A day in the life of an I.T. Bachelor, chapter 3: Break up

Here is part 1 and part 2. Barring the occasional edit, this is more or less untouched, although I have cut out an entire section from the end to keep the length manageable. This is the final part.

Chapter 3: Break up

The sugar syrup vending machine now had a security guard who was checking ID cards before letting us fill our cups.

The guard dutifully squinted at our ID cards and used advanced CSI like techniques in his brain to age-advance and match the faded 15 year old photo of my manager (with a full head of hair) with his current dopey-eyed bald look. Satsified, he opened a dusty cupboard with a small key and let us have our plastic cups. He also made us fill a “Cofee Register” with fields such as name, employee number, number of cups, date, time, signature and for some reason, “remarks” as well.

I put in “Did not eat breakfast, therefore fortifying myself with concentrated sucrose syrup” in the remarks column and the both of us started walking back to our work area.

We have issues”, declared my manager, in a tone of voice that might have announced that the Spartans had attacked our city.

Issues? What issues?”, I asked, in a tone of voice that suggested that I thought the word “issue” meant children

We have an escalation”, he clarified, in a voice that might have announced that I had AIDS

Who escalated what?”, I queried, in a tone that suggested that the only escalation I was aware of was the one to heaven while a lengthy guitar solo played in the background

Onsite”, he said, in a voice ominous enough to suggest that the people he was referring to had the numbers 666 hidden in their scalp

But we made the deliverables on time”, I exclaimed, sounding like an advertisement for a Swiss watch

Onsite did not receive the email attachment”, he interjected, sounding like the “before use” part of an ad for Amrutanjan

But we zipped it, rar-ed it and LHarc-ed it till we got it to under the 1 MB email attachment limit we have”, I said in the desperate voice of an Arab peasant telling the crusaders that he was just a human being

But we failed to meet stakeholder expectations”, he said in a disappointed voice that suggested that we had missed a dinner appointment with Rajinikanth.

But…”, I started, and ended, like a soggy 100-wala on Deepavali. We had reached the door to our work area. We made the necessary register entries and walked in.

We need to have a meeting”, he declared in the voice of a euthanizing doctor just about to pull the plug on someone.

I can handle this offline sir”, I said, desperate to avoid “the meeting”, which meant email invites and worse, reminding people on email, IM, SMS, phone and in person

We need to fine tune our contingency plan and streamline our onsite-offshore communication”, he said, like an art critic complaining that the Mona Lisa needed a bit of work

We did that last week”, I pleaded, like a prisoner whose parole applications had been declined repeatedly

Looks like we still have gaps”, he pointed out, like Aamer Sohail to Venkatesh Prasad

I resigned to my fate and sulkily walked back to my desk, hit ctrl-alt-delete to log back in to my workstation. Windows wanted to update itself, and it gave me 2 options, Install now and Install a few seconds from now. I sighed, let it reboot and used the intervening aeon to do testicular surgery on my mouse. I used my nails to remove all of the gunk that had accumulated in the roller mechanism and looked at my monitor, only to find out that Windows had installed some new software and it would be mighty nice of me to let it reboot again. Suppressing a desire to throw my machine out its own namesake, I obliged and let it reboot again. I thought I’d charge my phone in the meanwhile, so I changed into cave diving gear and embarked on an expedition beneath my table to find the plug point. I hit my head and twisted my ankle while softly cursing at the school of IT office interior decorators that teaches its wards to make every plug point innaccessible. I eventually found it and realized that the points were so closely spaced that my bulky phone charger would not fit in along with the rest of the plugs already there.

I was now in that stage of that uniquely male frustration when brute force is considered a valid option for any and all problems. I squeezed in my phone’s charger plug through that geometrically unfeasible gap and when I was satisfied that electrons would have enough contact to flow, I extricated myself from under the desk and rubbed my hands of the dust that had now deposited itself on me.

I looked at my monitor, and to my horror, it was blank and that’s when I realized that my brute force insertion of the phone charger plug had disconnected my workstation power supply. I cursed, and got under my desk again to remove my charger, which was now tightly wedged between the other plugs. In utter rage, I yanked it hard, and briefly made contact with 220V/5A of electricity.

I convulsed, jerking my hand away from the plug, hitting it painfully against the underside of my desk. I lay down, in the darkness beneath my desk, with no desire to come out. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I was in a sanctuary. I wanted to spend the rest of my day just lying there, under my desk, far away from escalations, meetings and deliverables. I was in a state of relaxation, meditative and calm.

That’s when the fire alarm rang and a friendly female voice announced that there was going to be a fire drill and that all employees were expected to stay calm, and follow the instructions of the Fire Warden for their floor. I ignored the voice, mentally banishing it to remote depths of my senses and went back to enjoying my dark under-table sanctuary. That was when I saw ,from underneath, the dirty black shoes of manager, and his mismatched pair of socks walking towards my desk.

Where are you? You are the fire warden for this floor. Here, take this helmet, wear it and rally the troops”, he droned, in the voice of the chap who convinced Bahadur Shah Zafar to lead the 1857 mutiny

I laughed.

I got out, with vim and vigour and vowed to discharge my duties as a Fire Warden with glory. I took my bag, as I suddenly remembered that it had a packet of chips from last week’s “Employee of the Month” award ceremony. I was starving and I thought I might munch on chips while waiting outside for the drill to get over.

I wore my helmet, and like Leonidas, urged my fellow employees to leave the tyranny of the office and boldly conquer the outside. I was stopped at the main door by a security guard who told me that bags were not allowed during a fire drill.

“But I already have it, so shouldn’t we be making our exit ASAP?”

“No sir. You have to go back to your desk, leave your bag there, and then continue escaping the fire”

Why, I asked. Rules, he said.

The end

Notes

This is more or less untouched, except for the notice, which is new. The initial dialogue originally started out as a fun exercise in trying out similes for different kinds of voices. It’s rather contrived but I had good fun writing it back then, so I let it stay

74 Comments

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    1. Really a nice blog for everything. If you don’t visit this blog you’ll miss something. Hello Everyone, You can earn $5 to $500 daily or $more from freelancing or outsourcing without investing $0. But the questions are where and how. But I have made it easy for you. You can learn full details and start earning today. So, why wait. Join 2 millions community. Feel free to get the earning freedom at http://bit.ly/gWnjvr

  1. Easily the best part of the three. I wonder if there were long gaps between when you wrote the three parts… this seems several notches better than the previous two.
    Ashok: The very first thing I wrote was that entire dialogue with those Wodehouse-tribute similes for voices. The entire disaster sequence while waking up and trying to charge my phone was written in another stretch. The rest was more like glue to keep all these disparate pieces together

  2. ROFL!! – “I used my nails to remove all of the gunk that had accumulated in the roller mechanism” I’ve done that many times too (though not while waiting for the system to reboot but when the mouse starts to get sticky… yeeks) & then started delegating that task lately 🙂

  3. As usual ROTFL!! Feeling bad to know that it is THE END. Why dont you restart it with the Title “Few Years of an I.T Bachelor” and write as many parts as you can.. Like an unending tamil channel serials!!

    Cheers,
    Ganesh

  4. all 3 together was fun to read. but the ending is a non-ending. rocketu bussu aiduchu..

    and shit, you noting that brute force thing was a win man. i lost count of the number of switch pins i got broke because of the application of brute force. and after this, i would go on and DDT the rest of the machinery, or if cost prohibits, the nearest chair or table.

  5. Agree that this is the best of all three purely because it features Darth On-site. The similes are great. “Like Aamir Sohail to Venkatesh Prasad”, hah! That moment should be made a part of any future ‘Mile Sur’ versions released.

    1. So, so very familiar a story. This was just waiting to be written – if you hadn’t, I would have written it !! Great stuff.

  6. Maybe you should write another part or two. To me it felt like it ended rather abruptly. What happened after that? When did you get to go back home?

  7. “Looks like there are still gaps” he said, like Amir Sohail to Venkatesh Prasad. Classic.

    You might want to link it to the youtube video though, so that non-cricket savvy types will understand. You will find the videos under the genre “If you are an Indian, you must watch this”.

    Also,
    “I convulsed, jerking my hand away from the plug, hitting it painfully against the underside of my desk. I lied down, in the darkness beneath my desk, with no desire to come out”

    Shouldn’t it be I ‘lay’ down?

    Awesome post to finish off the other two btw. You Petra. 🙂

  8. We all have cleaned grimes from the balls of our mouse and the rest of its nether regions from time to time exactly as described!!

    And the inaccessible-plug-point seems to be a regulation for designing an IT cubicles. Banging your head while extricating yourself from the underworld regions of your desk, knocking out the power cord of your workstation..

    Man.. I was hoping you’d churn out an epic of sorts and continue the series. Nevertheless ROTFL post 😀

  9. As they say, all good things in life must to come to and end…so did your bachelorhood…oops, your story of Bachelor Life…!

    Ain’t it…!?

    I guess the 2nd part let us expect more…and the 3rd part said-‘Oh! come on what do you think, you get whatever you want?!’ Eh?! 🙂

  10. Ha Ha Ha. Liked this part better than the other episodes. 🙂 Maybe, I related to these easily in my days past. What is it with the unergonomic positioning of the power outlets? It has been like this for close to 15 years. 🙂 These days I kick the cables under the desk which result in either an Ethernet/Phone line croak or a glitch on the power to the dock leading to a Windows demise.

    Would love to see more episodes from your bachelor days. Thanks.

  11. Nowadays we don’t attach deliverables through emails..We just sent the links…Was expecting a happy ending like our movies (felt ending was abrupt)..May be because this was just an account of a Day..

  12. I clearly remember cleaning my mouse with staple Pin…

    I would get a staple pin and strech it to be straight and then clean the mouse exteriors …..

    But at first i used to ask ladies for safety pin,when they started giving me wiered stares….i came up with the staple pin innovation…

    What is it with IT guys and their Mice…Is it some kind of OCD disorder….

  13. The ending was a tad anti-climactic. You should have completed this series after confronting your sloshed-up friend back at home. A part of me didnt want this piece to end.More such installments will be highly appreciated.

  14. Yes u “lied”…u said there would be a reward for the first commentor , who did not simultaneously declare he/she had “first commented”… ( ahem-ing being allowed 🙂

    Am still waiting for my reward … u lied u lied u lied 🙂

  15. The phone charging (ad)venture you mentioned is so much like the escapades I used to have 🙂 After my 1st stint in IT i hate the word ‘issue’, your reminder on the actual connotation of it, is hilarious and lets me think of the big picture which my manager always wanted me to do 😛

  16. Go simile man ! Almost Every line has a simile, Why is it so ?

    P.s – I thought the part 1 was better than the other 2 because there was no improvisation. This part is too Wodehouseee 😀

  17. Greatttttt post.
    We didnt have a security guard at the coffee machine though..just thimble sized cups to replace the regular ones. Unfortunately, they forgot to reset the “coffee output quantity” on the machine…so each time .. my cup overfloweth with gooey coffee.
    I wonder if that was an issue to be “escalated” to the Gods onsite.

  18. A hilarious account.. could almost visualise the scene in my first job.. stakeholders..deliverables..blah blah.. Poor boss of yours..do you think he reads your blog? 🙂

  19. So, so very familiar a story. This was just waiting to be written – if you hadn’t, I would have written it !! Great stuff.

  20. sigh.. reminds me of my apis days….This is ridiculously similar to the procedure I used to follow in my office… You are not a TCS’er by any chance are you???

  21. Don’t know why, but somehow not enjoying this series as much as your usual posts – perhaps one needs to be an IT worker to appreciate really appreciate it.

  22. this is easily one of the best documents on life in a IT company for a starter. luved it v much as it brought back memories of my first days in IT.

  23. If blogging were religion, you are the presiding deity. Great blogging dude..

    There are so many things that fun(ny) blogging is to so many people, that it is sometimes forgotten that you are one of first and foremost a blogger of unparalleled ability(wrinkled forehead), dedication(phew…) and mind(wiping sweat) to have survived till date.

  24. Ashok..

    You seem to have folded space-time to let all above events unfold in one particular day.. ;-).. one incident i remember not happening when u were a bachelor

  25. Wonder why this post has only these many comments so far !!! This is the most hillarious out of all 3 … amazing ! I wonder how you manage to be in this mood 24 X 7 …

    Keep going !
    Ashok: Usually posts that deal with something contemporary (like Mile Sur etc) tend to attract commenters because people usually have something to say. Fiction rarely does. It’s more of a read, like/dislike and occasionally comment. Damn, it almost sounds like a theory that I could turn into a whitepaper 🙂

  26. I’m a newbie to your most excellent scribbles. Very glad to have stopped by and found such brilliance. You are making your contribution to the world.

  27. Btw, Enterprise Troublemaker is currently in trouble; nothing at the scale that the original Enterprise faced quite regularly in its inter-galactic sojourns, but significant (serious?) enough for you to want to take a look. I think. 🙂

  28. Superb!

    Are you married now? If so, you should write about a day in a married man’s life – the Outlook reminders to pay bills or buy grocery, phone calls in the middle of meetings “tell this auto-driver the way to …”, etc.

    Or you should write one from the perspective of the manager – how his socks got mixed up, his stupid team couldn’t attach a file to an email and just when he retires to his cabin to pick his nose in peace and plan a marathon meeting to punish the team, the fire alarm goes off …. and when he comes out, he finds his brightest and best engineer (ahem) lying under his desk, exposing a gaping hole in his pants.

  29. This is something IT pros would easily relate to. The everyday interesting happenings in our ‘eventful’ lives. The one too many attendance registers, coffee vending machines, ‘security’ men, the inaccessible plug point… LOL all just typical ‘features’ of an IT office.
    Cool!

  30. You have an amazing command over the language mate. In each line i have read from your blog, i see a wodehouse-ian touch. Why don’t you embark on a book? Will sell for subtle humor even if it is light as a feather. When some useless IIM A grads quit their jobs and write bestsellers at the drop of the hat, I think it’s time some one like you challenged the status quo.

    I love it

    1. Outstanding I should say 🙂 enjoyed similar experiences in Times… thank God I don’t have to put up with that corporate shit any more …
      Great talent keep it up …

  31. “Suppressing a desire to throw my machine out its own namesake”

    beautiful line.
    Love your stuff, discovered it because of Ebert’s tweet to your creation museum post

  32. It’s a nice blog for everything. If you don’t visit this blog you’ll miss something. Hello Everyone, You can earn $5 to $500 daily or $more from freelancing or outsourcing without investing $0. But the questions are where and how. But I have made it easy for you. You can learn full details and start earning today. So, why wait. Join 2 millions community. Feel free to get the earning freedom at http://bit.ly/gWnjvr

  33. Surely a nice blog for everything. If you don’t visit this blog you’ll miss something. Hello Everyone, You can earn $5 to $500 daily or $more from freelancing or outsourcing without investing $0. But the questions are where and how. But I have made it easy for you. You can learn full details and start earning today. So, why wait. Join 2 millions community. Feel free to get the earning freedom at http://bit.ly/gWnjvr

  34. bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha :D:D:D omg, this is hilarious :D:D:D

    Why I asked. Rules he said. It cracked me up every time i read it. :D:D Arigato sensei :D:D

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