Friday, December 16, 2011
It was another typical Monday. Rows of cubicles were filled with sounds of feverish typing on the keyboards. It was a busy day at the office and there was lots of work to be done. Everyone was working hard. Everyone… except Charumathi. She was busy whining as usual... about the traffic, about the weather, about 'all the work' she has to do, about just about everything.
Her managers, Venkat and Santosh, were fuming, trying hard to keep their cool. Even the usually calm Venkat was visibly upset.
"We’ve got a real problem here, Venkat. We have to do something!"
"We will, we will. Calm down." said Venkat, trying hard to console Santosh.
"When? This has been going on for too long already. She spends all day complaining, gets other people to do her work for her, and then complains that she has too much to do. This is getting to be too much!"
"I know, I know. We’ll come up with something. (short pause) Tell you what, let’s set up a meeting with her next week, and we’ll get to the bottom of this, ok?"
"Alright, fine" said Santosh begrudgingly. No one hated "Charu the Complainer" the more than he did. He despised her carelessness, her incompetence, her indifferent arrogance, pretty much everything about her. He’s not one to be impressed with just a pretty face. He labored on the rest of the week, fixated on the meeting to come, when could he finally Charumathi have it!
The following Monday arrived and it was business as usual. But something was different. There was an eerie silence in the office. There were no sounds of complaints screeching mercilessly through the air. Finding this development rather strange, Venkat and Santosh instinctively headed straight to Charumathi’s cubicle, only to find her missing. They searched for her all around the office and inquired everyone about her whereabouts but no one had seen or heard from her. Both Venkat and Santosh were totally perplexed. Finally they went to the HR office and spoke to the representative there. The representative gave them the shock of their professional lives!
"Miss Charumathi has left the company."
"What?!?!" said Santosh and Venkat almost simultaneously. Both were totally exasperated.
"Yes, here are her papers. She turned them in last week."
How could she just leave without saying a word?!?!, they both were saying to themselves. But they carried on with business as usual, chalking up this unfortunate event to be a blessing in disguise. If nothing else, they wouldn't have to put up with Charumathi's constant whining.
The next Monday rolled forward. As Venkat and Santosh began the weekday, they both got an even bigger shock than before. Charumathi was back at her desk! Santosh went directly there, looking totally confused. I must be hallucinating, he was thinking.
"What are you doing here?!?!"
"What does it look like? I’m working, of course" said Charumathi arrogantly.
"I can see that. But why?"
"Because it’s my job"
"Since when?!?! We all thought you left the company already!"
"I didn’t leave. I just went on vacation for one week."
"Yes" said Charumathi, looking at Santosh like he was an incompetent fool.
"If you were going on vacation, don’t you think you should inform someone beforehand?!" asked Santosh. He was totally pissed off and exasperated by her attitude.
"I did. I turned in my AVR form two weeks ago to HR."
Santosh just couldn't believe that she didn't inform her teammates or him or Venkat beforehand. He was about to go off on Charumathi, but suddenly held back. It was at that moment that he realized what had happened. He dashed straight to Venkat’s office. As the two men chatted, loud roars of laughter came from them both, which lasted several minutes. After they regained their composure, they headed for Charumathi’s cubicle.
"Charu, you need to know something. The ‘VR’ in AVR doesn’t stand for ‘vacation request’" said Venkat, barely able to control his laughter.
"It doesn’t?!" asked Charumathi, clearly looking worried.
"Nope. Take a closer look" said Santosh, also grinning. He showed her the form she filled out and pointed to the bottom of the page.
Charumathi looked at it nonchalantly at first, but then noticed a crucial detail she had previously missed. The words she dreaded stared back at her: Application for Voluntary Retirement!