It was the first day of the week. I had just returned to Thrissur early morning from Kannur after my weekend trip to home. As usual, I reached quite early to office. It was mid-2006 and I was just months into my new job, so I was never late, at least on Mondays. It was a new place for me, and a new team, quite unlike my previous job assignment, and I was thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.
So it happened, this Monday, 8:30 AM, I was sitting at the Customer Service Desk, relaxed and checking the emails that landed in my inbox during the weekend. There was one more hour for the official office hours to begin. It was then that my boss entered the office, looking quite animated and over the top, for the start of the week.
“Good morning” – he wished me.
“Good morning boss!” – I wished back full of beans, to show that there was no tiredness of the travel and weekend blues in me.
“So reached office early huh?” – He asked, smiling.
“Yes boss! Monday! Fresh and ready to hit the battlefield” was my rather sardonic reply, trying to impress a bit. After all, there’s always a bit of brownie points to be scored everywhere.
“So, how was your training?” – Next question from him.
And this stumped me like a wrong one that spins off the leg side and hits the off stump. Like the ball of the century from Shane Warne that got Mike Gatting out in the Ashes of 1993.
It was he who had gone to Hyderabad on a training session for the entire week, comes back early Monday morning, and asks me how good the training was! Suddenly I was as dumbstruck, just like Gatting was after being bowled by Warne with the all time best leg spinning delivery. I did not know whether to cackle or snivel. Was he joking? Or was he trying to put me through some sort of test? You never know, he was the boss. So if was in his rights to ask any question he wants, and it was my duty to answer it.
For few seconds, I was thinking what should be my reply. After all, one should be very careful while asking questions or replying to bosses. Corporate etiquette says that “Boss is always right”. So, I summoned all the guts in my heart and body and asking him a return question as the answer to his latest query:
“Boss… but I think it was you who had gone for the training…”
“Click…” Somewhere in the environment around, I could feel and hear the sound of cricket ball dislodging the bails. Like a searing yorker from Brett Lee that had hit the wickets of an indecisive batsman. This question had him like a yorker that hits the middle stump. He suddenly looked quite puzzled and perplexed.
“Absentmindedness… Damn!” I could feel these thoughts flowing through his mind. After all, didn’t look good, being in a funny situation, facing your subordinate.
Gathering his wits, he replied – “It was good, it was good, very good. Quite interesting! Maybe you should also go next time they organise this. It was good. Very good”
I was just counting the number of good he was using in the conversation while trying hard to conceal the discomfiture and awkwardness he had put himself in. He didn’t stay there for much longer, and quickly zoomed off talking “It was good, good, enjoy your week” with a wide snigger on his face. He walked straight to his cabin, sank into his seat, and absorbed his eyes onto the computer screen. Not looking right, not looking left, fully immersed into the seemingly infinity looking screen for the next one hour.
The day and the entire week went on well for me. After all, when somebody has such an enjoyable start to the day, nothing can go wrong.
What about boss? Nothing ado about it! Even the great Albert Einstein too had gone through lots of ineptness like this. A fair bit of genius can compensate a state of forgetfulness.