Saturday, February 25, 2017

Slice of Work #12 — 'Speak up': When Most Needed...

It was one of those late night conference calls, with some top leaders of the company on it. A delicate matter to discuss. Some months ago an engineer left the shores of India for Canada on a project. He had contracted encephalitis – brain fever, potentially fatal. The doctors gave up and recommended ‘hospice’ – a euphemism for allowing to meet his Maker, outside of the hospital. Huge bills besides efforts had not helped.

The call was for all of sixty minutes. Someone started and said that the case was a hopeless one and that the lad should be put out of his misery. Another said that his wife in India insisted on his shifting to India. This would need an air ambulance and that meant a special aircraft which would, apart from huge cost, had to land every five hours, per international rules. The call went off in the direction that the exorbitant cost and the low survival chance played in the favor of a ‘hospice’ resolution. The call was almost at its end. The decision almost taken.

On the call was a shy and a junior manager who was overwhelmed with the high ranking leaders on it. How could he speak? And he had been quiet all along but his inner voice egged him on. With two minutes to spare he hesitatingly started – ‘This boy would be alive had he not left the shores of India. We have more of such medical cases in India and there is a good chance that the doctors can cure him. Besides, he served the firm the best way he could. We have a responsibility to him. Leaders, let us bring the soldier home’. He was sweating, but he had said his piece. There was a huge silence. After what seemed like an eternity the leader said – ‘Folks, I agree. We carry a vicarious responsibility and the lad has served us well. Let us send the soldier home.’

Fast forward. After all the stoppages of the air ambulance enroute, a devoted wife, and after six months of hospitalization, Alok went back to work to a thunderous applause,. The manager who spoke up that day sported a smile. He had learnt his lesson, as did many on the call.

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