JournalismPakistan.com May 16, 2017
I visit a successful businessman the other day and we are talking of things and wild imaginings and he says, okay then, 10 minutes are up, off you go. And he ushers me out, polite but firm.
No tea, no coffee, pure bizzness.
Ill-mannered or sensible?
Seeing as how some visitors during peak office hours murder time I think it is absolutely splendid.
There you are running behind the clock, deadline looming, inspiration having done a runner, the muse having fled if you get the drift, swamped with work and this head peeps from your door and asks, busy?
Naaah, just sitting here doodling, all this paperwork is for pure show, like the harassed expression on my face.
No, not for you, your minute is an hour. But what do we do, we grin foolishly and say, of course, come on in, I’ll work late tonight, can’t resist you.
If it isn’t the head popping in, it is the office gossip. Was just passing by, thought I’d pop in and chat a bit (Chat a bit, are you nuts, why didn’t you just keep walking, why have we employed you, you never seem to work). Every office has this traveling salesman bouncing along like a rabbit from one desk to the other.
Then you have the visitor who asks for tea and now he won’t go till he has sipped it with agonizing slowness and you want to strangle him and he says, uhmmm, nice tea, one more cup will do fine so he has stretched his stay and now he is asking how the fam is? How are the kids? Haven’t seen the better half for some time (who talks like that in 2017).
Oh please, push off but no, he isn’t going anywhere. There is still the ‘must get together soon’ statement to come followed by the ‘how’s the golf’ question backed by the inevitable ‘did you hear about Sushmita’ remark, you didn’t really, the whole town is talking about it, where do you live man, you must go out more often, too busy working.
Plead guilty. I strangled him, your honor because he then started telling me off-color jokes and there is a limit to my patience.
The bad news merchant ensures his stay by telling you who’s down, who’s out and who’s in trouble. Said with that deadly mix of concern and malice: you heard, Ravi lost his contract, poor guy, he is in bad shape (at this moment Ravi could lose his marbles, I don’t care, I am trying to get rid of you, what about poor me).
Don’t forget the apologist. You free, you sure, I can come another time, if you are busy just say so, don’t want to disturb you (you already have, now stop whining and state your case) I am disturbing you aren’t I, I can wait outside till you are less busy (oh, shut up already).
All of us have met the person who strings the beads of a dead conversation because he doesn’t want to leave. So what’s new? Tell me more? How’s life? What’s up? Been traveling? Didn’t see you at the Khatwani dinner? So, what else?
So get lost.
His close cousin is the caregiver. He blackmails you emotionally. You look tired, stressed, cool off, circles round your eyes, you must learn to relax (I will if you leave now, at once).
The one who goes up my nose is the guilt-monger. I made that word up without any help from anyone. He’ll trot in, sit down without so much as by your leave, as if we were at the club on holiday morning and say, hey, big shot now, huh, no time for little us, can’t even get an appointment with you, with VIPs that’s what happens, can’t fit in us mere mortals.
And now you are forced to say, no, no, no, what nonsense, always have time for you, don’t be silly, tea or coffee.
Ten to one, he’ll say, a glass of water first?
Where is it written we can’t throw such people out? Our workload would reduce, time saved and we wouldn’t have to endure this meaningless babble.
Whichever side of the desk you are on, you know several of these people and you have your pet painful ones too…next time one of them visits, slam the door.
(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)
Pakistan Observer, December 17, 2016