Bosses are a necessary evil. The mere hint of their presence is enough to make you feel guilty about every unofficial mail you read or every site you visit surreptitiously while pretending to work hard. But the solemn pearls of wisdom that drop from their mouths every now and then make up for the hours you spend slogging for them. Here’s a sample nugget from an ex-boss!
This boss, let’s call him RK, was the Director of the company where I worked. If nature had had its way with him, he would have turned into the proverbial “lala”. However, nurture intervened with an English medium education and placed him right in the center of a US-based MNC. The result was an adulterated, Americanized Desi who sprouted words like “skedjule” and “monies” in an accent that was second only to his skin in terms of thickness. At the best of times, it was difficult to understand what he was saying. So my policy in all dealings with him was to smile and nod vigorously. This worked most of the time as my interactions with him were limited to accidental meetings near the printer, water cooler, or the coffee machine. He was not really involved with my department but as I was a senior employee, he felt obliged to say Hi or Hello and make some polite enquiry. I would smile, nod, and beat a hasty retreat.
Then once, when I was about eight months pregnant, I happened to meet him by the printer. As I needed the printout urgently, I couldn’t find any way to avoid him. So as per my policy, I smiled and nodded at him.
He smiled and said, “And twang twang you?” Interpreting this to be “How are you?” I smiled politely and replied that I was fine, thank you.
The boss’s gaze then dropped to my protruding tummy. Looking up, he beamed and said distinctly, “So, any time now?”
“No, no,” I said continuing to smile, “There’s still one month left.”
“Oh!” said the boss with a slightly puzzled expression, “Have you postponed it?”
Momentarily robbed of speech, I just gave a weak smile, grabbed my printout and waddled off to my workstation as fast as my legs could carry.
“RK is nuts!” I told my husband later that day after relating the whole incident. My husband worked in the same office so he was familiar with RK’s vagaries. “You probably misheard him,” said my husband, much to my surprise. “Even he can’t be that dumb.”
My protests that that was exactly what he’d said went unheard. But I didn’t have to wait long for my husband to come round to my point of view. A month and a half to be exact.
I was in Kerala enjoying my time with my infant son. My husband had remained in Delhi. About fifteen days earlier, the entire office had joined in an impromptu celebration as my hubby had got news of our son’s birth. This day, after an hour of what he considered intense work, my husband wandered out to the open space meant for smokers. As he took a puff, he was joined by none other than Mr. RK himself.
RK opened the conversation with “So what’s your daughter’s name?”
“Son’s,” my husband corrected while thinking that big people can’t be expected to remember these little details.
“Sanz?” said RK, with the puzzled expression back on his face. “What a strange name!”
“No, no, I meant I have a son. His name is Aakash.”
“Oh!” said the boss with an even deeper look of puzzlement, “Are you SURE?”
That day, my husband agreed that RK was nuts!