Office Office - "I do not take tea"
Office Office - "I do not take tea"
In the morning session, she had completed a few important tasks of the day for me. It had slipped out of my mind, a communication I ought to have sent that day. I was trying to call her to my office to give dictation of that important communication. She was not coming down for quite some time and she did not give me any reason for doing so.
I called up my boss and tried to ask whether she has been given any special job. He said she will not come. I did not realize, how much deep trouble I was in. I also did not know, what the problem is. That communication was very urgent. I tried to reason out with the boss. He said someone else will come and take dictation. I did not understand this reaction but was more determined to complete the task in hand as the client was waiting for a suitable response on an important issue.
The lady was very efficient. I wanted to dictate few things and would have asked her to fill in relevant information from the file. It would have taken me few minutes to dictate/ explain the contents and she would have completed the job in next one hour, before she called it a day. If another person comes, that person would have taken longer time—which could have been fine for me—and I would have spent considerable long time to explain the communication to new person. Moreover, I would not have been sure, the communication would be finalized in one go with new person. Finally, I felt it appropriate to complete the task on my own as it would have been much faster than explaining the job to new person.
My son was waiting for me to take him to swimming pool. The swimming pool used to operate in 45 minutes of batch schedules. You can enter late but you would be allowed to swim for lesser time as we had to vacate the pool for next batch. If I do not take him in next few minutes (pool was ten minute drive from office if traffic is reasonable) it would have to be next batch schedule. I still had five minutes of work left. Telephone rings. I ignore as I am under time pressure. I finish my work, close my computer. My son is happy, we are about to leave, boss barges in.
Boss says, he was calling me to discuss something important. I say, work would have to wait for tomorrow. What he wants to communicate, he may please do so on telephone after one hour—after my return from pool. If it necessary, I will come back to office to attend to any work which cannot wait till tomorrow.
He tells me, HR chief was here. HR chief would like to speak to me tomorrow at 10. I said fine and left to attend another task in hand—driving to swimming pool. I was praying, there would not be much traffic, as we were getting late. My son was chattering about his achievements in swimming. How well he is able to dive, how fast he is able to go….. We were in time and we got engrossed in the pool forgetting everything that was happening in office.
Next day I forgot about the appointment and had a different meeting with a colleague which extended without me realizing it. One of my other colleagues came to the meeting room and told me, boss is calling me. I realized my mistake. Quickly concluded the ongoing meeting, rushed to my office. There were two messages on my table. One from HR chief and other from my boss. Both were telling me to rush for the meeting. It was already 10:16 hours.
I could see three (Manju, Das--boss and Daruwalla—HRC) people in the office on entering. Greeted them good morning and apologized being late.
Boss: (in upset tone) You do not give importance to any other job than you think is important (it should be true with anyone. Else, no one will do their job first and it would invariably get postponed). We are waiting for you for past 20 minutes. I had told you yesterday, before you left.
Sorry, boss. I got involved in a meeting which got prolonged without me getting realized. To be frank with you, I totally forgot about the meeting. (This kind of bindas--care free--attitude made the boss angrier. In other words, do what you feel like for the mistake I have committed. I do not care is meaning of my statement he must have inferred). Else I would have managed to come in time. Now let us come to subject of current meeting. I am ignorant of it and have not prepared.
To this, boss looks at HRC.
HRC: Did you say “doodh piyegi (she will have milk)” to Manju?
I replied (like Tathacharya of Tenali Rama series) yes, I said that. What is the problem? Then I realized what this meeting is about. In the morning session (yesterday), tea boy gave Manju tea. She refused it. I casually commented, she will not have tea. Doodh piyegi..She sulked but did not say anything particular at that time and continued with her work till completion. She had become mother only recently and she felt demeaned by my use of words.
HRC: This is exactly complaint of Manju. A senior person like you cannot use such words, especially to a lady colleague. If you do not see a problem in it, I am sorry, we do not think you can be part of such responsible organization.
Look, Daruwalla, it was just a casual remark. I need not have said that but I did. It has already happened. You have right to take necessary action that HR manual prescribes. But I owe an apology to Manju for hurting her feelings. I turned to Manju. I am sorry Manju. You are like my younger sister. I did not mean to demean you. It was just an off the cuff remark. If it makes you feel better, I can apologize in public or in writing as you deem fit.
With these words, I looked at my boss (and HRC) and said: If this is the issue is, you may please initiate action as you deem fit. I have nothing more to add.
After two days, I had received a paper which declared
“ I apologize for having said what I said to Ms Maju Tamhane on 13th May, 1992, Tuesday around 10:30 hours. I will not repeat such mistakes in future”
with space for signature and my name written below.
I corrected last sentence to “I will refrain from hurting feelings by making casual remarks”. Signed it put a date and sent it back to my boss.
I thought it is end of the episode. Working was back to normalcy.
We had a function organized by the company where spouses were invited. There I shared the incident with my better half after introducing Manju and her husband. They laughed and my wife laughed. I thought everything is hunky-dory. How wrong I was.
When I was did not get annual reward for my work, I went to boss and questioned him. He reminded me the “Doodh Piyegi” incident. I got angry for my boss being so naïve and resigned.
My super-boss (boss’s boss) called me. He told me: I am overruling HR on the issue of reward to me. In fact Das was vehemently protesting HR view point and supporting my promotion.
I will never know, what transpired behind. Was it HR or Das who were stumbling block. I had hurt both the systems and people by being too frank and care free.
This frankness and care free nature of mine have brought me laurels and brickbats. I do what I feel is right. If I realize, I have made a mistake, immediately I have tried to correct myself. If I had hurt someone because of the mistake even unintentionally also, I have apologized immediately without considering my position. I will take consequences of my action, as I receive. I believe in “Karmenyevadhikaraste….” philosophy of Gita. Even if I had not believed, I could not have done anything to influence result.