Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sid Shoulda Said - Part 2 - Kruger Ganley, Then and Now

I’m feeling positive about an impending promotion. Last Friday, my boss asked me out to lunch. Well, to go together and pick up lunch from Sarvana Bhawan, to be precise, but that’s almost as good, definitely a signal. Then he got an important call so I had to go pick it up for us both. But why must I worry about a free lunch gone expensive, since what mattered was the signal, and that, as you’d agree, remains intact. I know that because he also complimented me yesterday on my work migrating the trading books to the new platform. “That was helpful”, he’d said. I’m actually a statistician working with market and macro data, so this was not, in the strict sense, a part of my responsibilities, falling clearly as you can tell in the domain of IT professionals, but it wasn’t terribly difficult and the whole exercise gained swiftness by orders of magnitude if I collaborated with the IT guys, so I figured why not. I can’t see how this isn’t exceeding expectations, unless the expectation is that I set up technology, do accounting, trade billions and serve chai and butter-toast to everyone while they play Oprah in the comments sections of Humans of New York.

So, yeah, it’s all looking good. Bonus and promotion announcements are still a month away, and my match dot com profile is already half-ready. In fact, what’s pending is just putting up my pictures, but, of course, that is the all important part. I do have a couple of nice pictures of mine from 2009 and 2010, and with just a little retouching, I should be all set. Uncle Baburam’s daughter Madhuri was very gracious about offering to “do amazing things with these pictures” at no cost, and although I’m quite tempted to take her up on the offer, I think I’ll hire a digital makeover expert from U2RHot for eight hundred bucks. What can I say, I’m not fooling around this time. And Madhuri should be focussing on her studies, Kindergarten is a crucial class.

You wouldn’t guess it from looking at me now, but my first six months at Kruger Ganley were a dream. I started at this job on the 23rd of June 2009, about two weeks after the graduation ceremony, and exactly four months from the day I’d started dating Swati. It was a phenomenal year, 2009. Everything about that year was perfect. If I left a problem in an exam because I’d have no clue how to solve it, I would later discover that the problem itself had being scrapped for some trivial linguistic ambiguity in the way it was written. This ball I hit out towards the hostel windows on the second floor, while playing cricket on the narrow alley next to the building this one time, went straight to the singular window without a pane, thus saving me the huge fine I was going red with dread about as the ball made its way up the projectile. Nothing could go wrong. Nothing could go wrong in the crazy unbelievable way that I now regret why I never dabbled in gambling or sports betting while it lasted. If I were ninety years at the time and left for a morning walk in a fit of rebelliousness and trembled on a rock, cursing everyone I ever knew in my head in the microsecond I imagined I had left with me on this planet before I hit the ground, a hot, top-naked girl would have come running from the woods, stopped me from falling, and kissed me passionately for no discernible reason. God was that kind of kind. 

The day I got the job, I got myself five Park Avenue shirts, one for each weekday. I would show up at work early, and smiled at everyone as they came in, just as uncle Baburam had advised. People seemed to like me, I stayed late and got everything done faster, taking workload off other people on my team who had been here a little longer, and have since all bought yachts and mansions and left the firm. My boss was supportive and treated us often, but I have to say under a different boss I might have learned a wee bit more. Most of his mentoring revolved around giving me such illuminating pearls of wisdom as “It is what it is”, “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do”, and “That’s what it should do, you’re right, but the reality is it does whatever it is it does”. He could spend an awful lot of words explaining things which were explained just as well in zero. During meetings was always on display his unique ability to talk for an hour about nothing except what he’ll be talking about for the rest of the hour, until the hour was over, and we exchanged pleasantries and left. Was this the secret to multiple Brooks Brother suits while paying for your kids’ piano classes at the same time, I always used to wonder. I only stopped when he was fired a couple of years ago. The new boss, let's call him Aurangzeb, has proved to be very hard to impress. In the last two years, he has only taken me out for lunch once. That was two months ago, at Suburban Tadka. At the restaurant, when the waiter turned towards me after taking his order and I was putting on my greedy smile, about to blurt out the most expensive dish on the menu, he butted in and ordered something for me entirely on his own discretion. “Just what I’d wanted”, I remarked heartily. The waiter gave me a look I will not go ahead and describe, before turning back to him, clearly aware of his only customer that mattered, “So how spicy would you like it, high, medium, low? Medium, I suppose?”
“Yes, medium.” said Aurangzeb.
“Ok, sir”, said the waiter and began to leave, when he was stopped again.
“Wait, wait, wait. Actually, do very medium. Infact, very, very medium.”

That is not the sign of a man who doles out promotions easily.

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