I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath.
“Ten, nine, eight, seven…”
“He is in a foul mood”, said Tarun, “Just listen to whatever he says and nod your head for the sake of ending the drama there itself.”
“So the imp did it again.”
“Not now Raghav, we will talk about it later, now go and meet the manager.”
“Yeah whatever”, I said and proceeded towards the cabin of the manager…
An MNC is no less than the battlefield. One wrong move and you are blown by a landmine. If it is your comrade who died, you talk and gossip about how wrong he was in his strategy, and if it is you, the others do the same! Everyone, in short loves to give their insights about how one could have saved himself from the blunder if he proceeded with caution. That’s a different thing that the so called caution never works the same in their case.
That’s how the story goes on in the barracks aka the cubicles of the corporate offices…
Before we proceed any further, allow me to introduce myself. I am Raghav Dubey, a Brahmin boy who spent his youth with an assurance from his elders that the only way to live a peaceful life is through education. So I lived the first 23 years of my life with my books, with a belief that they will give me all the tools to survive the remaining part of my life.
Since the day, I started working, I hear the silent laugh of my predecessors every time I was blamed for something I never did as if saying,” Welcome to our world son!”
In short, corporate world is insane. No one can understand why people behave in a certain way here. You study the theories of Adam Smith and Michael Porter thinking that you can change the whole system, only to realize that you are nothing more than a part of a giant Tetris like game-the moment you fit in, you disappear like everyone else!
Post my MBA, I joined a leading consultancy. For the next three months, I thought that God was kind. Later I came to know that it was the honeymoon period-the jargon for the initial time you spend in trainings and doing trivial jobs understanding the company’s history and vision, something which has got nothing to do with your capability to finish that spreadsheet. You are made to believe that you are talented enough to get two promotions in one cycle and if given a chance, you can even be the CEO for a day!
The honeymoon period brings with it never ending training sessions, petty projects and if you perform well enough there, they award you with a sipper, a keychain and a t-shirt bearing your employer’s name on it!
After the honeymoon period starts the post honeymoon blues. The spreadsheets never end on time and the timesheets never portray your capabilities.
The problem being a scholar during your college days is that you can never have a consensus with the senior when they have done something wrong for the sake of getting of getting good ratings. As a result, the egos clash and your performance ratings become average.
The senior will always have the tact to prove you wrong. His experience beats your knowledge every single time.
That is what the Imp-one of the assistant managers I worked with did and landed me up with a not so romantic date with my manager-the devil. That was his own way of getting the sweet revenge.
So here I was, standing in front of the devil, getting blamed for everything I never did and hearing kudos for the Imp because he was smart enough to take the credit for what I did.
I came back to my seat, mumbling expletives for the Imp-Devil duo. Another Assistant Manager Tarun who happened to be my schoolmate, consoled me and advised to be extra cautious from the smart Imp in future.
The strange fact about the corporate is that you lose your morals much before you try to gain respect.
I look at my family picture kept on my desk, my father smiling at me as if saying, “Now you know what all I have been through!”
The Imp was quite notorious for doing this with every of his subordinates. He came in as a simple graduate and was now heading, chiding and insulting all the fresh management trainees on a regular basis. He managed to instill fear amongst all the subordinates who
stayed with him for long and understood his shark like tactics. The Devil loved him for his ‘work ethic’ and his talent to bring in more business! He had a lifestyle worth being jealous of. He drove the same car as The Devil and had a better bank balance than all of his counterparts.
The best way to be safe in the abode of the Imp-Devil was to stay as good as non-existent and not really act too smart.
After my first altercation, I decided to stay calm. I understood that meddling with a grandmaster can result in something more than the pawn sacrifice. So I would pray every day to the almighty to save me from any sort of goof ups and at the same time asking him to give me a chance to make the Imp suffer.
Finally he listened to my prayers.
A client came up with the due diligence work and the Devil wanted me to take care of the whole project. For the uninitiated, it is a job where you do the whole investigation of the business the client wants to acquire in order to make sure that he is investing in the right place.
A whole project under my belt meant jealousy for the Imp. This infuriated him as it meant no possibilities of earning through inflated food bills and fake travel vouchers!
A lot of times Tarun told me that he would wander around my workstation whenever I was out for lunch or for some other reason. So I decided to lock it every single time I was away.
However, this act of the Imp gave me a plan to end his tyranny.
One fine day, I left my workstation without locking it and headed towards the washroom. However, I took a right instead of left.
I went straight to the security room where the guard was monitoring the security cameras. Telling him the whole scenario, I asked him to
start recording whatever happens from now on at my work desk. He zoomed the camera and guess what, the Imp was there! Since he too had a hard time dealing with the bickering bastard that the Imp was, he readily accepted to be a part of my plan.
Seeing my workstation open, he started doing something on it. I figured out that he was deleting all the reports of Due Diligence. I had a silent laugh this time!
“Sahib, watch out, he might land you in trouble again.”
“Not this time Vijay Bhai, not this time…”, I told him.
The next day, Devil was supposed to check the reports. The Imp, as usual was already in his cabin, for whatever flimsy reason.
I gave the Devil all my reports, well drafted and fully completed. The Imp was dumbstruck! I pretended not to look at him but he was anyhow confused.
“I want to show you something else sir”, I told Devil.
“What is it Raghav”, asked the Devil.
Then I called up the security guy-Vijay. He came inside the cabin with a half grin, exposing his katha stained teeth.
“Sahib, you might want to have a look at this”, said Vijay and handed a CD to The Devil.
Confused, he took the CD and played on his laptop. It had the video of the Imp trying to delete all my reports. The Imp was caught.
“I had the copy of reports in my USB stick. Had it not been so, all my hard work would have been wasted”, I told the Devil.
I have learnt my lessons from the past goof ups and had became extra cautious. Moreover, it helped to have a confidante like Tarun!
The Devil roared. The rest as happened was too clichéd to be mentioned. In short, the Imp was drowned in the Holy Water!
He was thrown out of the firm. He got no experience letter as a result of his act of shame!
“Raghav, you are a dedicated guy. Kudos”, said the Devil.
“Thank you sir.” , I said.
“I will ask the management to promote you. Maybe you can be an assistant manager.”
“That will be an honor sir.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Thank you sir”
“Err… thank you sir.”
“Good job, good job, good job……”
“Yay yay yay…..”
Then my cellphone rang.
“Raghav, wake up kid, what are you mumbling in your sleep? There is a phone call for you”, my mother said
“Mom”, I woke up perplexed.
It was a dream. Oh no, I was dreaming. It was not true.
All that time it was nothing more but-A Dream. Damn you Freud!
Reluctantly, I picked up the phone
The voice from the other side said, “Hello Mr. Raghav, are you looking for a job change?”
“Am I” , I mumbled, more to myself than to the job consultant.
I saw the family picture on my bedroom wall again. Father’s grin was looking wider than usual!