My first boss was a huge guy who was scared of his boss.
And pretty much everything else. The boss’s secretary. The chief peon. The heads of the other departments. The women who ran the library like it was her dowry we borrowed every Friday evening.
Actually being scared of her I can understand. She never smiled. And Hitler looked like a jolly little man in front of her. You were allowed only two foreign magazines, and one Indian one. And if it didn’t come back on Monday, you were doomed. Salary cut. Letter to your boss. Memo’s to the super boss. No further library rights. Dirty looks that burnt through your back. And eventually little voodoo dolls that resembled you.
But back to the boss. And the skateboard.
Which came as a prop for a shoot. And then stayed on. Till one day at lunch we decided to use it. By we, I mean mostly D and I. D is a tall, skinny sardar, and I’m well, I’m none of those.
So D and I would get on to the damn thing and try and get it move like all those cool guys we saw in magazines (this is before youtube okay). And then after a couple of days of throwing our arms around like excitable windmills and going into doors and falling off, we finally learnt to stay on.
After that, whenever we got bored of working, we’d pull out the skateboard and try it all around the office. Till the boss saw us.
And freaked. He waved his hands like an excitable windmill that was having a panic attack. And lectured us. In front of everyone. On how to behave in an office. On how to maintain decorum. On how this is a professional workplace, and not a college. On how this is just not done.
Then we got called to his cabin, where he lectured us all over again.
The red skateboard went under our desk and stayed there.
Till an important prospective client came to visit our office. We were told to tidy our desk, the cleaners were going hysterical with the Colin spray, and everyone had come in their best clothes.
The client and his three cronies came walking around, nodding at everyone, till they reached our part of the office. Our boss came rushing out of his cabin to show them around, gushing and waving his hands. The client politely nodded at everyone. And then he came to our desk, where we sat huddled pretending to be brainstorming and working. We stood up to be introduced, and D tripped on his legs, and the chair fell over. Revealing a bright red skateboard.
The client, suddenly, came to life. He grinned a huge grin, and looked at us, his eyes wide and awestruck as he said, “wow... so do you guys skateboard?”
Both of us had horrified expressions on our face. D was starting to turn purple and I was just about finding my voice to say NOOOOOOO, NEVER!!! PLEASE DON’T KILL US KIND SIR.
But before I could the boss turns to the client, while simultaneously patting us on the back and with a jolly laugh says, “All the time. They keep skateboarding all over the office.”
The client and his cronies look like they’ll have an orgasm. As they coo, “How cool. Wonderful. Very creative I can see....”
D and I are rooted to the spot like rabbits, staring at the boss. Who thumps us on the back now and says, “Yes, that’s them. Very creative. And of course we encourage it.”
The client vigorously shakes our hand. We try to rearrange our frozen expressions into suitable cool faces. Maybe add a sneer or something.
And the boss and the client leave.
Five minutes later, the boss comes back and says “well done guys” to us.
And a day later, we get a new client.
And the red skateboard comes out whenever it wants. Mostly so we can demonstrate the whole incident to all our friends at work, and laugh our heads off.
But, here’s the thing, when we started our own thing, one of my partners could never understand how we could play loud music, or allow movie downloads, or people to come in shorts. But apart from the fact that you are your work, and not your clothes or your music, it still works.
And clients still walk in and look at the large Sex, Drugs and Helvetica Bold written on the wall and go, “How cool. Wonderful. Very creative I can see....”
And I still think of my boss and start to grin.
As for my partner, she’s a convert after I told her this story. Last time a client was about to walk in, she started yelling at us to turn the music up. I had to calm her down, saying its okay, they’ll still find us creative, even if we don’t burst their eardrums.
Whew. These born again's.
title credit: the one and only CCR. check out Proud Mary here.