27 December, 2013

Bring your kids to work

I find this particular office culture of bringing your kids to work to be a rather pointless affair. I also think it’s an embarrassing affair. I’ll take my office and what I do for a wage as an example, I’d actually be embarrassed to bring my kid to work and show the child what I do (or ‘don’t do’ if you go by the performance rating). I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I enjoy the safe work environment; adequate support in terms of transport and the opportunity to do what a vast majority of society consider ‘an honest living’. It’s just that most of us would rather be off elsewhere earning a living doing something else which we would be more proud of.

Let’s try and fathom the notion that I have a wife and we have a kid. I bring the kid to the office. The child is unexplainably excited to see the place that dad goes to for a long part of the day and its where dad gets money to buy me all the nice toys and fattening food. In the child’s mind, that place must be awesome because why else will dad go there. It clearly is something he loves doing or else why would someone get so worked up about it if things were not proper. And dad plays guitar and takes me to all these wonderful rock shows, and introduced me to Deep Purple while my friends are listening to some fellow called Beeper. And dad is so imaginative at home when he plays with me and the toys. He does voices and stuff. He explains everything to me, plays football with me, supports Manchester United. He must be doing something way more awesome at work.

And slowly, as we walk through the gates, reality starts sinking in. Fancy buildings and all, but all dad has is a tiny cubicle that he shares with 3 other people. There are lovely lawns outside, but he’s not allowed to sit on them. There are so many ponds and little pools, but he’s not allowed to dip his feet into them on a sunny day. So much open space and dad sits indoors. What’s wrong with him? Maybe dad is doing some awesome work, but he just sits there looking annoyed at his computer and furiously types away all day. Every now and then he gets into this thing called a conference call and is visibly disturbed after that. There are times when he receives a call and he runs off screaming ‘yes sir…yes sir… right away sir’ and he makes me sit in this cubicle where I am told I cannot speak loudly. Also, there are no games on his computer. He also does not have any cartoons. 

My child will wonder as to why my wife and I force it to study hard, work hard, learn so much and tell it about the concept of unlimited possibilities and then discover that I do “THIS” for a living. It will perplex the child. The child will not have anything proud to say about the work I do at the office to its friends. While one of the other friends whose dad didn’t waste time doing engineering or MBA now manages cricket teams or rock stars, or their dad pursued a career in arts and is a musician, or how one of the other dad’s is an actual scientist and develops awesome technology used in rocket ships, this dad comes to work and looks at a computer all day long. 

Why would my child ever consider me to be a hero? They would rather look towards uncles and aunts who are doing awesome things in their lives…. And also making money off it.

I’m sure such days would be awesome at companies that make things like motorcycles or guitars, you could show what your company did and that kid would be thrilled. If you worked in a company like Mattel or Cadbury, your child would go crazy with glee. A child would surely be excited by its dad who worked at a truly creative place like an ad firm – all those people drawing and all those colours. It’ll even be cool if you had your own restaurant and stuff. But how do you get a child excited about enterprise software? And worse, I’m not even the guy making the enterprise software.

I remember when my dad would take me to his workplace. I used to love it. He’s worked at some pretty fun places like Coca-Cola. It was so amazing to see how all that coke was made. He worked for a newspaper too and it was fascinating to see all those people going in and out in a hurry, not to mention those huge printing presses. I also loved the office he worked in that managed numerous smaller businesses like fertilizer, fisheries and more. I always thought I would have a job in such a company where I could show tangible products. But now all I do is market ‘comprehensive end-to-end robust turnkey enterprise-grade software solutions’. (PS: the child just passed out due to lack of oxygen to the brain)

 Today is one of those days where I’m forced to re-look career choices in a new light. Not that I have options or a path set out, but if I ever move companies, I should look for a job that my kid would be proud to go and tell all the other kids how awesome their dad’s job is. Until then, I’ll remain safely single and irresponsible.

PS: Did you just notice that I’m assuming I’m at the same job in the same office given that the possible timeline for this particular ‘bring your kid to work’ incident will happen at least 15 years from now? Dear HR, please note – this is indicative that I am a ‘long term career’ sort of person okay? Potential Mrs. Murthy’s, please note – this is indicative that I am a ‘long term commitment’ type of person and am comfortable with the idea of children okay?

PPS: See how I quickly turned that rant of self-pity into a potential match…job and matrimony?