Fans of Harry Potter know that dementors are fiends who suck out all our happiness, leaving us empty and forlorn. The final Harry Potter movie, released last month, has a generous helping of these monsters. Potter fights dementors with the powerful “Patronus Charm”, the only magical spell which can dispel them.
All of us who dwell and work in office cubicles know that dementors are not fictional creatures, because they appear in our work lives with depressing regularity. Here, we highlight a few office dementors, and also present powerful “Cubiclus Charms” with which you can battle them effectively.
Expecto Patronum: If Harry Potter went to office, would he have his own Cubiclus Charm?
A bad boss is the worst dementor of them all. He knows millions of foul methods to make your life miserable, and you often feel this is the overarching purpose of his life. He can yell at you, bug you, try to meddle in your work, refuse you the vacation you have been pining for, send you urgent work on a holiday, and be unreasonable in a number of previously unimagined ways.
Our Cubiclus Charm: If you have a nasty boss, gift him tickets to the latest Harry Potter movie, or buy him the DVD. Ask him to watch out for dementors in the film, tell him that he’ll really like them because you think he is one of them. Stay at a safe distance from him for some days thereafter. When you return, you will know whether he has tried to transform himself (which is good) or whether it is time for you to move on (which, under the circumstances, is better).
Late evening meetings
No dementor is more evil than one who calls meetings after 7pm. God intended all good people to be back home (or in other pleasant places) by this time. Even birds return to their nests by dusk. So while family and friends are pining away, waiting for you at nightfall, you are listening to the boss challenging you to come up with new sales or production strategies to shore up the company’s sagging bottom line.
Our Cubiclus Charm: Speak up right at the beginning of these late evening meetings to make your presence felt. Provoke everyone by suggesting that the team should consider at least tripling sales in six months. This will delight your boss. Thereafter, slink out of the meeting very silently; if necessary, leave a notebook on the table to signal your continuing presence. To ensure an invisible exit, you should also seat yourself close to the door, and never next to the boss.
Extreme air conditioners
Wayward air conditioning can sometimes turn our offices into the Arctic Circle in deep winter, or the Sahara Desert at high noon. Under these unfortunate dementor circumstances, you will shiver or sweat profusely, and you may even develop a migraine or mild pneumonia. With central air conditioning being the norm these days, you can’t even switch off the blasted thing.
Our Cubiclus Charm: The best method to fend off extreme cold is a quick nip of brandy or vodka, if your office is the type that turns a helpful blind eye to small hip flasks. Russians do this all the time. On the other hand, if it’s uncomfortably warm, feel free to progressively unbutton your top-most garment or take off your shoes. Based on your age, sex, fitness and hygiene levels, this may provoke various interesting responses in the room, but anything is preferable to slow suffocation.
Lifts which do not work
An office lift which does not work is an early morning dementor. You can stare at the lift helplessly, kick the closed doors angrily, wait for a miracle which will make it function suddenly. You can make suitable references to officials of the administration department, who manage such lift-related matters. All this activity, however, is likely to suck out all the happiness you have begun the day with.
Our Cubiclus Charm: Don’t wait for the lift to restart. Climb the stairs with a spring in your step, because every few stairs climbed is 10 calories off your waist. Regard this as an opportunity for weight loss at no cost.
Tonnes of unread emails
In today’s networked world, hundreds of unread emails in your inbox are dementors par excellence. You are never really sure what dangers lurk in these crowded cyber corridors, but neither will you ever get time to read all these emails, let alone reply to them. Some emails are short, some long, some pictorial, others expressions of anguish—but, generally, they all expect some sort of action or response from you. I have seen harried-looking executives assiduously work their emails in airports, on flights, on beaches, when all of us know that there are happier things to do at these lively locations.
Our Cubiclus Charm: Don’t respond to all emails addressed to you, unless they are of direct or earth-shaking importance. Don’t even bother reading emails which are copied (marked cc) to you, these are sent for reasons which generally have nothing to do with you. If you are asked whether you have read that email of last week, request it be re-sent to you. Keep an hour (and no more) aside each day to read and reply to emails, and forget about them the rest of the time. Once a week, delete all pending mails at a single stroke; inform your colleagues that you do this religiously.
Harish Bhat is chief operating officer—watches, Titan Industries Ltd. He recommends two universal Cubiclus Charms to stave off all dementors: good friends at work, and reading this column regularly.
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