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Smartasses

They are everywhere. You go to work, they’re there; take a stroll in the supermarket, they’re there and go to the gym and they are DEFINITELY there. This is a whole different breed of people. They walk about life with an acquired ease which seems too fake to be natural. They pretend like they’re the ones who are more serious about everything. They even seem to be more serious about your life than you could ever be. These smartasses are abundant in literature and film studies classes. I used to see them around quite a bit and hate their guts, especially because they looked like they had it all figured out.

What triggered this post is that I have been going to the gym at work routinely now. The aerobics instructor is quite good and the routines he makes you do kick your ass. They are pretty intense without a moment’s rest in between. Also, I am the only new person so it takes me longer to keep up with the routine especially since half of the time I cannot hear what he’s saying. Which means you need all the attention you can gather; and all the willpower you have just to get through that one hour. But some people just wouldn’t let that happen.

There is a girl in the class who is a classic smartass. She comes there like she has won the Olympics in the workplace aerobics category and still has to practice with us minions. She is the one who HAS to be the instructor’s pet, which she could be by default given that nobody else is interested in that post.  She adds weird jumps to every move which disturbs pretty much the entire class. She needs thrice the amount of the average space the others would need. She doesn’t exercise, she performs. She has to use weights when no one else does, she has to embark on your space even though there is plenty of space at the back. I mean if you are going to jump around so much and need the entire horizontal space of the gym, isn’t it only logical that you stand in the back-most row where you can be the only one there? Her vigor is more annoying than vigorous. I mess up steps because you never know when the mini giant might step on your toes or knock your specs off with that weird dumbbell movement.

Everybody else who takes the aerobics class is very polite. We all give each other pleasant smiles even if we don’t talk to each other or know each other’s names. But she is a different class. She has a small girl gang, by which I mean there’s another girl she hangs out who undisputedly gets the title of VSA (vice smartass). The two of them do the exact same things. You know the girls who always look a certain way and have a certain set of parameters about how you should look and carry yourself in public places.

Anyway, my point is that even if you find these people everywhere and even if they are supremely annoying, they also provide a good conversation initiation point. This does make me a classic biatch but who cares when you can take in everything you can about such people: all the peculiarities, all the weird body language and then go home and enact over a glass of wine. Makes me seem like a really sad person, but don’t discredit the relaxing power of bitching. 😀

Overcoming Bitterness

This post is sort of a pep talk for myself. So feel free to completely ignore it. I have begun to realise that if I actually write any conflicts I have, I usually feel a cathartic calm descending over me. Anyway, I started writing this post on Monday but never managed to finish it because of the pain or what I can describe aptly with a Marathi word “satvik santap” I have been feeling.

I have been waxing eloquent about my job woes here and here. So the update on these posts is that I have decided to stay put within my organisation but will be taking up a different role, in a different team soon. The main reason being that as impressed as I was with the other organisation, they could only offer a contract-to-hire for now, which I didn’t think was the wisest thing to doing knowing myself and how I am in the face of uncertainty.

So yes, I am where I am with a slight ray of hope of at least starting a fresh in a completely new team with an almost clean slate. But while I wait for that, I’m left with no choice but to keep doing what has been quite painful for the next couple of weeks. Plus I am left out of a training that would do me so good. I would be able to understand the very core of how content works right from taxonomy and chunking to publishing various versions. What hurts be terribly is that I have been owning ALL the content for which the training is scheduled, since the last 2 years. I have created it from scratch, maintained it thus far, have put up a brave face while defending it before several teams (although in the inside I wanted to run away to a corner and cry). I know everything about it inside out. And when it was time for me to take it up a notch and learn more about it and about how I can create a strategy for it in the future, I was conveniently left out.

To top it all, my colleague who was sent for the training is asked to have daily calls with me to give me updates on his learning. They couldn’t have found a better way to rub the episode in my face. I have no problems with the colleague by the way. He is the best work-partner ever. We totally rock our team of two and he is more than just a colleague. He is like a big brother always looking out for me. He is himself a deserving candidate and there is NO question about why he was sent. The questions is why I wasn’t sent. And this is something that both of us are confused about. Neither of us has any clue how suddenly he came to be in the loop to be trained on something he has barely worked on. Every single day he mentions that I’d have loved it there.

Anyway, I have been dwelling on this since Monday and now I am D.O.N.E. I have to finish this post now, but now I am wondering if this was even worth caring enough to write about it. I have no control over this, I cannot and do not want to get into a whole argument mode and ask for answers to questions like why? but why? and the likes. This is one incident of being left out unfairly without having any and I mean ANY valid reason. There will be many. I really really need to grow up and learn to block things out. I have always had a problem of not being able to deal with the present and completing being taken over by negative thoughts, resentment and bitterness. These all in turn spiral into me going into a sad mode of constantly asking existential questions, then going into a deeper rut because what you are thinking and what you are actually experiencing do not match.

And since it’s all about survival of the fittest, I need to be fit. Meaning: Always remember that nothing at work, and I mean nothing, is important enough to actually go through so much trouble and analysis. Then internalizing the basic premise: the world is unfair. Then making it very very clear to myself that this job and any job in general is NOT my life. If it gets too unbearable, quitting is in my control. And quitting one job and not being able to find one is a pretty scary situation, but it’s nothing in the larger scheme of things. I mean there has to be more to life than one fucking job. What do you think?

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Of Corporate Bullshit

The corporate world has always been one of my pet peeves. But on one of those days when pretty much everything you touch turns to misery, it becomes even more “pet”. Today was one such day. I have been down with fever since the last three days. My throat is so sore I can even swallow water, my forehead feels as though it’s carrying the weight of entire South India, my nose is blocked and my hearing has reduced. I have been having a terrible flu-induced body ache. To top it all, I got my period. I haven’t showered in the last 4 days and haven’t come out of my sweatshirt in the last 3 days. My hair is greasy and smells like dandruff. I look, feel and smell like an old person.

So the day the flu attacked me, I messaged by boss to tell I would have to take the day off. I was asked to still login from  home without so much as making a fake attempt at being sensitive and saying get well soon you. I was not in the state to go to work yesterday or today. I still had to work from home. You know because corporate time waits for no man. The exact same thing yesterday and ditto today. I was constantly on calls or in front of my laptop.

Now I agree that part of it is my own fault like my husband took time to explain to me today. So what I do is, when I send a message, I keep waiting to hear back from the manager to actually start my sick leave. Plus I almost have a phobia of calling people. I am the kind of person who is super happy when I make a call and no one answers. This is enough to let the other person know that I called but I get away without having to talk. So my first mistake was not calling. My second was to actually keep working. He said when you’re ill, you’re ill. You’re just writing to the manager to inform not to seek permission. But no! I kept mulling over how I was insensitively asked to login despite my illness.

But part of my anger comes from the fact that I am being categorically left out of a training that I was very keen on and which every person doing my kind of job should be getting. I haven’t yet received one convincing answer to this. If it is rating based, I got the best rating out of all the team members. This seems like a petty issue to most but it’s pretty big for someone who is still relatively very new to the corporate field. Plus I will keep feeling restless till I understand the logic behind this: Is it because of my gender? Is it because of my location? Is it because of my inexperience? (but then how was that overlooked at the time of handing over hell lot of responsibility, which I completed btw), is it because of my newly acquired married status?I don’t even want to ask anymore because all answers will belong to what I call the “Corporate Bullshit” category: We have other plans for you, He will come back and train you, we want you to handle production and the likes. What about what’s best for me? I would still understand if this came from a person who worked in some similar capacity before But no, all these statements come from people who have only just begun to see that the job I do is a pretty important function but are yet to fully understand it even though they “manage” it.

Another thing I never understand is “annual feedback/reviews”. What’s the point anyway. You have already decided my rating, you call me in to discuss, ask me if I agree with it. If I say no, I’m going to be read a whole list of expectations I failed to meet. Only all the expectations are going to be so vague that I, the naive idiot that I am, am going to have nothing to say. In fact it’s in my best interest to say nothing given that ratings NEVER change because employees didn’t agree with them. Also it’s pretty much a given that if you score the best ratings one year, you are not going to score that next year…mainly because that’s how corporates keep you on your toes.

The same with approving leaves. I mean what’s the big deal anyway. These are legitimate leaves that come as part of your benefits and pay package. Why make such a big deal about approving them then? I have discussed this with my friends who report to non-Indian managers though. And our collective observation so far has been that as far as these benefits at least are concerned, non-Indian managers are a better deal. Probably because the existence of hierarchy is lesser there than here. I don’t know enough to generalise but it may also be that they have the boss-reportee structure more for the purpose of making work more efficient. My best friend currently works in Germany and the bosses there are actually called in for questioning if anyone reporting to them is seen working overtime more than thrice a month. So the managers there make it a point to not let that happen. On the other hand, not agreeing to work over-time even when it’s not really necessary (when there are no immediate deadlines) is seen as insubordination here. Ditto with saying No to anything. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that saying no to do work that isn’t part of your job description is a terrible idea because most people around you are doing it to be noticed. This in turn sets wrong expectations making normal working hours seem criminal.

Anyway, all I needed was to vent out.This is not going to change. On the bright side, I am still better off than a lot others who work in even more unstructured environments, under bosses who take out all their personal, marital, familial, sexual and what not frustration on the people who report to them.

Enraged-with-self rant

Every 5-6 months I go through a phase where I cry about not having any good quality. No, I’m not saying this so that people could read and leave comments about what a great person I am and humble at that for saying that I am a horrible person. If anyone did that, I’d feel much worse. I am writing this to vent out all the anger I feel about myself.

I suddenly realized yesterday that I actually have no redeeming quality apart from the ability to look at myself as a third person would and then methodically say what all is wrong with me. But the redemption quotient becomes more futile because I never do anything about this self-knowledge. On the other hand, I have an endless list of irredeemable qualities: anger, rage, snap judgements, impatience, acting on impulse, extreme hatred for a lot of things (the hatred is not unjustified in most cases but the intensity is). And this is not my first self realisation. It’s a regular bi-annual one. Not once does it strike me to even go near the idea of doing something to the way I tend to think. Then I end up discussing this with people who are close. If, out of genuine concern, they give me ideas and suggestions; I end up discarding most of them for reasons like: too good to be true, too fake, too pretentious, too popular, too Shiv Khera-esque (I have no idea why I say this given that I haven’t read any), too impractical, too unrealistic etc.

I tend to get angrier with people who are closest. Examples: dad, EM, mum. It’s almost like I’m on a mission to make everyone perfect without being perfect myself. So I have unsolicited criticism to offer for most things that my dad (who by the way is one of the best persons anyone would come across especially for these reasons: I haven’t seen anyone more progressive. He may not have ideas that typically qualify as modern, but he has the unique sensibility of recognizing that people are different and free to choose what they should believe in and live by. Something to me that is a lot more valuable than people like me who simply criticize other people’s personal decisions on a zillion grounds. He is extremely patient and soft-spoken. He has always encouraged my sister and me to be independent through learning skills like driving, living on your own away from your comfort zone. He has never made CC and me do anything we didn’t want to do even if it meant having to forgo his dreams of seeing his children a certain way; he has never shouted or insulted anyone EVER; he has never behaved differently with people just because they are richer or more powerful neither has he behaved any differently with people because they are stupid or plain bad…this is something that has enraged me time and again for I’m a firm believer of Tit-for-Tat ), does and which annoy and irritate to endlessly. I absolutely hate that he is okay with people taking him for a ride, he lets people cut him when he is trying to say something without ever assertively asking the person to let him finish, he never showed any anger against the brothers who mistreated him and his family time and again, he chooses to watch anything on the TV without bothering to change the channel, he simply cannot say no to anyone due to which he often does things which aren’t good for anyone, like eating when you aren’t hungry, he can never argue logically and keeps doing things just because he has been doing them since childhood, he doesn’t mind touching random people’s feet. Another reason that intensifies by anger about my dad is that everyone in the family who sees him as a cool headed person conveniently fails to realize that it is actually very hard to live with a person who never pays attention to what you are saying, who never answers a single question, who never defends his wife in front of his extremely mean and inhuman sisters in law. Every time my mother complains about this, most people in the family fail to believe her or even understand how it’s even possible to have disagreement with a person who is God-like. My point, precisely because he is that way! So anyway, every time I am with my dad I express my rage and discontent on ALL the things that define him, and behave recklessly. I shout, I express disagreement, I snap, I ridicule his choices. Yes, I am a horrible person. No one should be this way with their parents even if their parents are horrible people, let alone in my case when my dad is an exemplary human being.

And every time my parents leave, I cry for hours in retrospect of how I behaved especially with a person who has always protected me, been there with me in ALL my difficult times, given me life and everything else I have, tolerated my idiosyncrasies and eccentricities without being able to identify with them one bit. Then I feel horrible about myself and start verbally lashing about how terrible a person I am. Then I call my sis CC and tell her about how badly I spoke and how I feel terrible about it, then I say the same things to my husband who gives me his routine bi-annual speech about how I don’t have to express every time I dislike something. About how I have the same pattern that I never outgrow. About how I manage to negate my care, concern and love for a person by saying things out of concern, but in such an aggressive and condescending way that makes people want to go away from me. And then I cry more remembering all the times my dad travelled with me, went out of the way to do something for me. Then I cry more and shout and wonder why my dad had to be so nice to a daughter who is so horrible.

This was just about my dad. There are several other incidents too where I withdraw in my shell and refuse to call family members– the same grandparents or aunts who love me to pieces. But I am too uptight to make any compromise on my mood. I simply don’t have what it takes to maintain family relationships, like an occasional call to check on your cousins, a simple one-line message to your aunt. Most of the times, I am too busy nursing my volatile temper and oh-i-am-so-different and I-won’t-talk- if-I-don’t- feel-like- it image. I am just too arrogant to make any leeway for simple things like keeping in touch with family which I’m sure is a strong support in maintaining sanity in the long run. But that’s the thing, because it doesn’t make a lot of difference right now, I just fail to understand that when people call me, it’s not because they have nothing better to do, but because they have a warm heart that has enough space to accommodate care and concern about other people. Because they have learnt the joy of making little compromises for other people. But I’m too quick to judge these as: too interested in other people’s business, boring people with nothing better to do, regressive people who don’t understand that you don’t have to call just because you are family.

Very simply put, I lack the quality to accept people as they are. Especially when it comes to people who are too close and whom I love too much, I constantly tend to nag about the things they do badly or illogically. Anybody who knows me well is well aware of my temper and my inexplicable irritation. And EM always makes sense when he says that if I feel that someone is insulting my father, why do I have to go ahead and insult my father again for letting people insult him, instead I should lash at the person who is doing this to my father. Then I feel guilty and terrible and call my mother and cry and say I feel bad about behaving this way with dad, then I say the same to him. But absolutely mature and emotionally evolved and superior people that they are, they actually end up consoling me. Then I behave nicely for a few months. I consciously count till 5 when I feel angry, I ignore things that bother me. But when work piles up, or I am dissatisfied with my job in general, it tends to rub off on my personal life and I am back to square one. I’m back visiting my bi-annual emotionally fucked up stage. Then I go through the whole routine and then life is fine again until next time this happens.

I don’t even know anymore why I wrote all of this. I have analysed this time and again and decided to take charge and change my perspective and the all-so-negative thought process; but I’ve failed EVERY SINGLE TIME. May be hoping that if people really read this, I’d owe it to them, to change and evolve at least a little. Or may be just as some form of penitence. But truth be told, I am too logical to believe that just accepting your flaws is enough of a redeeming quality. And I know that not doing anything about this is sheer shamelessness and vanity.  Anyway, I had to write this to get it out of my system. I feel a little lighter now and quite ready (at least for now) to make a conscious effort to accommodate more people, just as they are, without any expectations and try and be a better person in practice than theory.