Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Work ex?!

Disclaimer: This piece of literature has no resemblance to any person living or dead. Nor does it indicate any company/organization/place. Most of the views and emotions expressed are mine. But not all.

"Today is not going to end". That is what I thought when I hurriedly brought out my phone and muted the taunting alarm. It was 6:00pm - that time of the day when you know you should be igniting the engine of your car for home - unfortunately, it is also that time of the day when you are pretty sure the engine can't be started for (at least) another two hours. Anyway, through the layers of tension, I was not able to recollect why I had set a reminder. Ahh! It was my best friend's twenty first birthday celebration (In life, if you have enjoyed friends' presence and lovely gifts on your birthday, you are indebted to return the enthusiasm) .....Yes. That is what friendship looks like at 6:00 pm when you have daunting number of incomplete tasks on the to-do list, three presentations waiting to be made and an authoritarian of a %^&* on (not just) your head (but also your nerves!)

I was definitely going to miss the party, not only was it an hour's drive from office, but I also had no time to buy her a gift. So I decided to forget even the slightest temptation of having a relaxed evening (being very smart here: In life, there is no room for an empty headed and an empty handed person. People generally have either, seldom both)

Bringing my thoughts back to (what was unfortunately) my current reality, I started concentrating on one of the most looked-forward-to projects of all time. My $%^& was reciting the expense vs. profit numbers with the same interest with which my brother recites India vs Pakistan scores. (and today- for my luck, Pakistan was winning!) (In life, there is never more tension, curiosity and pressure as there is when Pakistan is winning)

Talking about my %^&*, in my view he is one of the most learned factory managers THE company has had. He knows what exactly is wrong, in which exact location-to what exact extent- with the beast-like machines from the mere sound of their roar! He is capable of dismantling and reassembling any equipment without even thinking of taking a peek at its manual or machine drawing. He commands the respect of an army general. And he has shaped his team to fight every war that comes their way!

I had joined this army as a trainee (read mere trainee - smallest, tiny-est, and most immaterial part - a trainee) seven months ago. Now when I think of it, I feel I got through the selection procedure only because the general hadn't had to time to interview me. (In life, we always reassure ourselves that everything happens for the best. Well, at most times it does ...and at other times- you get selected to be a part of the army)

I had very little exposure of the corporate world. I was trying my best to learn more and more, just like any hungry fresher at his first job. I wanted to interact with people. I wanted to know how they thought. I wanted to see for myself, how success stories are made. I wanted to know the pasts of all those at the top - what got them there.. and more importantly - what kept them there. I was excited and immature. And as we have all heard sometime - in Hindi movies - or in fiction books - the corporate world has no place excited idiots. We have to join the rat race from day one. Even if you don't know how to, start running. (In the world, if you want to survive, you learn as you run). Doing as the world did, I tied my laces and buckled my shoes and before I knew, I was running. There were many in this race, some were faster and most were slow - to me it din't look like they couldn't run- it looked more like they were giving up. That is when I thanked God- I was fresh, healthy and fast. I also saw many who were concentrating more on building personal relationships rather than on the race. I wondered how that was keeping them going. (In the world, "pull" is as important (if not more) as merit) I was happy. The adrenaline rush was helping my momentum. I wanted to run farther, I wanted to see more. However, I forgot one small thing (apparently it didn’t matter)... What were we running towards??

The expense vs profit calculation was still happening. My ^&*% took note of my drifting mind and (almost tauntingly) offered me a coffee. Ahh! Coffee. One of man's most liberating discoveries. I wanted to take my mind off those big numbers.. stretch my arms and shake the laziness off myself. I wished I could enjoy my coffee in solitude, sitting on a small bench, embraced by nature's beauty....... Wake up! Bench in a garden?! Too far! I felt closer to the corporate bench! The coffee was over and so was my dream. My %^&* now shouting. I had missed the issue but it was not a big deal. I would find out anyway. His ears were turning redder by the minute and I think in that moment we would have preferred being in the boiler a few yards away than in this much dreaded 8*8 cabin!

It took me a while to return from my nature's trip. The issue being discussed had nothing to do with my project (Thank God again). Apparently a $ lakh worth spare part had been mishandled and thus, broken. I wondered how many years I would have to work as the smallest part of the company to be able to afford that spare. Scary! (In life, there is nothing as de-motivating as lower wage for higher contribution. It refutes the age old barter system in more ways than one)

I had some free minutes while my $%^& was addressing the issue and so I opened my (oh-so-scary) to-do list. It looked more like a bucket list to me - I knew I'd be dead by the time I try completing the tasks listed. If it took India over 40 years to attain freedom, this list would (obviously) take longer (not that it guaranteed me freedom anyway!) Hmm.. the presentations.. (vo toh delegate kar dungi.) The problem with delegation is that you become responsible for another person’s performance. You can never really tell if he will do a good job. (nahi nahi...I'll do it myself) (In life, a known devil is better than an unknown angel).

And the internal audit. ..No. They require me to "investigate", not audit. Now that is something I've always been good at. Classmates at school used to call me the "complaint-box". I always had something to fuss about. I had the capability of finding faults even in the best things. Haha. I feel like sticking my tongue out to all of them. I am being paid (by the biggest brand in the world) for what you'll teased me about. (Sounds cool and nasty ;)) Wow. I felt like the pyro-phosphates were transferring their latent energy to the adenosine di-phosphates. Only thinking of what I had become today-from what I was before, made me feel energetic all of a sudden. (In life, we try to find motivation from others' achievements, but the most motivating stories are those that WE have created. All of us have stories to tell. We just have to look at ourselves as winners. As I have believed throughout: It is all in the mind. )

Hmm.. If I finish with the investigation-audit in an hour’s time and leave the presentations for home, I could leave in an hour and a half! Leaving office before 8:00 pm was everyone’s unfulfilled dream. The thought of my being the lucky one bragging about having left early the previous day, made me look forward to tomorrow even more! My $%^& was still fuming. No other issue seemed to be equally taxing today! (In life, a problem is BIG only till another BIGGER problem arises) Luckily for the project team, $%^& was not going to be free for another hour. Very confused, he asked us "if we could discuss the project tomorrow".. Now do I need to answer that?! Sure!! I quickly drew out my cap (to be worn in the bottling halls as a Quality requirement) and started auditing one of the manufacturing lines. Working on the shop floor is an out-of-the-world experience. Shall write about it sometime. For now, my day was done. Hopefully, I'll be able to rush to the other end of the town, just in time for the cake cutting! :)