This last weekend I was away on an extended three-day weekend trip with a small group of friends. Which means the usual: sky diving, bungee jumping, snow-boarding, white-water rafting, or extreme triathlon-ing.
In real life we usually make less optimistic plans as follows: trek for a few hours each morning, thereby earning a heavy lunch, followed by some leisurely sight-seeing in the evenings via public transport, followed by a light dinner and drinks along with a movie, board game, or dumb charades. But like most parliamentary democracies that go bust moments after the soaring, optimistic speech by the first prime minister, our plans went off the rails moments into lunch on day one. So we spent most of the rest of the weekend planning meals, eating, and then watching whatever is on TV when it is switched on.
Also Read | Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns
And, as you might expect when a bunch of bankers, insurance types, private wealth managers and solitary journalist start to converse languidly, we soon began to talk about work and life at the office.
They all spoke about stocks and shares and municipal bonds and mortality tables. While I, on the other hand, spoke about some of the burning issues that I have to grapple with each day in the newsroom: such as the difference between its and it’s. (Don’t laugh. At any given time 15-20% of all the employees of a newspaper are looking up the difference. Its a cause of great concern for editors.)
Much later, after I’d come back home on Monday, and while mentally reviewing the trip for the purposes of introspection, reflection and calculation of money owed to each other, I realized something.
We spend an inordinate amount of time whining about the co-workers we dislike and fantasise about slaughtering with stationery:
Irate columnist passes copy editor through paper shredder. “I have no idea whom killed him,” Mr. Vadukut defiantly told police.
But somehow my friends and I hardly ever discuss the co-workers we like.
Why is this?
The more I think about it, the more I realize that this state of affairs is unfair. Or, at least, it is unbalanced.
Surely we should be speaking about our pleasant co-cubiclists as much as we do about our arch-nemeses.
If nothing else this could have a therapeutic affect. Usually conversations about work are negative. They lead to alcohol consumption of the depressed, moping kind that Amitabh Bachchan excelled in.
Instead, what if we spoke about the nice people at work? I suspect that this would perk us up and lead to joyous drinking and copious karaoke.
However, this raises another problem that I would like to touch upon this week: what qualities must an ideal co-worker have?
I have been thinking about this all day. And I think I have arrived at a few defining characteristics of my dream co-worker. Perhaps you will agree with some of them.
Can all these qualities ever be found in the same person?
Can you ever print on a letterhead correctly the first time?
The answer to both questions is the same.
Still, there is no harm in dreaming.
Characteristics of my dream co-worker:
1. He/she will always arrive in office in 5 minutes after me. This will give me time to start my computer, get my coffee and wait. So that when he/she walks past me looking hassled, I can loudly say: “What happened boss? Traffic again? Ha ha. But seriously, please be professional.”
2. He/she actually gets paid only a little less than I do. But he/she grossly over-estimates this difference. Therefore he/she says ego-boosting things like: “Arrey yaar, you can afford brown bread...”
3. He/she miraculously uses exactly the same phone you do. And always carries a charger.
4. You are in-charge of Sodexho coupon distribution for your department. He/she is unaware of the Sodexho coupon distribution system for your department.
5. He/she has lost all the keys to his/her drawers and therefore does not lock up all the Post-It notes and ball-point pens like the other untrusting antisocial psychopaths.
6. When the boss generally asks the cubicle farm “Does anybody know how to make letters blink in a PowerPoint presentation?”, he/she says: “Yes I do!” quickly, before the silence gets awkward.
7. He/she has a very common name such as “Arun Kumar” or “Raj Rajaratnam” so that you can always say: “Oh no! I must have sent the Efficiency Workings Spreadsheet to Arun Kumar in Legal!” When, in fact, you are yet to install MS Excel on your computer.
8. When you ask “Where did you go yesterday afternoon?”, he/she honestly says that they went for a job interview, instead of saying blatant lies such as “I had to suddenly go for a hip replacement.”
9 When he/she says “I think I know somebody who can get tickets for the match” he/she actually means it.
10. And finally, she is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
I’ve thought about the chances of finding such a he/she. Its unlikely.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life.Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org