Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Time For Bread & Water ?

The recession is back. And this time, it seems scarier than ever. The media keeps churning out reports about plummeting stocks, credit crunches, bankruptcy of Companies and even Countries, disaster sales, layoffs and downsizing!!
Speculation is rife. The air is thick with fear and insecurity. Cost cutting has become the mantra of the day as businesses tighten their belts and gird their loins to ride the storm. Desperate times most definitely call for desperate measures.And I was not too surprised when I arrived at an office for a meeting this morning to find only one elevator operational. The other had been temporarily shut-down because the management did not trust its employees to voluntarily reduce the frequency of their rides. As I waited in the lobby, I was all too aware of an orphan telephone in the background which rang shrilly.. incessantly....and most annoyingly. There was no operator in sight....Perhaps he too had fallen victim to the recession. A harried gentleman who was waiting for the lift with me, kept answering the phone. He had an aura that screamed seniority and I was impressed by his willingness to attend to the lowly telephone in no man's land. All the more so when I heard him exasperatedly instructing subordinates to shepherd their visitors in themselves as the operator and day security for the building had been let go.
We, the gentleman and I, had waited 15 minutes before the elevator eventually opened its doors to reveal its insides crammed with youngsters...tighter than sardines in a can. Much to our surprise, none stepped out and the elevator doors shut in our face amidst giggles from the sardines within.
" Did they actually board the elevator on the 3rd floor, ride all the way down and then back to the second floor?" I incredulously asked the gentleman.
" Yes, indeed. The youngsters in this building actually ride the lift between single floors. The staircase is only a meeting spot where they catch up for their cuppa and hot gossip." He sighed deeply " This is the problem with the young new workers of today. The modern amenities that offices provide have spoilt them terribly and they are increasingly unwilling to stretch a little, even when the times are hard. And then they crib and fight when they are laid off. I don't understand why they are unable to realise that they have no reason to expect any Company to take care of them when they are unwilling to participate in the very same Company's survival efforts. "

His words rang in my ears long after we parted.
Back in my office, later on in the day, as I read reports of the now famous Jet Layoffs and the politicians who had jumped into the fray as defenders of the unemployed, I could not help but wonder out aloud how anyone could fault the airline considering the large employee costs that it incurred to keep their flying crew happy. A colleague who overheard me, raised an eye brow in silent query. And I found myself narrating the morning's incident to him.
Much to my surprise he agreed whole-heartedly. " Most of the youngsters of today have stardust in their eyes" he declared " They think their education, regardless of what it is, entitles them for a job, fat salaries and handsome perks. They lack the commitment to themselves - to learn, improve and grow, let alone to the Companies they work in . They are just interested in the easy money and status symbols - cell phone, laptop, bikes... And their arrogance is unbearable. Their attitude is my way or the highway...How does one deal with that?"
I wasn't very sure if this attitude pertained to youngsters only. Money, I suspect, has a way of turning any one's head. A lot of my peers in various industries,used to the good life, have had no compunctions about deserting the ship in search of greener pasteurs. For a moment, I thought about the staff at Jet Airways who had been taken off the roster without any warning. Imagine their horror the next morning, when realisation dawned that the non-appearance of their ride to work was not due to a flat or a break down but because they no longer had a job. Surely no one's arrogance could not stretch so far as to render them immune to the the reality of being unemployed.
"I have indicated to some of my subordinates that if the present trend continues, there will be no increments forthcoming in spring 2009. And can you believe it, they are not only upset about it but they also crib about the fact that our Company has tightened its spend on little luxuries like cabs, power, air travel, etc. How much will it the cutting of a couple of thousands help, is what they ask me. Can you imagine??? Instead of being grateful that they still have a job, they are cribbing."
Maybe, I told him, its time for all of us to realise that we need to forgo the butter, margarine and even the toast. And on that parting thought, I left to book my train tickets back home....
Viva La Compania!


Roopa said...

At least, I know you would'nt mind flying less :). that might be a blessing a disguise!

about the crisis, don't we all know it too well! our coming back to india plan has been indefinitely shelved because of it!

Miaow!!! said...

Well, I doubt the travel will come down...It probably will be structured a lot better which wud help me fit a lot more things into my days....fingers crossed...
And I can sleep on the train which is a bonus... :D :D :D