By Dushyant Shekhawat Mar. 28, 2018
Are you at that phase of your career when expectation levels are at zero and indulgence levels are set to max? Enjoy it. Save the existential angst for later in your career. The days of this happy, consequence-free existence that you’re too ignorant to enjoy right now, are numbered.
I remember my first day at my first job very fondly. For starters, I was half an hour early at work, a feat I have never managed to repeat in the six years since that historic morning. But the real reason I smile when I think of that day, is because that’s when I was anointed the “office baccha”.
I could show up two hours late and nobody would notice, because nobody pays attention to anything the office baccha does. We no longer live in times when the youngest of the lot is sent off to fetch coffee or is assigned to photocopy 5,863 documents. In modern, new-agey offices, like the ones I have had the good fortune of occupying, office bacchas slink into a corner, stoop low over their laptops, and spend hours trawling the depths of YouTube and Reddit.
If you’re a fresher reading this, stop right now. Immediately go count your blessings. You’re in the charmed phase of your career. And before you know it, it will be gone.
Most people are so caught up in the excitement of entering the working world for the first time that they never truly appreciate the beauty of being a greenhorn. This is the time when expectation levels are at zero and indulgence levels are set at max. The urge to impress higher-ups and score that tasty letter of recommendation often distracts office bacchas from the fact that they can probably get away with murder. In fact, the bar is set so low for you, that you’re expected to fuck shit up. So when you don’t, you’re a champ. At my first job, I emailed a press release to everyone on my team but the copy editor. She stormed over to my desk, demanding to know why the work wasn’t done. When she found out that it had in fact been done, but I was an idiot who couldn’t operate Gmail, her frown evaporated into a laugh.
It’s unfair, the way the bacchas get a clean chit for nearly everything. Late for a morning meeting? Your weak-ass excuses like “I’d to go pick up my younger sis from school” or “I took my grandma for a walk” elicit an unanimous “aww” from the team and you can settle in happily. Screwing up on deadlines? The stressed-out senior with thinning hair is going to take the fall, not you. Vanishing from office for a one-hour smoke break? Nobody notices you’re gone because your net contribution to the day’s output is the square root of fuck-all.
These are secrets I wish I’d known when I was an office baccha, instead of worrying about whether HR would notice my jeans weren’t in line with the company dress code.
Be ready to field questions as inane as “Who packs your dabba?” or “Are you eligible to drink” and as probing as “When was the last time you went on a date?”
Such is the life of the office baccha – a happy, consequence-free existence that you’re too ignorant to enjoy properly, sort of like the life of a well-loved pet dog. The dog doesn’t realise how good he has it, with people on hand to take him for walks and literally clean up the shit he leaves behind. Instead of appreciating his sweet existence, he’s busy stressing about issues like whether he’ll ever catch his own tail or finally sniff the butt of that strangely familiar-looking dog in the mirror. Given how most HR departments (and landlords) won’t allow pets, office bacchas become workplace surrogates for pets seniors wish they could own.
I remember being the focal point of all this pet-parent attention during my time as the office baccha. The only flipside to this role is that your private life is a matter of open discussion. Be ready to field questions as inane as “Who packs your dabba?” or “Are you eligible to drink” and as probing as “When was the last time you went on a date?” The blow is softened by the fact that no one asks you about work. I’m willing to bet that even at the launch of Apollo 11, the new joinee was asked where he bought his shirts from instead of his opinion on rocket thruster strength.
This weird blind spot of your co-workers’ is going to play in your favour. Unfortunately, the perks of the office baccha position depreciate over time, and before you can learn to properly exploit it, your time in the spotlight is over.
My paradise was lost during one of my epic smoke breaks, while I was on a stroll in the garden opposite the workplace. In the middle of the afternoon. My tranquility was shattered by the sound of my ringtone. It was my boss, calling me back to work. I’ll never forget those fateful words, which brought an end to my glory days as the office baccha.
“The new girl is here. She’s your responsibility.”
I had to head back, my tail between my legs, to give the latest hire a walkthrough of her roles and responsibilities. I knew it was all lip service, as the task of ensuring her job was done would fall to me. My time as the office baccha was over, and hers was just beginning. I’d no longer be able to watch music videos on the sly during our morning meetings, because I’d have to brief her for the day. If she decides to take breaks as long as mine, the task of coming up with an excuse would fall to me. After a few days of this, I began to miss being the office baccha, right down to the irritating, endless questions about what I planned to do with my weekend. What the people asking these questions and even I failed to realise is that when you’re the office baccha, every day is the weekend.