By J Sridhar
I am back home after a tiring day at office. It is almost 8 PM, over two hours beyond my normal closing time. I have a uniquely sadistic boss who chooses to fix difficult meetings after 6 PM, most of the time. He lives alone and thus has no empathy for poor guys like me whose children eagerly wait for their Papa to play with them for some time before helping them in their homework.
“The bedroom tube light is not working. Please do something”. This blissful announcement was from my wife, Deepa, as I stepped into the drawing room. I was seething inside. Can she not give me some breathing time before pouncing on me with problems? I called our Quarters Administration Supervisor, Mr. Ganesh. Instead of being supportive, he brusquely mentioned that his indents for tube lights were pending with the Materials Department and he could not do anything till they came. Also, no electrician was available at this time to check if there was any other fault. Frustrated, cursing our Administration, I reconciled to a bedroom in darkness for the while. When a friend called up, I did not miss the opportunity to crib and curse our Administration for their inefficiency and insensitivity. My friend, who was from another project, resonated with me and poured out his woes about their own Administration.
The next morning, I personally met the Head of Administration. He listened to me patiently with an understanding smile. (I insisted to myself that it was hypocritical). However, we took over twenty minutes to exchange our brief conversation. During this period, he had at least fourteen incoming calls and five persons walking in with papers needing his immediate signature. Silently I wondered how anyone could perform his job under such high pressure and irritating interruptions.
Anyway, having made my point and extracting a promise of early action, I came out of his cabin to leave for my site which was about 3 Km away. My driver was ready and brought the vehicle. I got in and relaxed in the airconditioned comfort of the vehicle. Chatting with the driver, I came to know that ten out of the forty drivers employed were on leave that day. I wondered how my other colleagues would have managed. I noticed that nobody had missed reaching their workplace on time. Amazing that with only 75% of vehicles running, someone had somehow managed to reach the staff to their offices on time. I felt it was quite a feat. “Qudos to Admin” said my inner voice amidst resistance of my hostile mind.
I estimated that every day, about 100 persons were reaching their offices and homes on time. The canteen food was always ready and sufficient to feed the onrush of staff at lunchtime. No shortage of any item in the menu, pure drinking water neatly placed on the cleaned dining tables, the television running to lighten our moods. I counted about 60 persons having lunch in the second batch. The first batch would have finished their lunch a little earlier than us. I imagined the effort required to bring in large volumes of fresh vegetables, groceries and other sundries to keep this show going. A massive effort in itself. Bigger than some restaurants, a project by its own right. My hostile mind tried to stifle my inner voice which screamed “Qudos to Admin”.
Back to office after lunch, my mind was calmer and balanced. I called my Stores colleague to check if tubes were available. They informed me that the vendor had delayed the delivery but the goods had just arrived and Admin was informed a few minutes ago. I realized that Admin still had the problem of an absent electrician. I spoke to Admin and offered to take charge of the tube and fix it myself. After all, as an experienced engineer, this should be child’s play for me. Admin gratefully agreed and issued the tube to me. That evening, my bedroom shone brightly so did Deepa’s face. She then started to grumble that I had to do Admin’s work. By now, my inner voice had emerged victorious over my hostile mind. I rushed to Admin’s defence. I roared, “Do not keep looking at faults. Think of all that Admin is doing without our ever realizing it. Things we take for granted. Like reaching people to their office every day on time. Bringing them back home without a hiccup. Did you ever face a water shortage during the year? Did not the genset power switch on within minutes of a power outage? Did we not have the joy of watching your TV programme when all the village households just outside your colony were tormented in darkness for endless hours? Have you ever had to sweat it out in your cabin without an AC? 92 ACs are humming happily all the time keeping you away from scorching heat. 40 cars, 19 buses and 22 trucks moving incessantly; imagine if half of them stopped working because diesel was not provided on time or if Admin couldn’t manage a substitute in an emergency. Think of the endless stream of visitors driving in at short or no notice and expect to be decently accommodated. Or the air tickets that reach your table without your having to move an inch.
My outburst was as much an eye opener to me. I felt embarrassed that I had made such a big issue of one minor failure. Yes, we take too much for granted. Let Admin no longer be a thankless job. Let us recognize that they play a crucial role in keeping us comfortable and effective at work. If we realize the magnitude and complexity of the activities involved operating at clockwork precision, we will develop a heart that will say “Thank you, Admin; you are truly wonderful. Next time there is a problem, count on me to come forward to assist you. We are a team and shall work so”.
Finding fault is so easy but empathy and the ability to count the positives is what is called for. It will help us develop a strong professional character that will lead us to great heights in life.
The writer is from the Materials Department of Alaknanda Hydro Project, Srinagar