Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Compulsive Tutor

He was fatally attracted towards a whiteboard. His response to a white board was quite like that of a dog to a lamppost. While canines, irrespective of their breed, would impulsively lift their hind leg up on seeing a lamppost, our man would lift his right hand to reach for a marker pen.

The similarity between him and man’s best friend ended there. In all other respects, our man drew inspiration from other species. He had an elephantine memory, the walk of a grizzly bear, the vision of an eagle and the appetite of a hog, to list just a few of his zoological characteristics.

Had he not taken up a mundane job with a company dealing in hydrocarbon products, our man would have become professor emeritus of vital statistics at the Fairsex University of Domestic Science.

In the number-crunching game, he lagged behind a Pentium IV computer by just three nano seconds.The dead wood in the company resented his penchant for explaining complex business problems on the whiteboard. But the eager beavers looked forward to attending the learning sessions presided over by him.

Whenever the top management wanted to keep the otherwise under-worked staff occupied fruitfully, the chief executive officer would summon our man post haste to his chamber.

Soon a meeting would be convened in the conference room. Our man, a marker pen in one hand and a rubber swap in another, would take charge of the whiteboard. All the other staff members, most of them grudgingly, would occupy their seats like obedient school students mentally prepared to be at the receiving end of at least an hour-long discourse.

Discourse it would be of course, but with a difference. Even while our professor emeritus rattled out such high-sounding words as “competitive intelligence, SWOT, Gantt chart, PRD, CSD, mission objective, strategy” so on and so forth, he would fill up the whiteboard with charts, graphs, bullet points, arrows, sets and sub-sets in a myriad of colors.

To be sure, most of what our in-house professor uttered got transmuted into Greek, Latin, Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese the moment those words hit the eardrums of the august audience. Equally obvious would be the audience response, which found expressions in unending yawns, grunts, coughs, hiccups or simply a gush of foul smelling wind.

Least perturbed by such overtures from the audience, the professor would continue with his lecture, marking each of his pause with a scholarly gesture –a nod here, a pointed finger there or simply a dot on the whiteboard with a red marker pen.

Whenever such sessions of intellectual intercourse were held, a sense of purpose would charge up everybody in the company. With a smug satisfaction writ large on his lizard-like lips, the CEO would troop in and out of the conference room, leaving behind some unintelligible interjections for the participants to mull over.

The top management made it a point to meticulously maintain the minutes of every session. These minutes, prepared and transcribed by the pool secretary, were printed on the finest bond paper and kept in spiral bound files, the words ‘Strictly Confidential’ and ‘Only for internal circulation’ embossed in red letters on the cover page.

Post Script: While the company retrenched three-fourths of the staff recently as part of its restructuring, the in-house professor has been given a promotion and re-designated as ‘Director Emeritus’.

1 comment:

Aparna Bagwe said...

Nice funny piece, ND! Can relate to that character...