Friday, 6 June 2008

Nervous Bosses

Nervous and insecure bosses are dangerous. Not only do they try to infect you with their nervousness and insecurity, but when the chips are down or, to put it more delicately, when the shit hits the fan, you will find such bosses are often coated with Teflon: nothing sticks to them and suddenly you find yourself the guilty party with the brown stuff plastered all over you.

Gana was one such boss. A small, dapper man with snow-white hair and a sallow complexion, Gana could be charming when he wanted to, but most times took an unholy delight in making the lives of his subordinates miserable.

Gana’s brow is always furrowed in thought. He is forever calling everyone to his cabin for impromptu meetings and discussions. He smokes incessantly, ‘water-boarding’ his cigarette butts into a huge ashtray half filled with water. His glass-topped table is always full of important-looking files and papers. When he walks out of his cabin, he walks with fast, purposeful strides and has this anxious, anguished expression on his face as if the company’s future hangs on the momentous decisions he is about to make.

Six months into the new job, Gana calls me to his cabin. As usual, his table is piled high with files. He is sitting with a large sheet of paper and is drawing columns and rows with a ruler and a pencil, this being much before the advent of Lotus 1-2-3, Excel and their ilk, of course. My task apparently is to dig into each file and come up with some numbers which he enters faithfully into his spreadsheet. It is boring, repetitive work and not something a Sales Head should be really doing by himself. An hour into this monotony, I can take it no more and start fantasising about women.

I am brought back to earth by someone shouting my name. It is Gana.

“Customer Tejal. You have given me the wrong figures. HOW CAN WE HAVE NEGATIVE COMMISSION?” he screams.

I have no idea what he is talking about. But he has succeeded in making me hopelessly nervous.

“Err...maybe you entered in the wrong column, sir,” I point out helpfully which is a big mistake. Gana is now literally frothing at the mouth.

“SHOW ME...SHOW ME...” he shouts.

I reach out to point out the error and in the process, manage to overturn the entire contents of Gana’s ashtray on to the sheet. The ashtray apparently has not been emptied since the Chinese war of 1962, and a viscous, brownish fluid, smelling in equal parts of tobacco, vomit, and unwashed dishcloth spreads slowly but inexorably onto the beautifully-drawn rows and columns of Gana’s now almost-completed spreadsheet.

I watch in fascination.

Cut to Gana: I am sure the man is dying or at least, having a heart attack. His face has turned an unhealthy crimson. He is trying to shout, but what comes out is a strangled groan. He chokes, he gurgles, and then, with a hand quavering with anger and indignation, wordlessly commands me to get the hell out of his office, which I am extremely happy to do.

They had to keep him under sedation for the next few days.


A.K.Ravishankar said...

interesting ...

Vijay said...

Hilarious... come on confess.. you did that on purpose :-)

Is there a post sedation piece?

Chillpilgrim said...

Hahahahhohohoh.... I am enthralled to bits because every description that you've attempted there fits my boss to the Tee. I was there with you watching it happen... and took immense pleasure thinking about the consequences if I had done it to mine.... Hahahahohohoho.

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.