Friday, February 1, 2008

To Each His Own


I did it. I quit my job. It is strange that I can hardly recall any other time in my life when I felt as exhilarated as I am now. It isn’t as if I was facing problems. People around me were good to me, I was blithely oblivious of any office politics , if there was any. My work did not make me slog like an ass- far from that. I had fixed hours of work- most of which I spent surfing the net and chit-chatting with colleagues. It was like one long extended holiday. What more could one have asked for? And yet with every passing hour of this paid holiday of mine I was growing more and more restless. I found myself asking questions of myself that I didn’t want to answer. What was I doing? Where was I heading to? Who am I doing what I am doing for? Do I see myself becoming my boss or my super boss in some years? Would I want to be that? To be there? At first I brushed these symptoms aside simply as the guilt that comes from being happy. After all, wasn’t this what I had been training for all my life? Wasn’t this why I had worked hard in school and in college-to get a well paying job and to lead a comfortable life? And yet, something didn’t quite seem right about it. There were times when I would grit my teeth and tell myself that I was building power plants, that it was a very important job, that it benefits thousands of people, that you have to first play your small role well in the larger scheme of things before you take on bigger responsibilities. I looked at the people around me. I would try for an hour to become the guy who sat next to me , trying to feel the pleasure that he did in perusing over bundles and bundles of pipe class manuals. All I saw was a lot of numbers. I was not averse to numbers. Back in college I used to have quite a bit of fun playing with them, overcoming the little challenges that they presented. But they no longer seemed to be as exciting as they used to be. What had changed? Was it the fact that to crack a sum in college was a job well done and to crack one at job was only a job done? Or was it the fact that they weren’t my problems any more but somebody else’s. Somebody I didn’t know. Somebody who didn’t care. I rubbished this last suggestion in my head. I mean, the world works this way, right? There are big organizations with thousands of people working for a handful of people and they just do their jobs and have to do them right and it wasn’t their problem where their little pieces of hard-work fitted in the larger scheme of things. That was for the “handful of people” to worry about, not the worker- bees. And I was being darn touchy about it. What did I expect? That my C.E.O would fly down all the way from France to India to write me a panegyric?

That’s probably when I hit upon it. I was being a little whiny child who cries foul when she doesn’t get a piece of the cake but who wasn’t there when the cake was being cut. If I want to do things, run things , make things happen, I will have to go and get it. If I want to be an architect, I will have to first stop being a brick- layer. That meant opting out of the rat race. I decided to do something that was my own or to work with a small and closely knit group that had a common cause that it could identify with, than to blindly wiggle my way up in a swarm of thousands to God knows where.

I did not know what exactly it was that I wanted to do. But I knew how I wanted to do it. And I also knew what I did not want to do. My present job. And that’s when I decided to quit.

As I entered my boss’ cabin and handed to him my resignation letter a calm ,hitherto unknown to me, possessed me; the calm that comes from knowing that you’re doing the right thing for once. A lot of questions were asked. Many a portent voiced, with all the intonations and expressions that befit a professional clairvoyant. A lot of unpleasantness ensued. As I walked out of his cabin and announced my decision, not many appeared surprised. I smiled to myself. Perhaps it was due to my reputation of being slightly “aberrant”. As if to break the awkwardness of the moment, they asked me the question that logically followed. “So, what next?”. To which I replied “I haven’t really thought. Maybe something of my own”. A few eyed me with suspicion. As if I was lying. As if I was not telling them what I really was going to do. And the rest simply smiled. The kind of smile they smiled when they shared a private joke, more often than not at something stupid that our boss said with his all-important air.

They each congratulated me and wished me luck. “ You know, when I was younger even I had such plans”, said a colleague. “So what happened?” I asked him. “Nothing.”, he replied.

I stood waiting at the portico of my now ex-office, waiting for two other of my colleagues who were going to join me in our little experiment and who too had quit their jobs that very day. Whether the sun shone more brightly or was it simply too dark inside , I knew not. At that moment my friends arrived, each with his own side of his story, and we were ready to leave. I took a last look at the building where I had spent the first year of my first job. I saw inside a thousand burgeoning hopes, a thousand stifled happinesses and a thousand rents to be paid. “To each his own”, I thought.

We were now walking on the road that would lead us out of the premises. I knew not what lay ahead. The war was on and it was too early in the day to take sides. But I knew that one battle had been won.

5 comments:

rr said...

Very few people have the courage to quit their well paying jobs early in life to pursue something of their own. Still its better to take a few risks early when you have time rather then a heavy load of suppressed hopes and aspirations later in life.

Best of Luck!!

the who said...

right said RR! thank you!

Amit said...

well all i cn say....that abt mayu...dat me and my frnd hs kept a close watch of her orkut pro...and we both hs predicted in 2007 itself that she wll...do smthng extraordinary...and i know she ll...last day also we wer discussing abt her...and again concluded that..the way she is expressing....and roping the words...give u a change to read the blog in one sitting...and u click the topics for some more..well done.....

Amit said...

i left my job..two months back...it was a 5 years of span..smtime i sink down in frustration of being jobless...then i go for her chitchatni...and it is like the F5...of the key board of mine...it refresh me with a new hope and energized me for sm good thngs...

rahul m said...

gr8 that u can put all these things in words ,i m going thr similar emotions now ,i had quit ,tried someting ,it didnt work out,again joined :),will quit again ,hopefully thing ll go f9 in future