Petty boss? Don’t do it behind his back!

In my previous post, I talked about this petty boss. I’ll continue with him, but I think it’s more about us than about him.

Not being a coffee drinker, I was never in the habit of stepping out for coffee. One day, my colleague (who reported to this petty guy Mohan) called my extension and asked, “Hey, is your boss around?” I said, “Sure; do you want to talk to him? Then why don’t you call on his exten…”

“Nooooo!” my colleague protested. He continued, “My boss is not in town, so I thought…in case your boss is not around, we could go downstairs and have coffee.”

I said, “So? We can still go down and have coffee; that has nothing to do with my boss’ being in his seat or not. In fact, I’d rather do it in his presence so it’s no surprise to him if I do it in his absence. I definitely don’t want to do it the other way — not going for coffee when he is here, and going only behind his back!”

My boss, who sat right next to me, overheard the conversation (not that I was being hush-hush about it anyway). He was tickled and he said, “What? It’s a crime for Mohan’s boys to have coffee? So they need to do it only in the absence of their boss? What a pity. Well, Nandita, I now order you join your poor friend who is dying to enjoy his coffee!”

Here’s why I was in favour of goofing off in the presence — rather than absence — of the boss. A guy like Mohan anyway had spies (petty bosses almost always do), so he would get to know whenever his employees played hookey — the employees were just kidding themselves. Now, even though my boss was not petty, if he ever got to know I was doing this only in his absence, what would happen to his trust in me? It was fine that he knew me for all my flaws — being feisty, being ruthless, whatever — no surprise element there. But I didn’t want him to think I was a chameleon.

Even if Mohan had been my boss, I would have stuck to the same approach. Anyway, I guess we all do what makes us comfortable — my colleague and I retained our respective approaches to the issue.

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