Being in a Govt. service in India has a lot of merits. You are in it for life, if you so choose. If you are incompetent, the chances of getting a promotion or a raise, are exactly the same as that of a colleague who is dedicated and works his ass off. Govt. jobs have a way of lulling you into complacency, like few things can.
And lulled I was. Although not in the way I’d imagined.
This new post that I’m handling requires me, and other recruits, to undergo training. The Boss Man, the Big Fella who handles Important Stuff, was giving a speech on proper office etiquette, and the responsibilities that come with being a Govt. Servant (Don’t laugh).
He was talking about our responsibilities, and duties, (accepting bribes is bad). Everything he was saying, I’d already heard verbatim in other offices, and he wasn’t particularly creative, so it just washed over me, and I started nodding off a little. The dude was monotonous, and had this Morgan Freemanesque voice, and soon, I started nodding off a little more.
Disjointed bits of the speech penetrated my subconscious from time to time, like the regular clickety-clack of running trains.
“We should be sincere hard working officers – “
“Requesting and accepting bribes is bad – “
“Arrest smugglers –“
“Don’t arrest nice people – “
“I want to have sex with Catherine Zeta Jones –“ (Either I’d started dreaming at this point, or The Big Fella really liked Catherine Zeta Jones)
And then, it happened.
As colleagues struggling to keep a straight face would later tell me, it was loud. It was abrupt. And, it caught the attention of The Big Fella, who FINALLY stopped talking. `
My lucky day.
“You, boy, you there – “
I woke up from my siesta with Catherine with a start, to find the Boss Man staring straight at me. I tried to look small and insignificant.
“You –“ he said again, this time pointing at me.
I heard sighs of relief from both sides of the conference hall. Apparently, I was not the only guy who was lulled into sleep by His soporific narrative. But I was the one he noticed. To be fair though, I was the only one who snored. And it was loud. And abrupt. Damn those cigarettes.
It was like a judge proclaiming a sentence.
Thou shalt not sleep.
He looked down at me with righteous indignation. I looked up at him with what was hopefully an expression of contrition. The image of Catherine Zeta Jones in spandex clung to the back of my mind stubbornly.
“Why are you sleeping?” he thundered, waiting for a response. His pride was obviously wounded. I had cast aside his pearls of wisdom in the worst way possible. I had snored, loudly and abruptly.
“I was sleeping because I was bored. I was sleeping because you are talking a lot, without really saying anything, and I have a touch of ADD exacerbated by your soporific voice. I was sleeping because I’ve heard the same damn speech a thousand times before, and you are not very creative. I’m sleeping because Morgan Freeman –“
He interrupted my mental monologue.
“Well?” he repeated, inserting menace into his voice.
He was obviously not going to let it go. I smiled a smile that conveyed how ashamed I was of having interrupted his narrative.
“It’s not you, it’s me”, I wanted to say. But all that came out was a strangled “Imsorrnottyme”, that did not make much sense, obviously.
He was goaded by my apparent lack of contrition, and opening his mouth again, he said:
“Have you not had breakfast?”
“No”, I replied quickly, finally glad at being asked a straight question, although I was not sure how breakfast factored in to this discussion.
He paused. We’d reached an impasse. We’d already established that I had fallen asleep, and that I’d not had breakfast. He looked at me. There was fire in his eyes.
“I’ve met several energetic youngsters in my time.” He said. “Most of them are performers, achievers, doers with ambition and energy. Every so often, certain people – pause for effect – come along that give all these other youngsters a bad name. I remember, in my youth- “
And Morgan Freeman was back again.
He entered into a long winded narrative, the gist of which, I presume, was how disappointed he was with people like me. I arranged my face into a look of perpetual apology. But this dude had no intention of stopping. He obviously loved the sound of his own voice. He kept on, and on, and on, and soon, my eye lids grew heavy, and the clickety-clack of his voice had me nodding off again, despite myself. Disjointed pieces of his speech seeped into my subconscious, like the bowel movement from a constipated stomach.
“When I was young –“
“Some people are a waste of space –“
“I remember the time when –“
“Hi sexy, where were you? I missed you. So where were we?”
He caught me nodding off again, and this time, both of us were thankful that I did not snore. I had slept, while he was giving a speech about why it was bad to sleep when he was giving a speech. To his credit, he acknowledged defeat gracefully. He cut short his speech, thanked us, and bid farewell.
I get a weird feeling that my career in this office is over before it began. It’s a good thing I won’t be staying here for long.
Today, I’m the guy who snored.
“Dispatch this file to Krishnan. “
“The guy who snored.”
Serves me right, I suppose.