Saturday, March 28, 2009

When Miss K Outstripped Me...

The first lessons of professionalism I learnt were...not here. Not here in office.

I learnt it from my house-maid. 

It was at home, back in the days when studies meant getting some time off the rigorous play schedules, and schools meant
a place to sit and conspire and hunt for potential crushes. Our maid was, well let me stand up in reverence and say... Miss K was quite like -- a deep-chilled ice-tea, a deceptive hard fried-toast, a Britney rock-star in her tiny frolicking skirts and broom, a starlet for all her fella workers, a Lara croft on her tomb raider mission, a girl with a villainous chuckle, a maid in prime form...well I pass, she was more than the sum of them all.

Never in her fledgling career Miss K would've had her mistress whipping her ass off and she letting it go without a storm, a soap-opera episode. Never there was a day when she hadn't made her yells register in each corners of her workplace -- unfortunately my home. But what would she do, dirt befriended her so much so that she must leave a trail everywhere. She would just dither and wiggle around the rooms, like a mice on an ultimate safari in a refugee camp. For her little age, order in a home was still something precocious to understand. And she made sure, with a steely conviction, that rooms be left beautifully shabby. Yes that's the first work discipline -- thou must make yourself conspicuous wherever you work, even if you aren't doing anything useful (or just anything, for the faint-hearted).  

Miss K was one unfailing prima donna of her art, the soul-love queen of her many workplace kingdoms. She just loved to snivel, fight, run, stomp, snatch, throw, pose, overhear, cry, complain, cajole, croon, curse, care, chill, cringe, cram, cower -- all dutifully in one single visit of an hour or two, with a meticulous regularity of everyday that would even make Forrest Gump shy. Which brought me to my other lessons. Thou must stick to your basic instincts however red-tape your work-processes are. Thou must trust your every little emotion you affect at the workplace, they never lay wasted. Imagine the last time you winked at the receptionist, or the time when you growled unnoticing your boss was behind. My son, they project you as a calm victor, a sentinel of your own liberty. Decency also has a limit, like indecency.


Miss K also acted with a lot of carte blanche. She never flinched from 'owning' any household material, from the sofa cushions to her TV cartoons to the uninvited lunch and dinners. Don't get me wrong here. A sense of ownership and authority is the first sign of a noisy harmony, of a blinded belonging and of unconstipated relationships -- that can be cherished in no other way. That's something about organisational behaviour for you. That's also something about pride and possessiveness you own for your work, however much you loath it. Miss K also milked her feminist rights to the best of her imagination. If she had known, she would've surely celebrated, in those steamy times as it were, had Bill Clinton not been acquitted in the Monica Lewinsky lawsuit. Or better if she was just aware how to reach court for her own little scourges. Miss K was the easiest one to get in trouble with undoubtedly the most pacifist kind of her gender-counterpart. Oops! ignore this part as any learning, no one is perfect after all.

Everyday Miss K and I would run into some kind of a crusade. A scientific surety it was. Let alone her mom who replaced
her occasionally on duty, Miss K commanded a huge patronage even from my mom -- owing to her tiny age and tinier build, which elevated her to a princess of cuteness persona. Lets take just one example. Having found my books displaced to a new kind of disorder, hitherto unknown to me, I lost no second for a, well -- legitimate (wasn't it) scowl...
"Why the hell do you touch my books" That was like clipping a bomb's fuse. Poor me, I wallowed at my success for the last time.

"Books? Which books? I don't know any books..." She retorted with missiles "How could I move those big things? And
when do you open them really. I touch them more than you do. You don't even carry them to the school. Do you know how heavy they are? It's me who grapples with your burdens each day. And I know what you do at school without books. Teach me at least I'll be better than you." I was reduced to my illiterate alter ego by then.

Without any letting up, she soon reeled into my mom..."Malkini, he doesn't even let me touch the bookshelf, how can I work
here. Ask your kid to go away when I'm in. Ask why is he tearing them away. If I had them I would grace them prim at least..."

So there I was, an educated, more mature of the two -- succumbing to this midget, unschooled, noisy creature...creature with a monumental attitude. Get the picture
right. She mentioned all things genuine and she was just being herself. And here's the last lessons for you. Thou must know how to correct your counterpart, with right kind of resources, before you can afford to engage in all of such a tirade. Thou must show your partner the bright part of yours and of everything around, even in combats.

But a thing troubles me. Miss K might have been happy primming her books, but she would've been little less so if made to rote in the classrooms instead of crafting wizardry with her brooms. Maybe that's why her mom didn't send her school, for a moment if we forget she didn't have money for it. Maybe the likes of Miss K just know how bootless the education system is. Maybe education just becomes too trivial against their universal adeptness in handling people and workplaces. Miss K was not just a maid -- a class of profession we ignore  so easily; instead Miss K was a maven, a model of every worker's desire.

Image: Gutenberg