And just like that, another week has passed. And another weekend is upon us.
This morning, as I woke up feeling that electric thrum of “column-writing day” pass through me, I began to wonder about Mondays. Now I know that Monday is the last possible thing you should be thinking of on a Friday morning.
But being an office culture columnist, I usually find inspiration in the deepest, darkest, blackest depths of our cubiclist lifestyles. And when it comes to fiendish cubicle items, nothing is as deep, dark and black as that first conscious thought on a Monday morning.
Surely you know that feeling when you wake up on a Monday, rub the Sauvignon Blanc from your eyes, check for any new tattoos, and then suddenly realize: “Oh no. Office. (Insert primal scream here.) Goddamnit. Why did I not die in my sleep?”
Going to office
(I often wonder what Monday mornings must be like for people in powerful places. How do high-profile leaders such as David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, Barack Obama and Oommen Chandy cope with these pressures?)
Yes, I deliberately left out our prime minister there. I think I know exactly what happens to him. On Monday morning, the official national alarm clock goes off in the prime minister’s bedroom, and he jolts out of bed screaming: “INFLATION WILL REDUCE IN MARCH, GROWTH WILL ACCELERATE TO 10% IN 2013! PERPETRATORS WILL BE BOUGHT TO BOOK! LEAVE ME ALONE, PLEASE! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
(And who has the energy to say anything else all day after that outburst?)
To this day, many, many weekends since we’ve been married, the missus still wakes up almost every Monday morning, walks over to my small steel cage in the corner, pours ice water over me, and asks for a convincing reason to skip office.
I have many.
For instance, “passport verification fellow is coming today” is a classic excuse. In terms of mystery, subterfuge and popular dread, passport verification officials rank right up there with the KGB, the Priory of Sion and Kingfisher Airlines customer care. Who knows when they come and what they seek? I am yet to meet a single office superior who does not fall for this one. “Oh my god. Best of luck with the verification. Don’t take tension and have glucose water every 45 minutes,” is what they usually say.
Also, three months later you can use this again with a straight face. Because it is perfectly normal for them to conduct post-issuance verification as well.
For a more esoteric reason, you can try this: “Boss, I can’t come to office today because I have lost vision in one eye.”
Don’t laugh. I have a perfectly good rationale.
The fact that cubiclists lie about sickness is well known. Who hasn’t laughed out loud in an office after reading one of those “high fever, sore throat, and also little bit death in the family since last night” leave emails? Of course, this usually works. Not because your boss is convinced, but because approving even the most inane sick-leave request is one of the unspoken rules of the cubicle. However, most bosses do keep track of your fake illnesses. And eventually, you will either get pulled up, or find yourself in the list of layoff-ables.
Instead, choose sudden, convincing physical maladies that can also heal overnight. Don’t say you’ve lost all vision. That is trying too hard. Instead say that you’ve lost vision in one eye. And then go to office on Tuesday dismissing it as some temporary blood-pressure thing. Make a mental note to gently bump into things every few hours.
To get stuck in traffic is a normal human tendency. If you are in Delhi around this time of the year, the winter fog should soon begin to wreak havoc on roads. However, execute your plan carefully. Avoid the following:
Sidin: “Boss, I am stuck here in Sector 4. Thick fog. And traffic is jammed. I will be very late.”
Boss: “Can you get to a Metro station?”
Sidin: “Let me try...”
(Tremendous flushing noise...)
Boss: “What is that noise I hear of a large volume of water being released from one cistern-like container into another?”
Sidin: “Hello... hell... hello...signal... can’t...”
Get your basics right. Don’t call too early in the day. That will look pre-planned. Call around 9.45am, by when you’re already late. Always make the call from outside. So that the ambient noise is adequate. And please do sound genuinely upset at the traffic.
When you eventually reach office, don’t slip into work immediately. Scream, rant, rave and throw things around. Express your frustration at the city and its crumbling infrastructure.
Those are just three. I am sure you can come up with many more. Remember that good excuses are believable, have an element of randomness in them, and require no proof whatsoever.
Now I would love to give you more examples. But my LPG gas connection fellow is coming soon, but I don’t know when because he is stuck in traffic on the Moolchand flyover... Wait... why has the music in my headphones suddenly become mono...
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also Read | Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns