Monday, March 20, 2023

Squeeze the juice

My earliest memories of this juice-squeezing were of home made lemon juice. Back then (oh, yeah, were you not expecting this phrase to pop up sooner or later?), almost all the cool drinks available to us were either home made or the fresh made ones (though of questionable hygiene) by the pushcart vendors. And sugar being a relatively expensive commodity back then, juices were a treat.

The only fly in the ointment was that my mom used to try to extract the last bit of juice from the lemon. Which meant that the rind got squeezed, too, adding that tinge of bitterness to the juice which is so yucky to the tongues of kids. You hardly dared complain, though, lest you be totally deprived of juices.

This, though, looks like the normal practice of Tamil Nadu at least. I mean, like, when I grew up, I found that the idiom for a hard task-master was one who would squeeze the last drop of effort out of you. ('Kasakki pizhivaan', if you want to know) Though, yes, I have also been told that it is more of a laundry metaphor than a culinary metaphor, indicating the removal of moisture (and, incidentally, dirt) from clothing. I, somehow, preferred the culinary version, perhaps because of my aversion to laundering.

The ways of management always seem to find expression in a humble homely metaphor. And, yet, simultaneously try to also be seriously high-brow as well. You know how it is. You have to be seen as acting like 'one of the boys' but ONLY acting; not actually BEING one of the boys.

And, so, I was not surprised to hear this said while describing a management situation: 'The juice is not worth the squeeze'. In other words, the benefits of a course of action were not worth the cost of that course of action in terms of time, effort or money. Voila! If only they had used this in my time at IIM, maybe I would have been reminded of my mother and have been sentimentally attracted to the course.

But, there is a scary thought that raised its ugly head in my mind. What with this AI bots like ChatGPT doing the rounds, and considering that what I used to do for a living was mainly writing notes, maybe squeezing employees is not worth the juice these days and thus...

Maybe I was born at the right time after all!