JournalismPakistan.com October 10, 2014
Why do beauty contest winners always say they are thrilled and never expected to win. If that was so why the devil did they take part. But that’s the way it goes. The moment the crown goes on their head they will say, I am thrilled, I never thought I would get it.
The obvious cliché is one of mankind’s less intellectual features. Take the response to a competition or a vacancy. It is always overwhelming. Whether it is 3000 or 35, the sponsor will always tell the world how gratified he is by the overwhelming response from the public. Doesn’t anybody ever fail at such an enterprise and then stand up stoutly and confess that the response, regretfully, was not overwhelming, it was not even whelming, in fact it was down-right underwhelming and we are going to go back to the old drawing board and will try again.
Like with these chief guests. They are invariably introduced as people who have been kind enough to give their valuable time from their busy schedules and grace the occasion with their presence. This great sacrifice is mentioned in pitch of high emotion. I would love to meet a Chief Guest who comes along because his calendar is empty, he is at a loose end and is particularly grateful that someone has even thought of him. Why can’t they say, ‘Our chief guest was free this afternoon and so cheerfully agreed to come along and distribute the prizes.’ At least the congregation would then not have these visual images of some overworked person being torn away from his workload and being dragged against his will to this function.
Then there are judges of events at such functions and just as invariably they tell you how difficult it was to select the winner because the competition was so stiff and what a hard time the judges had finally coming to a conclusion. No one comes up to the mike and says, well, that was easy, the third entrant was miles ahead of the rest or well, folks we are awarding the first prize to you know who because of (a) his connections (b) his daddy’s position and (c) the fact that his family has donated 20,000 bucks.
Companies sack people and the letter starts off, ‘It is with deep regret…’ And you get the feeling the whole management board is sitting in some sanctum sanctorum, around a green table, tearfully sobbing away as they dispense these missives of departure. If you are that regretful why are you getting rid of them.
Far more upfront to say, sorry, buddy, this is the way the biscuit breaks, you don’t fit, you are not in this frame, off you go now, we are well rid of you.
Instead, after doing the et tu Brute bit they tell you they wish you lots and lots of luck for the future. Thanks, that’s heartwarming. First they yank the carpet from under their feet then they tell them to walk tall.
My bank sends me letters that end up with this exceptional sentiment: ‘Assuring you of our best attentions at all times.’ Touching stuff. Have they ever assured anyone of anything less than their best attentions. Where do they manufacture this sterling stuff. Do they tank up on it every morning, move it, move it, unleaded best attention gives you more mileage. Why is it that not one person ever has an iffy day or is grumpy or couldn’t care less if his attentions have gravel in it.
What if I called the top honcho at 1:30 in the morning with a gnawing worry that I might be overdrawn. Would he give me his best attentions. I didn’t say ‘At all times,’ he did. Have you ever led a crusade. Everyone will tell you they are right behind you all the way. So you believe this canard and swoop off into battle, your lance tipped with righteousness.
And then you come face to face with the windmill of authority you plan to tackle and you rein in your steed and you look to the left of you, and you look to the right of you, and you look behind you. And the field stretches every which way but where have all your soldiers gone. Certainly not all the way. Not even around the corner.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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