A day in the life of an I.T. Bachelor, chapter 2: Check up

Here is part 1. As I was transcribing part 2, I realized that the ponderious dadabudality of Ashok from 7 years ago was getting rather tiresome. So I decided to brutally hack long sentences and banish every GRE word to 14 years of exile. Also made it a little more contemporary.

Chapter 2: Check up

After managing to retrieve my ID card using the neighbour’s broomstick through the front window, I boarded the office bus, a big hulking beast that had several shock absorbers, each of them optimally (or is it pessimally) placed to provide the least amount of absorbance where I was seated. The conductor (ok, the chap who was not driving) first made me fill about 3 generations family tree data on an attendance sheet and also demanded to see my bus pass with his scanning electron microscope.

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

Of course, I did not bring my bus pass because it was in the back-pocket of my one good black pant that was currently in the washing machine’s dryer. I had, after a few months, decided to wash that pant but had forgotten to take it out of the dryer. A week ago.

I asked him to make an exception. No, he said

Why, I asked. Rules, he said

I told him that unless I get to the office on time and feverishly type on my keyboard, the stock market would crash. I don’t care, he said

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

I asked him if the bus would wait a couple of minutes as I climbed up 4 flights of “stares” to retrieve my bus pass from back pocket of a crumpled black pant. In a washing machine dryer. No, he said

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

I asked him if he had a heart. Compassion. Understanding. Empathy. No, he answered.

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

I de-bussed and walked away, sulking, with my bag slung strategically to cover gaping hole in trouser and hailed an auto, which was going in the direction opposite to mine. With no regard to oncoming traffic, he dramatically turned the auto 180 degrees, exchanged a few pleasantries involving home-notification prior to departure with other motorists nonplussed by his sudden change in direction, swerved at the last moment to avoid hitting me, stopped, looked me up and down, and asked me where I wanted to go.

Thiruvanmiyur, I said, instead of saying “TIDAL Park”. I wanted to throw his profession detector off.

150 rupees, he said.

Clearly, my trick had not worked. Must have been the ID card I was wearing. Not in a mood to haggle, I got in, and 20 minutes, and some casual disregard for other vehicles on the road later, I was deposited at the entrance to my office. A security guard, who hailed from one of those states reduced to a single 4-sec tribal dance in the original Mile Sur, blew his whistle furiously, presumably wanting to indicate to us that we were breaking some rule. Only problem, he spoke no language I understood and I most certainly did not understand whistlespeak.

After some impromptu Dumb-C, I learned that the place where I was disembarking was earmarked, as per Rules, for folks disembarking from cars. I asked him if there were make/model restrictions as well. The sarcasm sailed over his head like a Sehwag swat over point.

He continued whistling more instructions, which I decoded as the precise lane that I must use to walk in to the premises.

Why, I mimed. Rules, he whistled.

But before I could step through, another guard waved a handheld scanner at my bag and from the frequency of the annoying beep it made, he deduced the contents of my bag. He asked me if I was carrying a camera. Photography inside premises is banned, he added.

I briefly thought about clarifying if the 5 megapixel photo and video capturing feature on my smartphone came under this category. But I decided not to. I wanted to get to my seat quickly and douse the flames of crisis by the cunning use of the Send-Email button. He waved me on.

I walked down the lane reserved for incoming employees from my company and barring a brief stop by yet another whistlespeaking guard for not having my ID card face up, I soon found myself at the imposing doorway that was mostly sealed except for the small metal detector that all of us had to pass through.
In my hurry, I breezed through only to find myself on the receiving end of a whistle symphony performed by several guards all of whom descended on me like a SWAT team, except without any purpose, speed or weapons.

I had forgotten to remove my bag and place it on the airport style scanner that was next to the doorframe. I tried pointing out that there was no security guard looking at the monitor, but to no avail.

Why, I asked? Rules, they said.

I obliged, collected my bag at the other end, and a senior looking guard asked me if I was carrying any CD ROMS, Floppy disks or iPods. I had a w4r3z DVD, a 500 GB external HDD and a Cowon S9, so I told him no. He waved me on, and I was about to head for the elevator when another guard ordered me to swipe my ID card on the attendance scanner.

I tried every possible direction, left to right, top to bottom, scratch-scratch, tap-tap, hit-hit, but the all important beep that the security guard was looking for just didn’t materialize. One of the slightly more enthusiastic chaps took matters into his own hand and used his own security personnel access card and signed me in. I pointed out that he had just signed himself out. That’s ok, he said, but everybody had to use the card reader before entering the elevator.

Why I asked? Rules, he said.

I was just about to join the crowd outside the elevator when the senior security chap pointed out that I hadn’t filled the register. I told him that I had just been swiped in electronically. He told me that I still had to make an entry in the registers. I asked him why the plural suddenly. He just remembered the personal items register, he responded. I asked him if it did not strike him as a little wasteful to make folks fill out register after register despite there being an electronic record of their entry. He said no, it did not strike him.

Why, I asked. Rules, he said

I then joined to the crowd waiting outside the elevator, almost all of them with headphones in their ears tuning out the oppressive silence of an IT company lobby. I carefully checked to see if any of them were using iPhones, because as per Rules, iPods were not allowed and Steve Jobs tells us that an iPhone is also an iPod. Thankfully no one. Most of this crowd was using Nokia N-series phones, and some of them were, in fact, waiting not just for the elevator but for the music app to load after they had clicked on it.

I waited, and when the elevator did arrive, it was packing about 5 more people than the weight limit allowed. Apparently, the folks from the 1st floor decided that they would rather take a down elevator and then go up instead of waiting for the better part of this century for an empty up-elevator to arrive. After about 15 minutes, I gave up and took the only form of exercise IT folks get – taking the stairs out of sheer frustration at waiting for elevators in these poorly designed SEZ buildings that always have about 4 elevators too less.

I huffed and puffed my way up to the 7th floor and was just about to swipe my ID card to enter the “specially secure” area my seat was in when the security guard for that floor stopped me. He told me that I was violating the dress code and that he had been instructed by HR to catch and bring all violators to their lair. I asked what section of the code I was flouting. I was wearing a formal, soul-deadeningly executive shirt and my roommate’s slightly damaged but impeccably formal Van Heusen trousers. He pointed at my collar and said that as per the new dress code, this kind of collar was not allowed. He added that my (roomie’s) pant also had one pocket too many and was of a cut that was against the Rules.

I pleaded with him to let this slide and let me get to my all too crucial email client, but he said no.

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

He marched me to the HR bay, and after making me fill another register named “HR Entry Rejister”, shooed me in to an area filled entirely with well-dressed women, all of whom immediately seemed to know what my strategically slung bag was hiding. Some sniggered. I looked at my wrist, and finding no watch, fished my phone out of my pant’s front pocket. Some loose threads got stuck in the camera shutter mechanism on its way out and I heard the small snap of the shutter  breaking.

The time was 10 am, and my project’s crisis was now beyond salvage, so I shifted gears into full combat mode. I walked over to the most senior looking HR lady and asked her what the point of such a ridiculously detailed dress code was. Her response included several words my brain had learned to tune out, like “corporate”, “brand image” and “standards”. I was not going to give up so soon, now that I had the rest of the day to blame my woes on HR. I told her that I was perfectly complying with last week’s dress code and that these new collar/cut addenda were unknown to me. We sent you an email, she interjected. Oh, but I have an automatic filter that moves emails from HR to the trash folder, I blurted out.

At this point, the climate in the room became distinctly chilly in a way that only a room filled entirely with women and one unpopular man can become chilly. Clearly, they did not like the fact that I deleted their emails, all of which were usually 2 MB colourful announcements that used inspirational MS Office clipart and featured striking typography in Comic Sans and Monotype Corsiva, and tended to fill up my 10 MB corporate mailbox allotment pretty quickly. I said nothing more, and waited for the guillotine to fall. The senior HR lady pointed to a workstation whose label (printed in Monotype Corsiva CAPS) read “FOR DRESSCODE VIOLATORS” and ordered me to fill out an online form that logged my crime for posterity.

I walked back to the door and tried getting out. Not so soon, said the security guard on the other side. He pointed at the “HR Exit rejister”.

Why, I pleaded. Rules, he said

I trudged towards my work area and tried to swipe myself in. No beep. The guard asked me if I had signed myself into the building at the lobby. I said no, another guard signed me in. He briefly paused to consider the implications of what I had just said. Was this a code red emergency, he wondered. But thankfully, he just fished out another register named “No Access register” and made me fill it in before he let me in.

I carefully avoided eye contact with several colleagues who would have faced the wrath of “onsite” thanks to the morning’s crisis and were now looking at me accusingly. I slunk into my seat and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and after a few minutes, Windows Vista deigned to let me type in my login credentials. I hit enter, and twiddled my thumbs as I waited for 4 anti-virus software, 3 web-browsing filters and 2 other daemons designed to limit employee productivity to start up.

I was just about to open my email client when my manager walked over and asked me to join him for coffee.

We headed back towards the exit door, and after making entries in the “Secure area Exit register”, walked to the coffee area that had a sugar syrup self-service vending machine operated by a security guard.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: All details are mostly fictional and are not set in any real world office

83 Comments

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  1. As usual, rofl! The auto-guy’s turn and his pleasantries with other motorists… sublime!
    Great stuff krish, cant wait for the next part…

    P.S have seen loads of ppl comment on being the first one, u doling out prizes or somethin? if so, this just might be my turn!
    Ashok: I am doling out prizes for folks who are first but make no reference to this execrable “first to comment” phenomenon 🙂

    1. Ah, so was I discrete enough? P.S doesnt count, or maybe half a prize… at least an autographed print-out of PMSMT 2.0 maybe 😉

  2. I see the entry into Tidel Park and the journey to the elevator everyday, its brilliant.

    “A security guard, who hailed from one of those states reduced to a single 4-sec tribal dance in the original Mile Sur, blew his whistle furiously, …….” – Hahahahahahahahaha how true

  3. Pleasure to your posts. Could relate to the situations.
    But I preferred the writing in the first half . It had a nostalgic feel to it – probably the long sentences or the ‘time period’.

    Looking forward for Part3

  4. exchanged a few pleasantries involving home-notification prior to departure //

    Loved that when I thought of the Tamil translation

  5. Nice post… I found the first part more hilarious than this….
    Best part was “Why I asked? Rules, he said.”.. may be you missed frisking register in the middle…

  6. I have precisely the same question as Sruthi Radhakrishnan. Also Windows Vista?
    But the home-notification by the auto driver was super 😀
    Ashok: And I have precisely the same answer. Contemporized. See starting paragraph. Imagine that this is Ashok from 7 years ago, time traveling to 2010 and writing this. The story idea is 7 years old. The details are contemporary

    1. “Imagine that this is Ashok from 7 years ago, time traveling to 2010 and writing this. The story idea is 7 years old. The details are contemporary”

      I don’t see a prominent credit that reads “Adapted from a story by Krish Ashok from 7 years ago.” You self-plagiarizer, you!

  7. saar… unga ID card thaan unga roomla vituteengale? and locked urself out? athe yepadi saar yedutheenga? VJkanth help pannara, to wake up ur roomie?

    “story of our life” vachu oru Ramba-Ramayanam yeluthaam polaye!!!

    Awesome… just waiting for the 3 rd part ..

  8. Do not question the master. For he makes no mistakes.. Don’t you see ?
    Story written 7 years ago + “Also made it a little more contemporary” = 5mp smartphone, 500 GB hard drive and Vista

  9. “exchanged a few pleasantries involving home-notification prior to departure with other motorists”..That was hysterical!!

    The logging in taking so long/or not able to successfully log in.. And the meeting with the Manager right after..sounds way too familiar. So, are u being let go at the meeting? …. Or something like that?

  10. “exchanged a few pleasantries involving home-notification prior to departure”

    LOL. Awesome.

    Not as funny as the first one, but the auto reference, the ridiculous amount of registers and the self vending sugar syrup machine operated by a security guard are classics! 😀

  11. Please please mail me /publish publicly … the unedited/ “thats 90s show” retro/unhacked long sentences/non contemporary Part 2
    Let your readers decide which they like better.
    U can see u havent managed to please the Mango (re)public (aam janta) despite cedeing to the voices of dissent…
    So give us Part 2 version1 AND Part 2 Version 2 … & try to please all of the people all the time LOL
    Ashok: Well, I hacked it as I transcribed it from my diary, so now I will have to transcribe the original again 🙂 Im not much of a version control chap

  12. ah a nice most, although i felt the old contemporary was better. 🙂 , Let us know about the real krishashok 10 yrs back. 🙂
    and Hey no SI units problem as well. Cheers 🙂
    Waiting for part 3 🙂

  13. I can completely relate to the par –

    “Most of this crowd was using Nokia N-series phones, and some of them were, in fact, waiting not just for the elevator but for the music app to load after they had clicked on it.”

    My N73 takes a grand total of anywhere between 15- to 25 seconds to open up a SMS . 😦

  14. dont mean to be too judgemental about your writing for am no authority to do so, but some of your lines in between were seriously super funny and probably some of your best…espescially the english translation for “ootle sollitu vandhutayaa” and all…
    Ashok: I read the first sentence and I thought you were going to give me some constructive criticism and all that, and then it turns out you liked some of the in-jokes in this one. Thanks man 🙂

  15. Looks like that day was really tough on u. I worked (or Slogged MAO) for an MNC for 4 yrs only to move to the lazy heaven of Goa now. I complained every other day about all the typical stuff that your current post is about. But you really are jinxed i shud say. I really hated those ‘oh-i’m-better-than-you’ type HRs too. Waiting to read how your day really ends up to be. Cheers till then.

  16. Hey Ashok,

    Request from one of ur Ardent reader of the ur long sentences with intriguing and purposefully used GRE words are more fun to read on ,

    So by someway u can travel back in time/ or rather more realistically look for saved copy of ur old work which u did by mistake / or check in the recycle bin u forgot to flush it out) post the old non contemporary bit ashok,

    auto driver bit was sublime , gr8 work ashok ,,,

    lookin forward for part 3 ;
    cheers

    1. Hi,
      I am am a big fan our urs and this is the first time I am commenting 🙂
      Well.. You mentioned that you have a separate brush for applying hair dye and that both u nd ur roomie are bachelors. These two statements seem to be inconsistent…
      Ashok: Bachelors have been known to have the occasional grey hair, if not grey cells.

      1. Well, many a bachelor has had the problem of greying hair 😐

        And seeing from KA’s profile pic, doesn’t it seem plausible that the french beard is that black for a reason? 😆

  17. ermm…can someone de-tamilize the “home notification” thingy?

    And allow me to point out some inconsistencies:

    – Part 1 says “I looked at my watch, realized that I was late for some unimportant, yet crucial meeting,” but the same watch is gone in part 2
    – Agreed some 4th floor flats have corridor-facing-windows but id card was not kept in bedroom but near the afore window?
    – If keys were inside the flat, not much point in asking the ‘chap who wasn’t driving’ to get the id card from the back pocket, is there?
    – Gray checks come under the category of formal soul-deadeningly executive shirts?

    I agree with the comments above that ask for a non-contemporarization of the story. Old is Gold, y’know….

    (I know I sound like those pessimal shock absorbers but am a QA guy 😛 )
    Ashok: The watch I looked at in part 1 was on the table, not worn on my hand. Bachelors apartment layout – guy walks in, hangs ID card on a nail/places it near exit because it reduces the chances of forgetting it. It’s right there when one is about to leave. And the conductor chap is not asking for my ID card. He is asking for my bus pass. A very crucial difference. The bus pass is separately issued in order to increase the chances of one forgetting to get in in addition to ones id card. And grey checks in the south – absolutely executive.

    And the home notification thingie is the english translation for “Vootla soltu vandhiya”, a common curse heard on the road, where the aggrieved party will often ask the erring driver if he’s notified home that he is going outside because at his driving quality level, his chances of survival are poor

    1. ehhe……nice cover-up indeed. In other words, “As designed”!

      My Q was for bus pass itself…forgot the keys but still asked chap permission to get it. Of course, said chap doesn’t know abt the key moments of forgetfulness 😀

      And Tx for the translation….same query that was asked of Nag in Mani saar’s Geetanjali.

  18. That kind of nonsense is why I work from home. And someone really ought to write a bayesian filter of sorts that detects and automatically trashes junk email from multiple departments. Especially the “please fill out this completely anonymous survey” emails, with a survey form that requires you to login with your intranet id and password, and then you get about a dozen reminders before the survey is over though you already filled the damned thing up.

    1. If only everyone else could work from home- though my workplace doesn’t have any of these insanities either. The only kooky thing I’ve had is to submit to a ‘random check’ of the official laptop, where they note down the serial number.

      1. Our random checks of official laptops are automated .. a full malware scan, scan of licenses for the software installed etc etc etc.

        A lot of the soul deadeningness can be escaped if you work from home in India and mostly with teams based stateside / elsewhere in the world.

  19. I hate IT companies for this… just for doing one mokka mba project, I had to make entries in so many registers. I will be sitting in one corner and observing all the galatta ppl do.. so kinda could related to the post .. 🙂 Very hilarious and very true too Krish 🙂 🙂

    RULES, ID card, no mobiles, registers… sick…hats off to everyone working in IT companies 😀

  20. uhm…nice, but i would have preferred the story with the long sentences and the ‘non-contemporarisation’! Would have loved to see a writing sample of the younger krishashok!
    Why, he asked? Its more cool, I said.

  21. Hey Ashok,

    We’ve sent you umpteen number of mails. It would be amazing if we got a reply.
    Nice blog, by the way 😉

    -NIT Trichy

  22. The Home Notification thingie is not the sole monopoly of Tamil… 🙂

    In Delhi too we have had colorful conversations that stem from a ubiquitous “abbay, ghar mein bathake aaya kya? ”
    & I am sure the rest of our states(the 4 sec , female siblings included LOL) have their own delightful local brand 🙂

    As they say…you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive …
    take it from an experienced driver LOL

  23. Sehwag swat over point was ultra-brilliant.

    Another piece you could possibly add is about allowing auto drivers inside the premises wherein the security actually asks the auto driver and proceeds to check if he has a driving license as happens in a few companies

  24. Brilliant..especially the part where you try to trick the auto driver.. i love ur traditional way of writing .. short sentences and tamil references.. please stick on to it…ur part one had shades of Wodehousian eloquence…tht was good too.. but definitly not as good as this..too many gre words spoils the fun..:(

  25. “A security guard, who hailed from one of those states reduced to a single 4-sec tribal dance in the original Mile Sur, blew his whistle furiously”… laughter and applause……. 😀

  26. Vootla sollittu vandhya….kaalangkaarthaala kazhutharukka vandhuttanuga…….yep, very familiar…….very naiiiiice writing Krish!

  27. Longtime reader and have commented on rare occasion. Really like your writing esp the KrishAshokContemporaryVersion.

    Since quite a few folks are urging you to go GRE and super-long; felt compelled to vote in against. Jeez please dont go back to that style of the last post!

    Thanks,
    Jai

  28. “Colourful announcements that used inspirational MS Office clipart and featured striking typography in Comic Sans and Monotype Corsiva” …am glad some else hates them as much as I do 😀

  29. Really funny…you must be a champion at lateral thinking quizzes or tests! Have never stepped into an IT company office before, so I don’t know how much embellishment has gone into this post.
    Ashok: Actually, I detest all forms of tests and exams. As far as modeling real life to educate young people, they are about as far from reality as it gets. Real life is almost always an open book test. Sometimes the books one uses can be wrong, but its still an open book test

    1. You have subtly made an amazing point. It is so true that the info required to tackle life is out there, and some of us do a great job of finding it. Am still hunting though!

  30. Brilliant dude! Am a first timer in writing a comment although I have read your blog umpteen number of times.Love your humor,sarcasm and style of writing.Rock on! It would be great if you write a book!

  31. I’m surprised no one caught this- You autokaran is the only one who didn’t say ‘Rules’!
    What irony- The Autokaran not following essential rules, while the rest are determined to execute senseless rules to the letter!

  32. Krish,

    I enjoyed your recent article in cricinfo. What particularly fascinated me was your mention of your uncle being from gopalasamudram. My grandfather hails from Tharuvai but grew up in gopalasamudram. He later became a schoolmaster there. His son, T.S. Krishnamurthy, my maternal uncle, later became Chief election Commissioner of India.

    I was wondering if you had heard of my grandfather. If so, or even if not, feel free to send me an email.

    My name is Kishore Sharma and I presently reside in New Jersey, US.

    Best,

    Kishore

  33. Ready to recline at the table ( roman ishtyle), order ‘bring the food and the dancing girls’…I mean waiting for part 3.
    cheers

  34. Definitely preferred part 1. home notification and states reduced to a 4 sec dance in mile sur – absolute gems.

    Hubby’s longstanding desire has been to put a dead snake in his bag and watch the security guard’s expression…

  35. For honestly when I saw your post and topic about IT Bachelor .. I was like ehh..

    but when I finished reading your first paragraph, then I couldn’t stop reading until the last lines !! .. nice written .. keep on working 🙂

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