Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where's your sense of humour...!

Heavy tension pervades our workplace nowadays. A project has started with the tightest deadline ever and it seems to be taking its toll on all of us. Suddenly we're transported back in time, to that suffocating school days when the terrorist PT Master stood over us, ruler in hand, thrashing not the knuckles or bones but at a part where it hurts most--ones self-esteem. That horror has revisted and everyone seems to be enjoying it.

Every evening is a torture where the project manager marches all the team members into a stuffy room and conducts a status meeting. Even the best effort is ridiculed, every minutes accountability is asked and there are long lectures on time-management, dedication, quality, work-ethics and company policy. The juice in the work is gone and what remains is a dry terror. We listen in awe as the manager barks on and on, making each one feel and realise ones own worthlessness.

When I stand listening to the never ending harangue, wondering what karmas did I do to deserve this, who comes to my rescue but my dear friend R.K.Narayan! I lift a scene out of 'The Bachelor of Arts'--and imagine the manager, a short, stout fellow standing in the middle of the room, only in his underpants. That ugly scar on his pot belly, how his teats bounce every 5 seconds, how he scratches himself like a sick dog, that super squeaky voice--what's there to be scared of this asshole? 'I'm going to hold this against each one of you, once this ends'--bark, bark--he's threatening with termination if we don't do as he wants us to. Now I imagine him in his full glory, in his birthday suit. Awww Yuck! Why does he attack and thrash his juniors? His wife's a bomb and he's so pathetic; that's the source of his self-hatred and inferiority complex! 'I was a school leader and I'm used to kicking people out'...Yeah, I just heard you fart, you jackass!

What's strikingly astonishing is the fear he evokes in everyone around here? What's everyone scared of? Loss of job? Loss of face? Fear of embarrassment? The primeval fear of annihilation is staring at every face here and it's to be seen to be believed. And secondly, the way he sways and influences everyone towards his ideals. There are only robots here, programmed to act, not aware human beings with self-respect. All nod to his tunes, the way the Nazis might've listened to the Fuhrer...where does he derive this destructive power? Does someone else whack him and so he takes it out on others? There, he farts again!

This is the worst period of my worklife. Maybe my best. These crushing forces have now shown me what's the prioritiy and what's fluffy! What's lacking, what's to be done, how to do it, where's the motivation--these are becoming clear. Whether I act on them and grow or pass through the ordeal and remain unchanged remains to be seen. But boy does it hurt, this change.
The proverb is totally true...'My ass is getting torn and becoming as wide as that door...!'


  1. Ahhh…Vishwa, your work situation reminds me of my years as an army officer, except then it was one “created” crisis following another.

    At the beginning of my military career, I once asked an old Sergeant-Major, “When do thing become normal?” He replied, “Lieutenant, sir, this is normal.”

    I hope that this crisis for you and your comrades does not become “normal” and that another proverb proves true: “This, too, shall pass.”

    Blessings, my friend!

  2. Fear is no way to get the best out of people. This manager is very poor at what he does. He probably reflects his own fear as well. You must ride the wave and not let it overpower you.

  3. Nick..While this is a funny and pathetic situation, it's also kind of educative--understanding how people behave under stress and what kind of shithole we are currently living in. It's a blessing because it's hastening certain things.'re right. In our heirarchy, every manager blasts his subordinates, who then takes it on his juniours. The last guy in this chain bears the most of the brunt because he has nobody under him to vent out his stress. And the bottom line is profit, success, psuedo-victory--not well-being or joyful work.
    A friend of mine retired in his early forties, after a very successful career in IT. When I asked him how he felt not to be working anymore, he said, 'I feel releived now.'