Cool Buddies

A distant dream [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on January 7, 2009

“Dad, Can I go to the excursion next week?” Shreya asked while Akhil was still sitting in his bed with his laptop. He was staring at the screen with a blank look on his face. His face showed signs of exhaustion after the previous night’s marathon web meeting he attended with his peers. “Dad?” Shreya queried. “Yes, go, go, I am fine” Akhil responded finally. Many thoughts ran through Akhil’s mind while Shreya, his daughter ran away from the room.

Akhil is a senior manager with another not-so-heard-of software company based in Bangalore. And today, was not just another day for him. He had to start the process of choosing the employees he had to lay off as a result of the companies decision to do some cost cutting. And he had just three days to do that.

An urgent meeting was held the previous night presided by the company’s CEO and many others from the board. Akhil and others did not get to say too much, they were just the audience and future pawns. They were being dragged into a cruel game. A kind of game whose tagline reads ‘Either kill, or die’. Although the exact words were never used, it was clear to Akhil that if he did not choose to send off a few employees and participated in the game, he would be on the receiving end of it.

The company, like many others always claimed of success and popularity all the while. The products being made were mediocre, and Akhil always knew that, but in those situations too, he had to play the game of presenting a pretty picture to the employees. So as always, there were claims of huge customer satisfaction, major deals, so on and so forth. But now this. ‘If we are so well off why should we stoop so low to send a handful of employees away … and without dignity’, he thought.

“This is India Damn-it. We are an emotional lot. They can’t do this to my employees, they will be heart-broken” Akhil told his wife Sneha. “Why don’t you do something about it? You are a manager and all” She responded with the naivity of the school teacher that she was. Akhil had thought about it. What could he do about it? He was clearly asked not to discuss this with any employees. Infact one of the persons on the list was his peer who was not invited to yesterday’s meeting. He was to quickly come up with a list of names merely based on what projects they were working on. It was not based on talent, potential, any of that.

Some of the employees were below par, and Akhil knew that. ‘But still? How can you ask someone to just go away one day. After all the effort they had put in for this company. Agreed, they are just other human beings, living careless lives, marrying, having kids, watching movies, taking loans, and getting paid for their work. But were they not human beings? Wouldn’t this be traumatic?’ Akhil thought. ‘How would they react? What about their wife and kids, or their parents? You are hurting a lot of people’ Akhil could not stop worrying.

But did Akhil have a choice? He was just doing his job. And he needed his job. His status. His car. His posh home. Also he was beyond an age where he can attend interviews and wait in queues for jobs. ‘I shall probably send off some freshers’ he thought. ‘But what about their confidence, they would be shattered. Shit! my company sucks. It literally sucks the living blood out of human beings’

As Akhil entered his room, he could feel a deathly silence around the office. News must have spread. There were friend circles that cut across managers and other employees. ‘Someone must have leaked the news’ he thought. Akhil was always the diplomatic one. He never mixed friendship with work. And now he hated himself for that. Somehow, he felt people would think he is an asshole now. The ones who were humane and friendly would get away with lesser curses.

As Akhil stared at the list of employees he had chosen, many thoughts crossed his mind. He had chosen 5 veterans and 3 freshers. He had worked with all of them. All of these folks will be called to a meeting and just asked to pack their bags and leave. They will not be given a chance to say anything. Adding to the insult, they will be escorted by security personnel, lest they do any verbal or physical damage. They will not be allowed to have a cubicle chat with anyone before leaving. ‘How shameful’ he thought.

‘No, I cannot let this happen. I cannot let some power-and-money hungry, morally deprived people sitting in comfortable chairs insult my people’ Akhil thought. He sat up and typed a mail and sent it across. Later during the day he spent his day smiling at all his colleagues and went home.

The mail he sent to the V.P and Director read:
“After working for this company for five fruitful years, I have decided to let myself go. During all these years, I always thought I was doing the right thing. But as the company has decided to go on an all out low in morals, I decide to bail out and live like a human being. You might not immediately understand my harsh decision, but you will, if you turn around and smile at your colleague and appreciate him/her for the simple human being that they are”

Akhil lives, only in my imaginary, ideal world. How much I wish there were managers like Akhil, who would make me really proud to be a human being.

— Ratheesh Pisharody

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