After the pulsating India-Pakistan semi-final, I watched a brief match bulletin on a TV news channel. At one point the screen lingered on a shot of a beaming Sachin Tendulkar. “What a man,” said a friend of mine who was with me at the time. “Someone should build a huge monument to Sachin…”
Which is when I suddenly realized something.
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If you look at major cities all over the world, you find many of them populated by monuments to all kinds of professions. Firefighters, doctors, soldiers, priests, kings, queens, artists, musicians, explorers, politicians, freedom fighters, Ambedkar and so on.
However there is not a single monument dedicated to that most ubiquitous and unsung of individuals: the regular, run-of-the-mill office goer. Not one city I know of has done anything at all to record for posterity the central role in society that is played by the cubiclist.
But you and I know that without the sales manager or HR assistant or accounts executive our modern lives would come to a grinding halt. Who will slash HR budgets so that poor quality office chairs will be ordered, driving employees to seek medical help with doctors? Who will send the emails in fluorescent purple Comic Sans (blinking) that will gradually turn employees to God?
Exactly. Life would become meaningless, if not impossible. Yet have you seen even one little statue of a somewhat overweight fellow in semi-formals sitting at a computer with a fake excel sheet opened on top of Cricinfo? Never.
This must change. Immediately.
I have spent the better part of Thursday thinking about this. And now I would like to present a rough blue print for a comprehensive monument. Since my plans are quite ambitious, there is plenty of “incentive” for state and Central PWD departments to take this up seriously.
Details, in brief, are as follows:
Location: The monument will be built in a major Indian city with excellent access to all other infrastructure for visitors’ convenience. Potential locations can include Bangalore (i.e. Hosur), Delhi (i.e. Gurgaon Sector 546), Mumbai (somewhere in Andheri, perhaps within a traffic jam) or Chennai (i.e. Chennai).
Transport: Visitors will be ferried to the monument location via a network of shuttle buses. Visitors will be picked up at convenient timings from locations all over the city. For instance, in Gurgaon a potential pick-up point could be on a deserted road behind an abandoned shopping mall, next to an ominous Maruti Omni with tinted windows, at 5.13am. The outsides of the bus will be decorated with bold, uplifting statements such as “We are this monument’s greatest assets” or “I am proud to be visiting this monument. Thinking of coming?” and of course “If this bus is over-speeding, please pray for us”.
Dress Code: From Monday to Thursday all visitors must come in full-sleeve shirts, formal trousers and formal black shoes. Friday will be an official “Friday Dressing” day when all non-client-facing visitors can wear casuals. Unfortunately all visitors are client-facing visitors.
Design Elements: The monument itself will comprise a large 12-sided dodecahedronal platform. That is one side for each hour in an 8-hour workday plus four extra due to unpaid overtime. This marble platform will be chest-high and on each side an object of cubicle significance, carved out of stone, will be placed. Next to this object will be an explanatory plaque. These are a few suggestions for objects with plaque statements in brackets: An email server (“Server is now working. All attachments above 23KB will be blocked. Sorry, server is now down.”), a receipt for a 12-person dinner at McDonalds (“Kindly bifurcate this bill into expenses for clients and for employees in order to submit for Board of Directors approval”), a small bowl made of cheap transparent plastic filled with dry fruits such as raisins, cashews and thermocol balls (“Happy Diwali”), an empty space (“Coffee machine has been removed due to economic downturn”), and small pieces of paneer floating in a bathtub of crude oil (“Staff Mess”).
In the centre of the platform will be a monumentally tall flagpole from which a picture of a BlackBerry— not latest model and with the “U” button missing—will flap in the breeze. This will be called the “Industry Standard”. According to press releases the Industry Standard will be 150m high. But this is a gross over-statement. In reality it is only 72m high.
Opening Hours: The monument will be open from 9am to 5pm. Unless there is any urgent work, in which case it will be open indefinitely. Visitors will need to swipe their tickets at the main entrance. But only for the first week. After this the door will be left open to save time.
Food and Beverages: Visitors will be provided with meal vouchers. Each visitor will be provided with Rs 50 worth of vouchers in a booklet comprising one Rs 10 coupon and 160 25-paisa coupons. Sandwiches start at Rs 53.
Finally, pricing: As a subtle touch visitors will be not charged. Instead they will be paid for visiting the monument. On entry visitors will be promised Rs 10 per head when they exit the complex. However at the exit they will not be given this reward because of “lack of team work” or “not visiting monument up to potential”.
I am planning to approach Warren Buffett for funding.
Cubiclenama takes a fortnightly lookat the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org