Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Despicable Boss

Disclaimer: This post has no connection with any person. Any similarity is PURELY coincidental.

It was 8 am in the morning. He pressed 2 on the quick dial and that Bob Dylan sang through the empty room…

“Good… Good Morning Mike” came a voice as Bob became silent.

“Good Morning Arthur, How are you?” , he said in his nicest tone, not that he had to pretend too much in doing so.

“Very well sir, How are you doing this fine Monday morning?” , Arthur replied trying and pretty much succeeding in hiding the shock of getting a call at 8:00 on a Monday morning. Call at 8… This had to be bad… Arthur could have done well to begin this week without this early morning call – especially after the disaster o a week the last one was.

“Very well Arthur. Good job last week.”

“Uh Sir?” Did he get it right? Why, rather, what was his boss praising? Did Arthur get a hint of sarcasm? He decided he shouldn’t drop his guard just as yet.

“Good job managing the crisis last week, Arthur. It did become quite a scare, dint it?”

“Oh yes sir. I’ve seen tough times before but never as much as the last week. Well, thank you sir. I try to do my best.” Phew… That was close. Arthur felt the blood rushing back to his numb hand holding the phone.

“Well Arthur, why do you think it happened?”

“Well Mike, the HR policies for the last few months have been changing so much. A buildup was taking place for two months now, since the incident with Hailey.”

“Arthur, but did we talk about the same the last time? You had assured me you would take care of it.” Mike’s voice slightly hoarse and rising.

“Sir, I tried to but did not get any support from the logistics. I had informed the same to you. Even you had talked to Hamish.”

“But did I not tell you to go ahead? Hamish and I had worked out the details. In fact, I worked the whole of the weekend to settle that. Even after that, you have not been able to find a way out.” The exceptional stress and loudness of NOT was unmistakable. Arthur wondered why he ever let his guard down. Why hadn’t he seen this coming? He just hoped, this was the end of it.

“I know sir. I tried sir…”

“Tried is not enough. Or else you haven’t tried hard enough.”

There was a long uncomfortable pause.


“Every time this happens, I have to step in and play the last minute fiddle. Why can’t you get these things done without me? This is the fourth time this is happening. We were lucky this time. Next time you might not be.” His voice was slow and forceful. Arthur knew Mike meant business.

“OMG, I might not be lucky? Why did Mike say ‘you might not be lucky’? Am I going to be fired?” Arthur wondered.

“But Mike Sir, you know I couldn’t have done anything to prevent it. The management pressure is far too much. And…”

“And you need to find a way out.”

“Ok Sir.” Arthur resigned.

“Listen Arthur, you have grown from where they are today. I remember you always used find a way out. I’ve immense respect for the way you work. But then, I also have high expectations from you. I try to help you rise to those, but you can’t expect me to solve them every time you are in trouble. Please try a little harder.”

“Yes sir.”

Mike kept the phone down and had a glass of water. He was sweating. That went well, did it… Arthur was a good subordinate – one of the best he had – high performing and creative. What did he do to deserve such a rude early morning call…!!!

Well, in his defence, Mike was just trying to be a good boss but all he could be was… a BOSS...!!!

Well, now he knew why the adjective “despicable” got associated with the noun “Boss”.