Ajay Sharma learns a lesson.
Ajay was an insufferable arrogant snob. He belonged to the entitled and elite class. He came from a family of four generations of professionals and government servants, had studied in elite Educational institutions and was fluent in English. Having joined the bank directly as an officer through competitive examinations, he felt that he was a cut above the rest. It did not help that most of his seniors or colleagues had come up from the ranks and almost all of them were first-generation educated, coming from the hinterlands of India with only a nodding acquaintance with the language of our erstwhile colonizers. It would not be too inappropriate to state here that he stuck out like a proverbial sore thumb. This is what led to his insufferable behaviour. However, the strange fact about insufferable snobs is that they took pride in the fact that they were insufferable snobs and rarely made amends to rectify their demeanour.
On top of this, he was given the charge of a branch at a very tender age and the branch became a star performer, earning him recognition from the top management. This completely went to his head and he behaved like he was already running the company.
His immediate boss was a good friend and his drinking buddy. So they were quite casual in their personal interactions as well. Ajay, however, did not respect the boundaries and was casual and more often than not, delightfully (according to him) irreverent in his official interactions as well. This led to his downfall.
One day, when the boss had called for a meeting of the branch heads, Ajay did not turn up or even bother to send an excuse. When his boss called, he replied quite flippantly-
“I know what you are going to say. It will be the same old crap.Consider that you have said it and I have heard it Let me do what I do best- earning revenue and profits for you. You give your lecture to the other team members, I am spending my time more profitably for the company…”
Now Ajay may have gotten away with such flippant remarks in a personal meeting but unfortunately for him, the conversation was going on while the phone was on speaker and the other branch managers and the bosses team were listening in.
His boss disconnected the phone and did not inform him of his folly, so Ajay was blissfully unaware of this howler!
However, when the promotion results at the end of the year were declared, he was shocked to find his name missing despite being the ‘Star Performer’. Moreover, all his batchmates (except for those who had reached the highest level of incompetence) were promoted and would soon be his seniors in the company.
Ajay was furious. He left the office at midday to hit the bar and get sozzled. Then, in that inebriated state, he barged into his boss’s chamber and asked him what kept him from being promoted. He also stated that if he (the boss) wanted a bribe, he should have been man enough to say so! His shocked colleagues ran in to try to calm Ajay down but his boss was unflappable.
He calmly replied that performance alone is not a criterion for promotion- there are columns for maturity and relations with superiors. His boss also wanted to know what should be written about Ajay under those headings. Moreover, he pointed out, not-so-subtly, that if you fight with one boss it could be a bad boss..with two, it could be bad luck.. but when you fight with three bosses, it shows that something is wrong with “you”.
For once, Ajay did not have any cocky reply up his sleeve.
He decided that from then on that he would take things very easy and do the minimum required, as most of his colleagues did.
Seeing his depressed attitude, his wife suggested that Ajay should quit his job and go back to his real passion- viz. writing. She had a very good job too and would support Ajay.
Although it was a tempting suggestion, Ajay knew it would not be possible. After all, they belonged to the stereotypical Indian middle class society, where the man being supported by his wife would simply not be acceptable.
However, the one good thing that came off it was that he started spending far more time at home and participated fully In bringing up his little daughter!
Moreover, he started writing again and sent some stories to the leading newspapers. These stories were accepted and that gave him immense satisfaction and earned him a decent amount of money as well. He pondered… that for a few hours of labour, he was earning some extra money (which as a branch-in-charge, he would really have to slog twice as hard to earn as much).
During the next review meeting with the corporate bosses, Ajay dropped a bomb. He asked his bosses whether performance means ‘revenue and profits’ or ‘expensive gifts to seniors’. This was the subtle reference to a colleague who was known to gift his seniors and visiting officials from the corporate office, suit-lengths from a showroom that he owned and managed in office time.This colleague was also amongst the list of promoted officers in the last promotion.
His remark was actually a bombshell that had a dual effect.
Firstly, the officer with the showroom, was transferred to a branch (two thousand kilometers away) and had to resign his job as he could not work there.
Secondly, although he missed his promotion that year, Ajay got promoted in the subsequent year and ultimately caught up with all his batchmates in the corporate ladder.
The best outcome of the one year delay in his promotion was that his branch was just across the road from his house. As a result of which, he could spend a lot of time with his daughter… teaching her to cycle, taking care of her when she was unwell, being with her at meal times, telling her stories and playing with her. He cherished these times forever.
Although his writing career was interrupted the next year when he got larger responsibilities and challenges, it became a fallback for him whenever he was frustrated in his corporate life.
Most importantly, this lesson in life taught him humility and better manners (at least in public interactions)…virtues he had not imbibed in his entitled life as an erstwhile arrogant snob.