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Late Shift Blues

In Artist, freelancing, Office humor, Organisation, SlavesInc, vitamin d deficiency, Wage Slaves, work life balance, work stress on June 8, 2017 at 20:13
‘You again?’ he said. You could have said the exact same thing but you stick to the more traditional, ‘Hi.’
This must be the seventh time you have ran into the man on the last train home. You vaguely remember him in the audience at one of your dos. You don’t recall ever asking his name and it has not hampered your acquaintance for lack of a better word.
Train Kandivali
You fill him in on all that has been happening in your little version of rebellion. He listens with amusement but that is about it. Then you ask him about his…work. Not that there is much excitement he can share about the ERP offshoring project that is gainfully employing him. Then you try silence for a while and it catches on. Till it’s time for you to say goodbye at your destination. The empty rake takes the man home only to repeat the cycle again tomorrow. He didn’t seem sad but he didn’t look hopeful either. A version of you in a parallel universe. It was a rather Fight Club moment, like meeting your spirit animal.
There is something about late night shifts that brings about contemplation even in the most wound up of automatons. May be it is the moonlight, the relative coolness or just the silence. The sweepers on the platform, the rickshaw drivers waiting for a last ride home or just an excuse to call it a day and you on your post-gig high seem to share an unspoken camaraderie, a loose brotherhood of odd-jobers. Going through the motions of their respective mime acts. Like you were in a video for a blues song together.
New York Workers

PhotoShop always was a latent need of the market.

Some days you see your ex-colleagues on the other side of the tracks, on the right side of market sentiment and the wrong side of traffic. Their belts struggling to contain their impending cardiac episodes and the compartment barely containing the class struggle. As you wave at them from your empty compartment going upstream, the success is almost cinematic in contrast. But it’s not the end, it never is. There is always a higher plane to abdicate to. And unfortunately life is a series of sequels no one asked for.
Rat Race.jpg
Man is a creature of habit. All creatures are. Meaning can always be retrofitted. From training troops to telecallers, most mission calls are euphemisms at best. Lies we decide to believe collectively to make life bearable. One should always be weary of replacing one drudgery with another.
Slice of Life Dexter
Small talk about traffic, weather and elections is just static filling the emptiness of your years. You can choose to wake up or sleepwalk through the rest of your life, no one will notice either way. But at least pick the shift that feels most defiant.
– Punit Pania

Hot, Flat and Shrouded

In global warming, Interpersonal, Wage Slaves, work stress on May 3, 2017 at 06:00
There are 8.5 billion of us crawling the planet and sucking it dry. Each one of us brought up to think he/she/it is unique and has a destiny drafted and approved by the executive editor upstairs. It’s a miracle we haven’t killed each other to extinction yet. And this miracle is called money.
 Going Going Gone
Money is the pursuit of violence by other means. The largest and longest running simulation in the history of the world. It keeps us occupied to the point of obsession and blindness. The few who master the game; 1% to be precise, watch us gladiators from the perch of their fiscal leverage.
 Money counting
Blood sports are wasteful and short-lived. Institutionalized competition is the stuff GDPs are built on. The modern economy is a well-oiled noise-free machine with the unfortunate side-effect of carbon emissions. Largely civilized, channeling all the collateral damage into the slowly maturing mutual fund of global warming instead. Private Profit – Planetary debt.
Polar 1
Between 16° and 28° lies the cold war between two rival camps of office employees with widely differing body chemistry, political leanings and thermodynamics. There are the tropical Eskimos who travel through melting heat and enter the office is a sweater and muffler. Who shudder at anything below the ambient temperature of 24°. Who are convinced they were born in the wrong hemisphere. And there is you and your neighbor Sameer who enter the office looking like chimps with your arms hanging out with the discomfort of the sweaty crescents under your arms. You do not believe you were born in the wrong hemisphere because we are all going to die anyway. But the Eskimos regard you as Vulcans. You are not sure if calling someone an Eskimo is considered racist in today’s world. But they don’t have internet so they can’t outrage. And they might also be leading happier lives. But to ensure your rant ages well, you call them just Moes instead.
 Cold giphy.gif
More than the numbers, the Moes also have a moral lead on your camp. It seems feeling cold draws more sympathy​ than sweating like a pig. Cheif Guests are often awarded shawls because intellectuals feel more cold than proles and they don’t even tire of shuddering at the ills of society. In winters animals hibernate in a Zen-like state. But an animal in heat only produces more animals.
You have employed all techniques from rationing AC usage to stealthily using the AC remote only coming short of bribing the office boy. But the Moes’ ring leader trumps all your efforts. Samantha has always looked frail, now with her summer shawl collection, she looks like a hermit on chemo. And when she tries to balance herself on a chair to guide the flaps of the AC away from her cubicle with the aid of a foot ruler, she gets enough sympathy to last her a week. It seems her doctor has prescribed that the blast of the AC should be at an angle of exactly 176° away from her head.
Each summer is only going to be more biting but Moes’ bodies refuse to adapt to their God-given latitudes. It seems the Vulcans are going to have to retreat. Until one fateful day, the thought of buying yourself out of this predicament occurs to you. A thought so noble in its simplicity you are almost ashamed it didn’t occur to you earlier. Sameer’s girlfriend calls you one day proving that a. She exists and b. You still have the capacity of being a friend. She asks for suggestions for Sameer’s birthday present. And the words ‘USB Fan’ just drop out of the ozone-depleted sky into your lap.
 LED-USB-Fan-Clock
The Vulcans and the Moes’ co-existed in an armistice after that proving once again that the only answer to consumption is more consumption…till there is no ground left to stand on. Then we can all go medieval. It would be the perfect ending.
– Punit Pania

Freelance Warrior

In Big Brother, Blogging, SlavesInc, Technology, Wage Slaves, work life balance on January 2, 2017 at 18:45
It is easy to fall into the ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’ wordplay. But one man’s knight is another man’s mercenary.
In a post-modern WiFi inundated world, knights are often slouched behind desks following up on their pizza home delivery. Nature is inherently violent and only the fittest survive. But what is fit is changing and physical violence is now translated into the language of money and economics.
Image result for american psycho gif
Most of us visualize life as this long epic battle for which we are fighting, suffering and sacrificing everyday so that day one day we will reach Graceland. The Big Payoff, the Big Promotion, the Big Offshore posting – which may or may not come and if it does it may or may not seem worth the life force spent in chasing it. One would think it would be hard to sell this world view. But it’s not because the scriptures themselves prescribe daily drudgery in lieu of otherworldly salvation. And we have all bought into Jehovah’s stock-options that will not mature in this space-time continuum.
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The ads selling you fizzy drinks and fitness bands, your employer’s mission and vision statements and the condolences you offer yourself every night before setting the alarm again – all adding to a loosely bound narrative that keeps you in a trance you call a life.
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You do a have choice though, increasingly so. A choice of sitting it out, hitting the eject button on the rat race, watching the circus from the sidelines. Live a little bit of Graceland everyday, happiness in small daily installments. Mutual funds are always subject to market risks but Ponzi schemes are only subject to your ignorance.
Freelancer, rebel, outcast or just social slacker, at least you have the freedom to own your mistakes. That’s better than being an extra in someone else’s Forbes dream.
– Punit Pania

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme in the World

In Big Brother, Christmas, HR, humor, Motivation, Wage Slaves on December 24, 2016 at 08:39
Nietzsche proclaimed ‘God is dead’ in 1882. But HR is keeping Him alive for KRA purposes.
From Rangoli competitions to Secret Santa, no festival, tradition or tribal mating ritual will be left behind. Selfies will be clicked, forms will be ticked and camaraderie will be faked.
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All in the name of that modern and universal measure of human relations – engagement. Engagement is just the kind of cashless-paperless-soulless term corporations like to employ to make complicated responsibilities seem manageable.
If only 4 AM philosophising could get you far in life, you wouldn’t have to wonder what to get Rozy for her last Christmas in the galleys before she begins her long but terminal affair with pension. What could you get her that she has not seen in three decades of salaried existence and nearly six decades of attracting gravity in general? Where does being a compliant slave stop and being a nice person in general begin? Is Jizas watching us all the time? Doesn’t he take a day off? Not even on his birthday? Does anyone give a flying Rudolph about any of it?
Not really. Not when you consider that the primary purpose of any system is its own perpetuity, be it the Anglican Church or Acme Corp. And the whole thing started as an ad campaign anyway. The whole Santa thing, not Church. And it only took you three Wikipedia pages to come to that conclusion.
So you decide to gift Rozy a frame. She can put her granddaughter’s drawings in it, her own photos or just leave it empty and call it art. Of course, you had to assume that she has a granddaughter…who likes to draw. But you’ve already alloted more brainwaves to this act of corporate Karma that it merits.
Secret Santa must be the biggest Ponzi scheme in the world. And the house always wins. The best you can do is engage, keep your head down and quit while you are ahead.
– Punit Pania

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.

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.

Upgrade

In Technology, Wage Slaves on October 8, 2012 at 04:04

You know how you have given it a run too many and it just doesn’t feel like before? You know how you know its past its prime but what’s one more time for old time’s sake, right? You know how you know when there is nothing left in the tank, not even for one more run?

Off course you do.

The question that keeps me up nights is, does the horse know?

Does he know that there is nothing else left to do but to de-commission him?

Since you are a mere wage slave, your story is not as heart-wrenching, certainly not enough to be made into a mainstream biopic.

But it does sadden you to finally put your old-world CDMA handset to rest. That’s right kids; CDMA is what your grandparents used to use to communicate with each other, kind of like a string phone, slightly better. You can almost hear employees at the service provider’s office giving each other hi-fis now that one the last remaining subscribers has ceased to subscribe. What were they thinking giving out life-time offers? You feel like the only surviving member of a war veteran’s club or a ham-radio enthusiast who finally realizes no one is ever going to talk back.

Not that you didn’t try, you really did. You faced ridicule from one and all, including haggard vendors, kids in your neighborhood and the security guard. You braved radiation fears even when it felt like your ear was being deep fried over a thirty minute conference call. You learnt to ignore the industrial grade vibration mode. Having dropped it one time too many, you will have to be content keeping your handy handset at home as a relic.

Not that you were not prepared for this day. You have already bought a fruity replacement for your war horse years ago. But it has never seen the light of day. You just carry it in your bag every day and never use it. That’s kind of twisted, a bit of Hitchcock in it.

Finally you will graduate to the twenty-first century. Say hello to sleepless nights and pointless status messages. You too, will become a part of the fruity club and try to look happy to be called a ‘Berry Boy’ in your mid-thirties. And as far as Berries go, yours is already a couple of ‘generations’ old.  So you will never catch up, such a shame.

Not that you are particularly a laggard or (gasp) old-fashioned. You don’t have an active msn account and you don’t wear glasses with rims. Not everything needs an upgrade but not everyone appreciates this. And you don’t expect them too either. If an upgrade is a proxy to moving up in life, you have very low standards.

–          J.

Cost Cutting

In Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 5, 2012 at 02:19

Half an hour into an ordinary Wednesday morning, something feels different. You look around and fellow slaves are typing away, scratching their heads, staring at their screens…the usual.

But it looks different. It is the lights, they are not on, not one. You inquire.

‘Don’t switch it on,’ beckons a colleague with the seriousness of a method artist.

‘Why?’

‘We are cutting costs. Haven’t you read the mail?’

‘You mean the notice?’

‘Yes’

‘I am sure there are better ways than…’

‘At this salary, I can’t think of any better ideas.’

And he goes back to his desk, dimly lit by his monitor. He does have a point. There is no way of unleashing Austerity without hitting morale. Try as you may, you go through the day with the most pedestrian of thoughts/ideas:

In the loo, you are surprised to find the soap dispenser still functional

At the pantry, you are surprised to find the same brand of biscuits still available.

And the coffee tastes just as bad as yesterday.

You check your self and keep the ‘penny-wise-pond-stupidness’ out of your scrooging brain.  But from meeting room to canteen, there is an outpouring of the choicest ideas:

>  Scribbling numbers on one’s palms instead of taking printouts

>  ACs on only in alternate cubicles

>  Washroom lights to be flicked on only when in use

>  No tissues, handkerchiefs to be made compulsory

>  Lower insurance for smokers

>  Only Economy flight tickets, better yet, travel by trains

>  No Stapling, U-pins to be re-used

>  Coupons for tea/coffee…

…‘That might lead to hoarding and a black market for coupons,’ I offer. The brain stormers stare at me for a couple of seconds and go back to their ideating without even a chuckle.

What could have brought about such seriousness? You go back to your inbox to read the notice again. It seems there is a prize for the ‘Best suggestions on Belt-tightening’.

Ingenious. You remember something about HS flying to a ‘Belt-tightening’ conference just last week. Needless to say, he travelled business class. All you can do is smile at the miniscule-ness of your fiscal apprehensions.

By the time you round up your day’s labour, the would-be cost-cutters have left. Their systems are still on, blinking. You take the effort to bend down and switch off their workstations. By stepping on the backs of thousand poor men does one rich person emerge! But poor men don’t have to be against conservation.

–          J.

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.

Exit Strategy

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy, Hopsquatch, Office humor, Resignation, Wage Slaves on April 16, 2012 at 23:21

You have always felt there are two cuckoos in your nest, if not more. One is the forceful voice you hear in your head and the other is the whimper that comes out of your mouth. They seem to co-exist uneventfully if not peacefully.

It has been growing inside you for months, prodding, teasing and pontificating. But you can’t…just do it. It’s not like ripping off a bandage now is it?  So you build a strategy, an exit strategy. It’s about time you applied some of your business acumen to your personal business.

Off course, you can’t just stand up and leave. That only happens in movies and sitcoms. In all your years as a paddler, you have never seen anyone stand up and yell, ‘I quit!’ Maybe you are not working in the right kind of office. Where is the drama?

Profound tragedies and arid humor do occur in your galley but at a subtle level. Oddly enough, Head Slave always seems friendlier when you have rebellion on your mind.

‘What are you thinking?’ says HS in the middle of an impromptu meeting.

‘I…was just trying to…get my head around how we are going to do this…thing,’ is your elegant reply.

‘We sure need to do a lot of thinking. We should get the server in-house next year. I want you to start working on it.’

‘Like I am gonna be here next year,’ is what you want to say. ‘…Oh..kay,’ is what you actually say with a crumpled smile.

‘Keep working this hard and we may give you an extra screen…and an assistant!’

‘That sounds…very…generous…,’ you stop short of saying thank you.

‘I want you to really sink into this thing. If you face any problems, you come straight to me. As this team gets bigger, we want good people to be in-charge.’

By good, he means government mules and by in-charge, he means fall guy. You have always been confused between a negative and a realistic take on things. When you are non-committal, the self-perpetuating nature of things is clearer than ever…from dictatorships to corporations to relationships.

You want to think this through but you don’t want to go Dubya on your exit strategy. Sure the world is full of opportunities. But what about the Greener Grass theory? Sure you could do better than HS? But what about the Known Devil theory? And what about all the time and energy you have invested in your current liaison/contract? What if he finds out you are straying? Sound familiar?

Between lost weekends and stretch working, HS seems to have talked more to you over the past one year than his wife and kids combined! That is a scary thought. You can’t keep this hollow relationship going for long. At some point, you have to tell him: ‘I am seeing other people!’

A very wise but evil boss told you once that no one leaves overnight, mentally; you have left six months ago. It has been about that long now.

J.