Even If You Forget Trigonometry and Algebra, School Still Prepares You For Office Life

Humour

Even If You Forget Trigonometry and Algebra, School Still Prepares You For Office Life

Illustration: Arati Gujar

I

went to St Xavier’s High School, the one endorsed by SRK in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the one with the “naam toh suna hoga vibe”. Looking back now, I realise that St Xaviers did a lot more than make me feel like I was in a Bollywood film. Whoever said that our school syllabus failed to prepare us for real life was more wrong than Warren Beatty at the Oscars. In fact, it was the perfect training ground for the office rat race, and I’m still putting what I learned there to use today.

First of all, there is no way I could reach office on time if it wasn’t for the 7 am assembly. I’m able to make it past rush hour traffic because I used to turn into Flash every morning to reach school. The first period would then be spent battling sleep, just like the first half hour at work. I’d argue it’s easier now — back then we didn’t have the luxury of the coffee machine.

Back in school there was one subject that I hated with all my guts. If the motto of math was to inform us that life is complicated, then it served its purpose. Today, I get the same shudders that I used to on seeing the math question paper when I see forms and paperwork that HR expects me to fill out. But if I could scrape through school, I know I can get through the paperwork.

The one thing that never changes at all is the way promotions function. In school, the teacher’s pet is most likely to become the class monitor, and at work, the boss’s favourite is likely to be first in line for a promotion.

In school you have a bench buddy, in office you have a work spouse – the Pam to your Jim Halpert, the Ron to your Harry, Sehwag to your Tendulkar, Amit Shah to your Modi. A day without your buddies feels like watching Netflix on a 2G connection: a drag. Your bench buddy is whom you’d play noughts and crosses with during a boring period; your work spouse is the one you text silly memes and fart jokes to in the middle of an endless meeting.

Whether it is a start-up or an established private sector company, the CEO feels like the school principal and the team leaders feel like class teachers. It’s the CEO’s job to deliver great speeches, and the team leaders are always in a quandary over how to manage team members. Perhaps office productivity would improve if team leaders periodically yelled out, “Is this a fish market?” like our teachers did.

The one thing that never changes at all is the way promotions function. In school, the teacher’s pet is most likely to become the class monitor, and at work, the boss’s favourite is likely to be first in line for a promotion. The annual appraisal might leave other people in the office feeling disappointed, but I just remember receiving my year-end report card. Other universal truths include the fact that group projects are never done by the group, and teamwork is a myth. Homework was a concern back then, much like overtime is worrisome today. Amid all this, the lunch break is the only time that allows us to forget all the troubles. You may not like someone but that does not stop you from eating the tasty fish curry he brings for lunch.

When you are 13, you look forward to the summer break, at 30, you make money so you can spend it on your vacation – no homework, no emails, and no bosses or teachers breathing down our necks. And when vacations come to end, the post-holiday blues set in. There’s one difference though – my parents don’t have to drag me back to my office in tears. And when I want to feign illness, I can.

 

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