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The Inscrutable Boss
by Gargi Choudhury

On the unfortunate date of 11th September 2001, I went for my first interview. My interrogator was the Vice President (Human Resources) for The Software Company. His name was Mr.P.C.Menon. He appeared to be a smart man, until, that is, he started to take my interview, which went something like this:

PCM: So, Gargi, what have you done?

Me (astutely divining he meant my degree and not what I had done in life): I have done my engineering in Computer Science.

PCM: I see. So, is that a Bachelors’ degree in Computer Applications?

Me: No, sir. It is a computer engineering degree.

PCM (still fogged): So, that’s what - a Master’s degree in Computer Applications?

Me (temples throbbing feverishly): No, sir, it is a Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering i.e. B.E.Computers.

PCM (enlightenment, finally!): Ah, you’re a B.E. Ok, ok, that’s good!

(After pausing to think a bit) So, Gargi, how would you rate yourself on a scale of one to ten?

Me (incurably truthful): Sir, maybe about four or five. I have learnt a lot in college but I have yet to apply it to work in the IT industry.

PCM (impressed): That’s very honest! I appreciate that.

Me: Thank you, sir!

I trust the sample given above suitably illustrates the tone of our fascinating conversation. My interview lasted for an hour, during which time I said “I don’t know” to every alternate question put to me. Needless to say I bagged the job with ease, and the next morning, I reported for my first day in office.

Within a fortnight I found out that my colleagues had cleverly labelled Mr.P.C.Menon as ‘Perpetually Confused Menon’ in keeping with his air of eternal bewilderment. That the nickname was more than justified was proven to me a second time very soon.

One fine day, he called me to his office, and handing me The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he said, “Gargi, this is an excellent book for self-improvement. There are three extremely important things mentioned in it. They are …”

And for the next twenty minutes he struggled to remember what he was going to say. I watched him patiently, as he hemmed and hawed and massaged his forehead with two fingers in an attempt to aid recollection. When he finally decided that his memory cells had failed him, he let me go, saying that I should check it up in the book.

After completing six months of training at The Software Company, I left it to pursue greener pastures. When I met PCM for the last time, I was surprised to find that he was quite sentimental. Usually he was stern, but on this occasion he shed his managerial decorum and favoured me with these parting words of encouragement:

‘So, you have decided to depart from us...I’m sure, wherever you go, you will find the experience you have gained in these six months to be absolutely un-valuable!”

I didn’t argue with that!