Thursday, 15 October 2015

Letters of a Corporate Slave

Dear Sir/Madam,

I, XYZ, am a highly frustrated employee in your esteemed organisation, one of the overworked worker drones powering your beehive. You probably remember my name, but then again, you might not. I do not blame you for that; indeed, I have a face that is so common that I forget my own features sometimes despite looking at them every morning. That is the curse of all middle level employees like me – we are remembered for being remarkably unmemorable. No one, not one person, from our schools to our colleges to our workplaces to our family ever remembers us nameless, faceless individuals. The only way we are ever remembered is in the following manner, “Who was that guy? The one who used to always have his face buried in books? That one, who used to sit in the corner seat by himself, the one with the specs? No, not Sanjiv! His name started with a C. Charan? No, but close. Chandan, that’s it! Whatever happened to him? I heard he died or got married or something similar.” No one bothers to turn around to look at the speaker who had supplied his own name, and who is too embarrassed to tell the assembled gathering that he is sitting right next to them. He – I – does not mean to scare them with a sudden Christ-like revival; the world is beyond any messiahs now anyway.

My young son calls me ‘uncle’ every time I meet him, which is rarely. Doctors have attributed this behaviour to the lack of familiarity I share with my son. My brother, his real uncle, blames it on my habit of coming home in shifts from work, which owes a lot to the wonderful work pressure your organisation puts me under. If such a pressure as faced daily by your organisation had been manifested in a human digestive system, we would probably have witnessed the first spontaneous explosion of a human being. However, being the gargantuan colossus that your reputed company is, it somehow manages to endure the discomfort and keeps on working.

My one year old daughter either stares at me whenever she sees me, being the stranger that I am to her, or starts crying. I don’t blame her though; I have offered so many of my weekends in humble sacrifice to your clients that any thought of a day off makes me want to take a sick leave from home to attend office. Needless to say, any ideas of a vacation never ever cross my mind for two reasons; one, you won’t give them to me, and two, I don’t need them anyway. I have wholeheartedly imbibed and adapted your organisation’s motto of ‘a day without work is a day wasted’ in my own day-to-day life, and if I in any case end up working on my laptop, worrying about the internet connectivity in some remote holiday location, I would rather save on the expense and come to the office.

It is a wonder my wife has not mistakenly slept with someone else. But then again, the only reason she probably is still sleeping with me is because she thinks I am not her husband. She never seeks to question where her ‘real’ husband is, though, which I think is rather in my favour as it saves me from unnecessary explanation. Since she too, like me, is a corporate slave, I think she has achieved the same state of indifference that I have. We strive hard and work harder, though what for we know not and care even less.

My parents have forgotten my face, and I theirs. Someone recently told me that they had recently celebrated my first death anniversary. I would have gone for the free lunch, but between seeing one’s parents and attending office it was rather a Hobson’s Choice, and I think I ate a few stinker emails from you that day that more than made up for the food.  I had a picture of them in my wallet, but while changing wallets I forgot that my wallet is not as seamlessly connected to my office Google Drive as my laptop. I do not rue the loss, though, for all the important documents I need to keep me up all night are all safely accessible anytime, anywhere through this revolutionary feature. Thank you Google, for the dark circles under my eyes and my rapidly deteriorating eyesight.

I have missed out on how much I love your clients, sir/madam. Indeed, I should call them our clients, for that indicates how I have dedicated myself body and soul to their requirements. Much as you have, I sometimes suspect. I love how the clients call and stalk me like a paranoid ex. A braver, more courageous person would have blocked their numbers and filed a police complaint against their harassment. But not me; I talk to them like they were a childhood sweetheart, I bear their tantrums like a patient parent, I dismiss their nasty, obnoxious behaviour as misguided love. I love how they give short briefs and expect me to fashion a full-sized trouser out of it, of how they are so conveniently ignorant of the good work I have done when they need to blast me for having a fight with their wives or bosses or both in the morning. It was my fault, of course, for I forgot a key tenet – the client takes precedence over everything; I should have been sleeping with their wives instead of my own. I do fervently apologise for this hideous oversight and will try my best to correct this ASAP.

And while talking about everything, how could I miss the subtle office dynamics that are such an attractive proposition of your organisation? Some people might call it politics, but I would rather not sully the good name of politics. Indian political system is doing a good enough job of being bad without any ideals to aspire to. And trust me, dear proprietor, when I say that your organisation is the Indian Idol of all wannabe political landscapes. Where else can you find a person who does little to no tangible work rising high on the corporate ladder, while those of us who slog their asses and sometimes even their donkeys off get so little by the way of appraisals or promotions? Before one of my esteemed competitors takes it in his or her mind to whisper in your ear that I am spreading insinuations about your office pet, good sir/madam, let me clarify that I did say tangible work. No doubt, licking your feet every five minutes and acting like the boss of the company to the rest of us at every opportunity comes under the intangible aspect of work, which is every bit as important, if not more. At my last appraisal you had denied me a promotion saying that while my honesty was appreciated, I sometimes lacked tact. Witness, then, my metamorphosis, as I learn to act the tact so convincingly that I recently talked myself out of breaking my own jaw. I now believe I am ready for another appraisal.

Sir/madam, I deal with so many mails and no females every day that I am beginning to feel like a postman. I had once been told that my great-grandfather aspired to be a Postmaster, and it gladdens my heart to be fulfilling his desire in spirit, if not in name.

All this work has also enriched my vocabulary beyond measure. I recently used ubiquitous while scolding my five year old son and seamlessly leveraged the word secure at least eleven times while berating the watchman. I complimented the maid for her innovative, technology-driven excuses for missing work – she claimed she contracted a fever from her sister via telephone – while redirecting her to the swiftest and the most convenient means of redressing grievances in my household – my wife. Her anger is a thing to behold, and by now even the rats and the cockroaches give her a wide berth when she is in one of her moods.

However, sir/madam, despite all these fine benefits and perks that come with working for your highly reputed organisation, I must admit there is something that does bug me at times. No, sir/madam, these are not the bed bugs at my home, for as I earlier pointed out I rarely am at my home these days. I am mostly found at my workstation, which has become a comfortable cocoon for me, so comfortable that even the chair has started to mould itself around my ample girth. This hints at a symbiotic relationship far more intrinsic than any bonds of blood or love, for no one in my whole family makes for such snug a fit. No, what bugs me is this – a nose itch. From the inside.

I know that it might seem arbitrary to you, but I have my reasons. Just when you think you've achieved the perfect work-life balance, that of holding a phone to your ear with one hand and a mug of coffee in the other whilst simultaneously clasping that laptop close to your chest, an itch inside your nose is the worst thing that you can go through. Your brain goes into a tizzy, your senses scramble like the eggs I used to make for my wife when we were younger (and probably happier, although I can't really be sure). The world stops, and everything else - the clients, the work pressure, the job progression, that promotion, that important phone call that you're on, that car hurtling towards you at 80 km/hr from the wrong side - no longer seems to matter. Nothing else seems to exist, but my nose, the itch inside it, and a vicious, cruel urge to put my finger inside my nose and scratch. This might be what the protagonists of our romantic movies must feel like, although I heard no violins in the background. In hindsight, I think the siren of the ambulance I was later in kind of made up for it. I have since consulted several doctors to diagnose the reason for this ailment, and they all blame the lack of allergens I was exposed to during my childhood for my poor immunity. However, the mould and the dust inside my cabin, which despite my repeated reminders have not been taken care of, have been instrumental in developing a thick skin inside my nose, despite the initial discomfiture. I congratulate you on your long-term vision and strategic planning as you try to make your employees healthier and more adaptable. I retract all emails I've sent on the matter to the admin department, and will probably fire my maid to create similarly fitness-centric environment in my own household. 

All things considered, sir/madam, I rather like working as a slave in your honourable sweatshop. I just love all those unearthly hours that I have to work through to please absolute strangers who could not care less about my existence, and I absolutely cherish the fact that I have a chance to avoid my family who desperately need my care and attention. I would like to continue contributing to the organisation’s growth trajectory and sowing the seeds of your success with my own blood and sweat, regardless of the status of the next appraisal. I would still like that appraisal though, as it would help raise my social and financial status and allow me a chance to be a better standard of miserable than I am now.

Warm retards,
Yours frustratingly,


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