few minutes to get around to the assignment which is…’

It takes Y more than a couple of minutes just to tell you what the assignment is. And it takes more than a couple of moments for the joke to sink in. In this state of dashed hopes and compromised reflexes, you spend the next few hours burning the midnight bio fuel.

Somewhere over the past couple of decades, companies have come to believe that the only way slaves can learn is under high levels of stress, under a state of mental and physical agony, sort of like training mules with spurs. Only here, the mules get to take notes.

pavlov_conditioning_dogs

To make it interesting, Y has made a wager with teams competing for points and cash. It is your very own Big Brother experience. With each passing session, stress levels rise and civil conduct falls.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

It is 10 am. The belly is stuffed, the back stiff and the mind is staffed. During a particularly crisp morning session, a fellow slave and sufferer seems to be at the frayed ends. Let’s call him Mr. M. After several failed attempts at making a point, M seems so restless you start hoping he doesn’t have a gun under the table. By now, everyone except Y knows he is dying to share something with the group. At first you feel: ‘Another poser.’ Then you get mildly irritated by his cries for attention. But now, with his eyeballs almost popping out, you feel vaguely curious about this piece of information that he just cannot keep to himself. Yoda finally relents and invites M to share.

“SIR, PLEASE SIR…URGENT BIO BREAK SIRR!”

Yoda magnanimously waves him out. As fellow boot campers burst out laughing, M bursts out of the room. To save a few preciously painful seconds M undoes his fly on his jaunt out of the gas chamber. You can only hope he made it to the Promised Land well contained.

Super Pee

Time and pressure can move mountains. If the only thing time and pressure of slavery move for you is your hairline, you need to rethink your game plan.

–          J.

Sabbath-ical

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: yoursabbatical.com

YourSabbatical.com

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

And

  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.

Just a little whiter

In humor, Office humor, SlavesInc, work life balance on September 11, 2012 at 02:15

Your sleep is always the first one to go. You have given up TV a long time ago. And you wouldn’t know socializing if it hit you in the face. All that is left now is daily sanitation and bare essential communication with family. Not unless it is required.

And it will all pay off today. For today is ‘The Big Meeting’ also known as ‘Annual Game Plan’ or ‘The Hunger Games’ depending on your perspective. They don’t care if you have not eaten or slept or even bathed in days. But you had better be there; on time, prepared and in company colours.

So you yell at your wife or mother or laundry guy or whoever is unfortunate enough to be associated with you coz you have got to have your white shirt. And it has got to be whiter than the Joe sitting next to you in the meeting. Sure, it sounds like a stretch, a little extreme maybe. But it is the little things you know, that add up to hard work and make you eligible to be considered for progress.

Right?

No one gave you anything else to believe in. Having found yourself in this job with a poorly articulated urge of ‘doing something big’, you are going to give it all you have got.

On D-day, you seem to have everything covered, except the white shirt. Joe seems to be dressed whiter. Or maybe it is just the lights. For someone sitting at the opposite end of the table, your team of four seems ready to be in a Tide ad!

Your smile tries to defy the lines on your face borne out of sleepless nights. The tapping of your fingers tries to defy the slight restlessness that has built up in your system. Most other people at the table look similarly haggard. So no brownie points there. Hours fly by but you have not got a chance yet to share all the work you have done for the occasion. You become anxious and try to break into conversations. But the powers that be have more important things to discuss first then your little brand presentation.

And boy, do they discuss it or what? The sun has almost finished its journey across the sky and the discussion still seems young. You have given up and are now surfing wiki instead of making the nth touch-up on you master piece.

Then it ends, abruptly. HS just remembered another meeting he had scheduled. No brand presentation, no lime light, no nothing. You put in all the long yards and threw fits to get your white shirt and probably lost a few years of life expectancy over nothing. You and your team almost spontaneously take off the choke chains around your respective throats when the meeting ends. Doesn’t matter who is whiter now.

You could have worn a blue shirt and it would not have made a difference. Because this is a freaking Microcosm. It has its own rules and its own God. And it has its own little rewards and punishments. It has enough carrots dangling to keep you paddling till you die or retire, whichever comes first.

At least next time, you won’t trouble your laundry boy.

–          J.