The Tiger and the Killer-Bee are widely considered to be the most aggressive and violent animals in the world. I say the zoologists are sadly mistaken. These angelic creatures can’t hold a candle to what is actually the most violent, aggressive and territorial animal on earth. Don’t worry, you don’t have to switch to Animal Planet or Nat Geo on your telly to catch a glimpse of this animal. You’ve already encountered him, numerous times. In fact, you might have had an encounter with him this very day.
Where did you come across this splendid creature? That’s easy. You have gawked at him, speechless and stunned at his awesomeness, in a variety of places : government offices, banks, post offices, colleges, universities, factories, just about everywhere. You have known him by a variety of names. Based on the nature and location of his preying fields, members of this invincible species are known as secretaries, assistants, personal assistants, P.As etc.
Don’t let that designation fool you. It might sound like these people are there just to act as gatekeepers or to play second-fiddle to the decision makers, but it just sounds that way. These, are the Gods who decide which decisions the so-called decision makers should be allowed to make, and which decisions should not concern them, or you, for that matter. If you have ever tried to see any officer in any capacity who ranks high enough to have one of them assigned, you must already know what I’m talking about.
Members of this proud species share some interesting characteristics, at least in India. They are likely to be late middle-aged, married, and rich in knowledge encompassing everything from M S Dhoni‘s captaincy to Kim Kardashian‘s pregnancy. They are devoted workers. You’d never, ever, ever find them being anything but EXTREMELY busy. Let me say that again. You’d never, ever, ever find them being anything but EXTREMELY busy. In fact, it says a lot about the ineptitude and lack of perspective of mere mortals like us, that we dare interrupt them with our petty business. However, lack of perspective is not something members of this proud race suffer from. They would never be distracted from their rightful, meaningful business by those pathetic and naive interruptions. No folks. They would always make sure they finish the gossip column from yesterday’s newspaper before they pay any attention to your heartfelt plea about a water or electric connection. They know that discussing the contents and authenticity of Jiah Khan‘s suicide note with their colleagues is far more important in the scheme of things than that piece of paper in your hand which would ensure an education loan for your child. Oh no, you cannot distract them with such childish behavior.
If you really wish to earn their celestial approval, remember, there are no shortcuts to success. When you approach one of them, look adequately humble, or miserable. Don’t try to state your business in order to save their time. They cannot tolerate such uncivilized behavior. Ask about their health and their family’s welfare while they ignore you or abuse you. Once they have vented their displeasure and calmed down somewhat, begin by gently narrating how miserable a state you are in, and how a little generosity on their part would make a sea-change in your life and bring about the salvation and survival of your entire family. If you can manage a tone and narrative that is about three notches above Khaled Hosseini in sadness and pain, you might get lucky and they might actually listen to you. If you can manage that, congratulations, it’s all downhill from there. You would now enter the waiting phase. This means you will have to come back to the same animal with the same pathetic appeal for at least 10-12 days. And then, a miracle might happen. Violent and aggressive that these creatures are, they have also been known to demonstrate the occasional magnanimous act of kindness. They might actually not ask to come back another day, provided you have been going there for 10-12 days at least. If you are exceptionally lucky, you might even be offered a seat. But don’t get your hopes up just yet. If they let you go past them to see their boss, it can only be by accident.
The one thing you should never ever do is cross them, or even accidentally appear to be defying them. The results will be short and spectacular. Noble that members of this species are, they would not eat you. But you would certainly get the distinct feeling that you’re standing in the middle of an African National Park holding a white flag, and about two dozen lions are converging on you.
There’s this friend of mine who, a few days back went to see one of them. The matter was simple enough, or so he thought. The poor guy had applied for a leave. After getting the required signatures of the Head of Department and the Dean, he was sent to the Dean’s office to get the paper stamped by the Dean’s secretary. The secretary in question took one look at the paper and said He would not approve it. That’s when my friend made the first mistake. Instead of disappearing, he meekly pointed out that the Dean had already approved it. The luminary responded with a regal nonchalance that as per norms, the guy should have submitted the application six days ago.
“But my mom wasn’t sick six days ago.” that was the second mistake by my poor friend, who was bewildered by now.
“Is that something I should have known? Do you think I’m a doctor?” came the somewhat strange and considerably hostile response.
“But the Dean…” my dumb pal tried again.
“The Dean? what about the Dean? Do you think I work for him?”
At this, the floodgates burst. I wouldn’t describe what went on afterwards. If you’ve a seen a hungry crocodile at work on a particularly unlucky zebra, you already have a fair idea.
As for my dumb friend, he’s still missing.