Sunday, May 24, 2015

Slice of Life #5 — Falling in Line

It was one of those crazy Monday mornings at the airport. Almost all of the city had converged to take the flight that day, or so it seemed.

These days you have to have to stand in queue with one hand carrying a tray for you to deposit the laptop, your jacket, mobile, etc., and the other is the stroller bag. And to secure one of those trays for these kinds of flight is like getting a big fat lottery. Sometimes, I think someone is going to make some great suggestion as to how we should have a seamless way to deposit our luggage for airport scrutiny.

I was in one of those long queues and I almost made it to the tray lot when a big, wide-bodied, chiseled, tall man walked in front of me and took a tray. Clearly he had jumped the queue. I was touched to the quick and of course, did not want to raise my voice and was going to make a meek sound of protest. Except, my inner voice was a lot louder and I heard myself speak in a firm and polite way: “Excuse me, gentleman. There is a queue here. Would you mind joining it please?” And looked at him and smiled. My fellow queue guys looked at me in horror. The hulk looked at me for a moment, and gave up and meekly said, “Oh, I did not know that.” A lie that I gladly glossed over, and proceeded with my deposits into the scanner. Chose not to make eye contact, I murmured a “thank you.”

Of course, then you join the queue for the physical check. And that took a while, and I reached the other side to wait for my bags to get through the scanner. And I espied the queue on the other side and saw the hulk near the trays. Just then, another gentleman sneaked in and took a tray and stood ahead of the hulk. This was interesting. The hulk politely said to him, “Excuse me sir, there is a queue here, do you mind?”

Just then the heavens smiled, as did I, for this whole business of ‘falling in line’ was falling in line! Just sometimes, you have to speak up and stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of consequences. For that is important. It is!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Slice of Work #3 — How to Become a GM!

He was a diminutive chap. A quiet man, whom I will call NR. He had been a secretary to a General Manager of a well-known trading company. He looked ordinary but had a constant smile on him. He was going to be interviewed by SK, a VP of an MNC who wanted a steno typist. At a preliminary interview, a helpful HR person suggested to SK that he need not waste his time as he was not a good MNC fit. SK however waved him away and asked to meet NR.

At first sight, he thought he was indeed a wrong fit. The man sported a broad checked shirt and a light green trouser.No power dressing, this. SK, swallowed his prejudice, offered a seat, and asked about his education. "B.Sc., Physics," said NR. This was interesting, a Physics major was doing the job of a steno-typist! 86% aggregate, he gently added. Now, SK was curious. Sitting in front of him was a man who had a strong academic record but was doing a job of a steno typist. He was acutely aware that he himself had not got those marks in college.

Upon gentle persuasion, NR spoke of his need to take up a typist job to support his family. And after 18 years of working through the system, had moved to be the secretary to the GM. SK forgot all of his prejudice of an MNC look. He asked him some more questions and was convinced of his versatility. It was a sad quirk of fate that NR could not pursue his studies. Here was an outstanding man whose time had come, thought SK.

“You will work with me for only 18 months, and I would like to see you move on,” he said. It was the turn of NR to be surprised. SK added that he wanted NR to grow in the organization and that he would be perpetrating a fault if he insisted on his being his assistant. “You will take on other roles in my function,” he added. NR smiled, moist of eyes. Here was a man who wanted him to grow in the organization!

Everyone loved him. NR was ever present, always ready to help and had earned the tag of reliability about him. SK moved him after 18 months and had him take other roles. NR grew rapidly. He dazzled everyone with his diligence, rigor and focus. His presentations were a treat. Years later, NR went to SK’s house and pressed an envelope into his hand and said that he had an external opportunity and wanted his advice. It was a job offer from a reputed company and for the post of a GM-Operations. SK re read the designation ! What a distance NR had covered! It was the turn of SK to reach for his kerchief.

A secretary to a GM was now a General Manager! A warm hug and some coffee later, SK asked him to move on. There are many in the world who all but need an opportunity and in the ability of ordinary steno typist with a checked shirt and green trouser.