The Cringe Benefits

One of the major plus points of working for a great company are the fringe benefits like free gifts or goodies as we like to call them. You work hard to earn your pay and on top of that once in a while the company gives you something little extra on the side to appreciate the hard word and hard cold cash you have put in their pockets. Just like a happy owner handing out a treat to his pet for rolling over or begging at his command. So when you get a goody it means that you have been a “gooooooood doggy”.

A goody can be anything: a gift voucher, a dinner at a nice place or a box of chocolates. Something you can indulge in without feeling obliged to the company for it. But sometimes the goodies can be so bad that they have to be classified under cringe benefits. Let’s take the example of my employer. I work for a leading multinational BPO, let’s call it Sufferland, in a city, let’s call it Mumbai. I work for them in a technical process for a major PC manufacturer, let’s call it Hell. What do I do? Doesn’t matter. No, seriously! It actually doesn’t matter because, well, I do nothing. Yes, no one has any idea what my profile is, neither the client nor my employers. I just go to office and mark my attendance, wander around helping here and there. Sort of like Milton, that Stapler guy from Office Space, except that I still have my job and I do get paid!

Any ways moving on, this month we were made to cringe twice, thanks to the largesse of our company. Every year when its diwali time, a sense of resignation can be seen on every employee’s face. After all for last three diwali’s we have been getting a box of sweets from the company. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing much except that it is shipped from Sufferland’s head office in India in a city, let’s call it Chennai. It’s a known fact that no lungi-clad dude boards a flight with like five hundred boxes of sweets for us. No one knows how those sweets get here all the way from Chennai. No one knows how stale those sweets actually are. Inevitably they end up in the lap of some poor beggar whose only crime was to bug us at a traffic light or in the stomach of some unfortunate stray dog that was gullible enough to be eating out of our palms. Just hope the NHRC and PETA aren’t reading this!

So this year company decided to soften the blow. This time they gave us all a box of “home” made chocolates. Now home is a very subjective term. After all didn’t Metallica once sing famously, “Anywhere I roam, where I lay my head is home”? Inside the box those brightly wrapped pieces looked pretty harmless but one bite of them and you would wonder if “chawl” would have been a more appropriate word instead of home in this case. Think I am exaggerating? Well I still have two boxes sitting in my fridge, be my guest! Yea seems like my conquest over that dog few months back has ensured that no dog is seen on the road when I walk back home and of course you *never* find a beggar when you are looking for one, especially at 4’o’clock in the morning. Hence the chocolates still exist, slowly decaying as their half-life approaches.

Incidentally our last quarter for the year ended this month too. Surprisingly we didn’t perform too badly and for that Sufferland and Hell decided to punish us with another set of goodies. This time we were slapped in the face with two goodies! And you bet it stung. Let’s get down to the sipper first. Well it’s quite like your regular sipper bottle, except that it has this long thick pipe like thing inside. This “thing” is detachable and contains some top secret liquid. So basically the idea is to shove this “thing” into freezer till, well, it freezes. Then fill your sipper with water or cola or whatever is your poison and then shove this “thing” back in and it keeps the liquid from warming up for some time. Brilliant! Except that it’s made in China. Now I have got nothing against the Chinese people. They are good hard working and honest folk who believe in making everything so cheap that they make every company in your country look like a bunch of blood sucking capitalists, not that they aren’t but nevertheless. But I do think they need to be a little careful about what they put into the stuff they make.

Recently they have been showing improvement on this front too. Few months back they faced severe backlash when toys made by them were found to be toxic. Millions of toys had to be recalled by responsible corporations like Mattel who really care about your children. More recent toys were found to be not really toxic but rather laced with something less harmful like the date rape drug. Now for those of you who don’t know about the date rape drug, well from the time you consume it to the time its effect wears off you will not remember anything that anyone does to you. Get the idea? No, I do not speak from experience. I, umm, let’s just say I just happen to know that. Imagine all the things that could happen to you at any place if you consumed the date rape drug. Now imagine what could happen to you, especially if you are a guy, if you did the same at Sufferland. ::shudders:: Let’s not get into such horrible things; I would like to sleep peacefully tonight.

The other goodies we got were…..hold your breath……*drum rolls*……a set of towels. Oh and no ordinary set of towels my dear but towels with both Sufferland and Hell embroidered across them in big letters. I mean….seriously….a set of towels? What are they trying to tell us? That we need to shower more often? Or is it a subtle suggestion that we already have bunker, bathrooms and cafeteria and now towels too so all we need is to get our clothes from home and we don’t need to go home at all and be in office 24×7? If it’s the former then I definitely second that. People need to realize that body odor is no substitute for a perfume. And people who come travelling in the local trains from far off places need to understand that it is redundant to apply deodorant and all when you leave home because after half an hour or so travel in the local you are pretty much smelling of everyone else’s sweat and yours too. But if it’s the latter then, hell no! Granted that for most of us work is the only excuse we have to escape from home, since we don’t have much of a life, at the same time home is the only excuse we have to escape from office as well! Ah the vicious circle.

And with Christmas just around the corner, looks like we will be cringing in to the New Year.