What am I?

I came across this lovely blog post by Sharanya Manivannan this morning: 

The Venus Flytrap: Just Ask Jeeves « Sharanya Manivannan 

It reminded me of a little something I had written ages ago, so I thought I’d post it here.  

 


 

The other day, I was at a family function and an elderly relative of mine asked me for my contact number. I gave him my business card, and the first thing that caught his attention was the strange sounding bunch of words just below my name. Now, for most people, the strangest sounding bunch of words in that card is my name itself. However, this gentleman is the type who thinks Harihararamasubramanian is a perfectly normal moniker, so there.

So anyway, he asked me what my designation meant. I told him that I was torn between General Handyman and Lord of the Rings, and this seemed somewhere in between. He gave me the sort of look he reserves for cockroaches he’s about to kill, then smiled and went to talk to my sister. Who, thankfully, has a simple-sounding designation: Associate.

Since I am predisposed to spending large quantities of time trying to answer questions of earth-shattering inconsequence, I ended up thinking about this problem in my workplace. Why are these designations so important anyway?

In my distracted state of mind, I almost bumped into the guy who was trimming the hedges on our campus. My first words out of my mouth however, weren’t “Excuse me.” It was “What’s your designation?” I half-expected General Handyman, but he just gave me that cockroach look and continued trimming. I put the question to Ratul and his answer was immediate: Plant Manager. He’s held designations such as Executive Assistant to the CEO, so I figured he knew what he was talking about.

It made sense. And what is more, it opened up an entire universe of options. If you’re the guy that operates the fax machine in your office, you could be Associate Vice President, Corporate Communications. Given the current market scenario, this might well be true in a lot of investment banks. If you’re a security guard at an ATM, you could say you work in Fiduciary Access Control. If you’re the CEO, you could call yourself Vito Corleone.

In my happy, delusional state, I even wondered if I should send the idea to Scott Adams as a suggestion for his next strip. But before I could do that, my broadband connection went kaput and a Customer Service Executive helpfully informed me that she would pass the problem on to a Technical Support Executive who, in all likelihood, would take two days to fix it.

ps: Every once in a while, I plan to post something “off-topic” on this blog. This is the first of that lot. For an explanation of the category this post is filed under, please see the panel on the right hand side.

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5 thoughts on “What am I?

  1. Since my Fortune 500 company likes to reorganize us every few months (I’ve had 5 different “leaders” in 2 years) I have given up on titles altogether (and also department names, which just get longer and longer and harder to remember) and I tell people that I’m a Hamster on the Global Hamster Wheel of Commerce. Somehow, that seems always accurate no matter what is actually going on at work. And probably will be if I switch companies too.

  2. True. I think it’s a universal description. In the financial services, especially, where everyone above Assistant Chief Photocopier is a Vice President.

    I actually greet some of my colleagues with “Hello, Hamster bhai” 🙂

    ~r

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