We’re all under so much pressure to have a happening after-work life nowadays. Social media tells us we should all be bicycling to the hills every weekend, or volunteering at a handi-capable people NGO, or clubbing wildly with hot looking people, or teaching our children kick-boxing. There have been movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Tamaasha and the recent Karwaan, which show the office rat as a pale, sad shell of a man, a zombie-like drone, whose bohemian friends have to, literally, kidnap him to “save" him from the hold his soul-sucking workplace has on him.

Matlab, we must look for joy everywhere but at the workplace, because the real stuff of life happens away from the office, which is just some place we go to, to ratchet up the rupees. And once the clock strikes six, we must get the hell out of there—fast. If we don’t, then we’re like the pathetic Chatur from 3 Idiots, the one whom Aamir Khan, and his cool friends with happening lives laugh at.

At this point, can I say something everybody knows but it’s becoming increasing uncool to own up to?

Sometimes, it’s nice to hang around the office after hours.

Seriously! Have you ever bonded with your workplace when it was empty? Just you and it? Maybe early in the morning after you dropped the kids to school and it was too much of a pain to double back home again, so you headed to the office, had a coffee and watched the sunlight filter in to illuminate all the overwritten whiteboards and the lame Dilbert coffee mugs? Or, maybe you pulled an all-nighter, sat in the glow of your laptop screen and ate pizza straight out of a cardboard box? Chatted with the cleaning staff as they emptied the bins and wiped down the work-stations, gagged from the fumes of the insecticide the sanitation guys sprayed, or gossiped with the guards about what they’ve been seeing on the security cameras?

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

In fact, the “Chaturs" of the office always talk about their “pehli raat" at the office with a huge amount of fondness. The food that was ordered, the ciggies that were smoked, how the smoke detecters were disabled…not to mention the virtuous glow that suffused their faces when they finally rolled up to work the next day.

And I sort of get where they’re coming from. It can be pretty meaningful. Like driving down Marine Drive or India Gate in the wee hours. No hullabaloo, no honking, no hurrying stream of humanity, just you, familiarizing yourself with the city and sharing a quiet moment together. An equivalent of a long moment of eye contact, one could say.

It’s the same thing with the office. It’s an inanimate thing of cement and glass and cables and air-conditioning ducts and prefabricated partitions, sure—and yet, come in early or hang around late (please don’t do both, only a total loser does both) and in the stillness and the quiet, you will get this strange sense of ownership, of connecting, of even being in charge.

It’s pretty much a Batman moment. You know when he stands silhouetted against the sky and stares down at the sleeping city he has sworn to protect? That’s what we’re talking about here. You’re the big, black Bat, and the office is Gotham (or, if you’re a rookie, you’re Spidey, and it’s New York).

You have the codes and the keys to the city. It’s quite a high.

And this private moment of super-hero-connectedness with your workplace in the wee hours will show in your body language later, I promise. Without your even realizing it, you’ll get the loping, confident stride of a jungle tracker as he guides mere tourists and amateurs through a dangerous forest. It’s the kind of body language seniors in the company can spot faster than they spot time-gaps in your resume. And they will love you for it.

Just don’t do it too often, that’s all.

Wine to five is a weekly column featuring the random musings of a well-irrigated, middle management mind. Anuja Chauhan is an author and advertising consultant.

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