‘Urgent!’ said the paper the came to my desk at just as I was packing up to leave. At last! It was early days in my working career and, hitherto, I had not had that feeling of importance that comes to a person who has to urgently do something for his office. Maybe it was not that special glow that one gets when one has saved a child from a burning house but it came close to it.
I sat till working out the prices to be charged for the products that a new customer had sought from us, left the paper on my boss’ table and left home feeling like a knight would probably feel after vanquishing a dragon. Unlike the knight, however, it is not given to lowly junior managers to know what the result their efforts had had but that knowledge did little to diminish the feeling of accomplishment I felt that day.
Little did I know that over the next one year I would have a lot of such wonderful occasions. I was working for a boss who was very generous when it came to distributing that special feeling of importance among all his subordinates. If he had a note to dictate to his typist after office hours, he ensured that his entire staff sat late with him and enjoyed the pleasure of feeling the satisfaction of doing urgent work. What is more, he also had this generous habit of calling you to discuss mundane matters just as you are about to leave so that you had ample opportunity to feel that glow. Suffice to say that within six months that special feeling had become so ordinary that I no longer felt like looking down my nose at people who were too unimportant to be kept late in office. How true is it that ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’.
The same boss was also the person who rid me of the unnatural respect for the words, ‘The boss is in an important meeting’. I was once in his room and he was in an expansive mood that day talking of how he cracked CA in his long gone youth. His PA pinged him about some phone call from one of the manufacturing units and he snapped into the phone, ‘Don’t you know I am in an important meeting? Ask him to call half-an-hour later!’ So, now I know all about important meetings!
So, a year into my working life and with all my illusions about urgent papers and important meetings totally gone, I received a reasonably massive file with the same superscription “Urgent’. I opened that file lackadaisically and quickly browsed through it. When I reached the last page my eyes opened wide in surprise. It was the same paper about costing of products that I had sat late for the first time and put up! All that had happened with that paper was that it had traveled up and down my office, seen more people there than I had and returned to me for review. That must have been one patient customer if he was still waiting for the prices of those products!