Guest Post : The 40 hour week – Part 2


<< PART 1 >>

In about an hour and a half, we had our bellies filled with wine and food. It was Rakesh’s turn to crib about his work this time. We all took turns, but from the extent of the stress he faced at work, it appeared that he had earned the right to the floor. We had all been there. He ranted about his unreasonable manager who had made demands that cannot be fulfilled within timelines that cannot be met while maintaining a quality of work that, considering the other parameters, was close to impossible to achieve. The repercussions not meeting his supervisor’s expectations would reflect on Rakesh’s performance review and in turn on how much money he made in a month.  All the while, Vicky and I sat there and just laughed, as friends are wont to do, at Rakesh’s misery. We never steered the conversation towards any of the serious questions that would potentially address the situation. We were there to have fun damn it, and that’s what we were going to do.

If we were to start pondering over the reasons as to why we worked our jobs, the possibility of never doing anything else for the rest of our lives and the fact that as time went by, we would realize the futility of the situation and by then it would be too late to do anything else to improve our situation, our day would be ruined and by god we were not going to let that happen. So, to us, it was satire, our own brand of dark humor and we enjoyed it.

The restaurant had certainly delivered on their promise of great food. A little pricey, but hey that’s why we worked and made our money right? It was time to watch a movie. It was our ritual every Saturday: sink into those big armchairs in a multiplex and watch a movie all the while reveling in postprandial somnolence. The movie was a good one too. And when it was done we came out of the theatre happy and content. It had been a day well spent.

It was time for the long auto-rickshaw ride back home. We weren’t ones to drink and drive. Through all of the chaos that surrounded us, we kept our conversation upbeat. We were still a little inebriated from the drinks in the afternoon and I must confess, it helped us stay upbeat. When I finally reached home, I knew it was time for a shower. I needed one to function, not that I had much to do. So, off to the shower I went and the steaming hot water felt like a blessing. The thing I enjoy most about a shower is that it somehow has the power to induce thoughts that you would normally never give heed to. It unleashes the eccentric genius in all of us, or so I have always believed.

As the mist fogged up the mirror, I could no longer stare at my spectacular self and therefore I moved on to thinking about the happenings of the day. I thought about Rakesh’s situation. It was something that everyone stuck in the vicious “40 hour a week” cycle knew about and encountered sometime during their tenure. It was terrible how supervisors had unreasonable expectations from the people who do the actual work and how not meeting those ridiculous expectations would have a direct effect on one’s livelihood. Surely, they are not to be blamed completely for this.

They have superiors too: people who are driven by blind ambition bordering on greed. These people, who sit in their luxurious homes and expect the underlings to do all the work, share none of the profits excepting the measly salary they give to them.

These were the people that made policies in their monstrous organizations that took away any semblance of a life that their employees have. These people who expect to turn their underlings into robots who do the same thing over and over for no specific purpose that benefits the underlings themselves. These people who expect their employees to sit in one place, from morning till evening with little time to spare for their personal lives. These people who know workers can be bought off with measly perks like being able to watch a movie once in a while or have a nice meal giving them the illusion of indulgence. This had caused regular, middle class employees to endure long commutes, extended hours, unattainable goals and the repercussions of being unable to meet those goals.

The hot water started to cool down. The geyser had run out of it as my shower had drawn on too long. Suddenly, I realized that the subject in my thoughts had faded. Who was I thinking of again? Was it Rakesh or Jishu?

The resemblance in their stories was uncanny. The influence held by the powers-that-be over them was resolute and unshakable thanks to the situations in which they were both placed. My head was getting crowded and the water was almost running cold now.

I had to conclude in a hurry as to who I was thinking of. Sadly, I was out of shower time. I was sure, as I turned off the water, that I didn’t know the answer.

And as I write this, I would like to ask: Do you?