Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A life that will never be...

It is just another morning. I wake up. I have my routine egg, fruit and cereal breakfast with no sense of urgency or eagerness. I get the first call from my boss while getting ready for work, asking for a piece of data that he should be knowing but probably didn't need to know till his boss asked him. Unlike my initial days in the role, I tell him I will give it to him once I reach office. In the middle of the call, I remember there was an urgent closure that I had been chasing him for for the past few days. I remind him again. He tells me he will discuss it face to face in office. He says he will be there by 10.15AM.

As usual, I reach office by 10.00AM. I switch on my computer. While it boots, I update my white board with the tasks I need to finish today, three-fifths of them requiring closure from my boss. I finish checking the plethora of mails that come from two dozen people, deleting probably 30% of them which are inconsequential to my work, flagging the important ones that I will reply to during the day and feeling amused by the ones asking for the same set of data in different formats sent by at least six different people for the second time this week.

My direct reportees ( henceforth referred to as colleagues) come to work - weary at the start of the day. I cheer them up by showing them a photograph I clicked another day or sharing a piece of writing that inspired me. I chat up with them about their evening with their families, sometimes even offering them a morning snack. In the meanwhile, they give me a verbal update on the jobs at hand and highlight barriers that they are facing, if any. I address the concerns within my purview. I also share with them the  priorities for the day and answer any queries they have about the same. We start working.

It is 11.00AM. I receive a call from my boss asking me to come to his cabin. I find my colleague standing in his cabin. He is being scolded relentlessly for something without being given a chance to explain. Once I figure out what the discussion is about, I interrupt and ask him to step out of the room. Coolly and confidently, I repeat the same point that he was trying to make to my boss. My boss listens and clears the confusion he had. He reminds me to share the data he had asked for in the morning. I tell him it is ready and I will send it to him right away. I ask him for the urgent closure that I wanted, which he promises to resolve post lunch.

I continue working, talking to my colleagues in the field locations, chasing them for certain closures - some of them respond proactively, others need to be pushed and some simply don't care - too many people are driving too many agendas, they say. I receive my boss's call while speaking to one of them and as a rule, our team makes his call the top priority to avoid facing tantrums. I put my colleague on hold and respond to my boss. He asks me that he has just received a mail from XYZ (obviously his senior) on the status of an activity ABC. I tell him that was what I was seeking closure on from him for the last few days. He asks me to come to his cabin right away. I explain the situation to him. While doing so, he is interrupted by a call from his wife. I wait till he completes the conversation explaining his 9 year old son why he must 'punctually' do his homework . He then closes the matter with me and pushes the rest of my agenda for a later point in time.

We break for lunch. During lunch,  I receive a call from a member of another team in the head office asking me for the status of a certain activity whose details they think they had communicated to me. I tell them I was not aware that this was planned. They start giving me a piece of their mind on how I could not know what was happening with the apparently 'most important agenda' of the company. I calmly respond by saying we will discuss after lunch. The first thing I see in my inbox when I get back to my desk is a flurry of mails marked to my boss, his boss, the sender's boss, the sender's boss's boss and a host of other people whose existence I discover through the mail. My boss forwards one of the mails asking if the said accusation is true. I tell him it is, if he is assuming I have read one tiny line on the fifth slide of the seventh presentation in a 105 MB download. To resolve the matter, we plan a concall on the following morning involving all parties, which will probably have no conclusion yet again except a revised deadline.

I go back to my white board where I see I have struck of only two of the five agendas on my list today. I start working with a vengeance until I get a call from another team that reports into my boss, informing me of a development that falls under my scope of work. I discover my instructions have been overridden and certain spends approved in my budget without my knowledge by none other than you-know-who. I smile knowing it isn't as bad - at least this time I am aware the spends are going to happen before they actually happen, unlike the whole of last year. I just make note of the same and continue working.

I again receive a call from my boss. I am supposed to write a speech for him as he takes on his new role (in which he will again remain my boss) summarizing the achievements of the year that has gone by. As usual, he wants it immediately. I go back to my desk, pull out one of the gazillion sugar coated decks filled with convenient truths, write up a shoddy ten-liner and hand it over to him - wondering how a man at that position in the company can't come up with a short informal five minute introduction to his territory and team. While reading the speech, he nonchalantly curses one of my now former team members (who had won the president's honour in the company) who, as per him, was responsible for a costly oversight that, according to me, was as much a case of negligence on his own part.

I remain neutral while he continues his rant post which I tell him my closures are still pending. He tells me he has to leave at 4PM as he has important personal work (yet again). He asks me to travel with him on his way home so that we can close the pending tasks in his car. Left with the alternate option of wasting the rest of the day, I travel with him. I discuss everything on my list with him, knowing that he would probably not remember most of what I told him. I would have to repeat the whole explanation and sometimes even rework on the piece when he discovers the outcome of the points I acted upon.

I plug in my headphones, listening to my current favourite song on loop and head back home. I don't switch on my laptop again in the day.

Song on my Mind:



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