I have often struggled with keeping my calm when a weird chat pops up on the office communicator, or there’s an e-mail with no head or tail. By which I mean there is not so much as an opening Hi, nor does the rest of the e-mail give you any clue about what the sender wants. I am still ready to let go of unclear e-mails, because clear expression is a genuine problem that a lot of people suffer from. Heck, I myself have the problem. I find myself beating around the bush endlessly before making an actual point. But one thing I am not is rude, inappropriate, or having a gross lack of etiquette or common sense.
The reason for this outburst is a ping I got from someone in my office yesterday. It’s important to note here that I have not met this person, nor have I spoken on phone. My mere knowledge of him is his e-mail address which was added to a chain I initiated. So when this person pinged me yesterday, I assumed it was something to do with the e-mail I sent. But that was not to be. This uncle simply wanted to chat because he thought my surname sounded like it belonged to the region he happens to be from, or has very close affinity to. Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate people taking the lead in initiating harmless conversations. It builds a certain degree of warmth which comes in handy when you need to get something done asap. The goodwill built over an ocassional “how was your weekend?”, “hope you had a nice holiday” comes to the rescue in such cases. But where do you draw the line?
This gentleman (?!) asked me questions about where I came from, when I joined the company; which I answered very patiently, and good humoredly. He also said we should meet up some time to which I gave my standard “sure thing” response assuming that this “sometime” is a vague representation of time that never comes. But then the uncle asked if I could meet up in a few minutes. I said I was working from home. To which he had the audacity to say that, “Oh I will join you in your home.” He thought this was very funny, but to me it was crossing the line. You don’t get so comfortable with someone you started speaking to for the first time, in your life, merely 5 minutes back. I didn’t respond, but he further took the liberty of saying, “bad girl, you didn’t even invite me.” I logged out of the communicator right after, but it got me thinking about how absolutely clueless about professionalism even adults with decades of experience can be. How hard is it to understand that you simply don’t say some things, especially in a world where there are very well established harassment policies?
I am quite sure that his intentions weren’t flirtatious. What he said was the literal vernacular to English translation of, “kyun bhai, hume to app bulate bhi nahi.” But in a world where you are exposed to internet enough to know of the implications and double entendre behind expressions like, “bad girl;” you just don’t say it, even though you meant it like you would say to a child who didn’t do his homework.
What do you think? Any similar experiences you’d like to share?