<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 158 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

June 11, 2004

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The Lady Boss

Richa Jha

The Hubby has a new lady boss (LB) and, like most men, he doesn't know how to deal with it. "It's like living like a bonded slave", I heard him call up his mother the other night, "I am tongue-tied at home with the Wifey around, I feel choked in the office with my boss around. Ma, what am I to do?" If he broke down over the phone, he kept it discreetly private- you know it, the sort of melodrama that bonds a child to his mother, more correctly, an adult son to his mater.

Who was he trying to find solace in, I mused? My M-I-L (mother in law) herself is a feared, if revered, boss in her arena of excellence- that's teaching university students. When she zips by, the peons at the university shudder, the pillars shake, the students shiver, and the colleagues quietly skip to another alley. At home, my F-I-L brokers solitude by immersing himself in gargantuan works of scholars, the D-I-Ls have long figured out that a un-questioning 'yes boss' is all it takes to keep the big boss's forehead crease-free. Only the sons, The Hubby in particular, can get away with a bad joke. Even an innocuous joke from any of the rest of us is stretching our luck too far.

We can only play guessing games about what his mother advised him on dealing with two bossy women (let's for a moment assume she counted herself out) in his life. Whatever it was, and looks like she asked him to march ahead on the offensive, it didn't work. He tried it at home first. Had the temerity to suggest that we watch India-vs-Pakistan while my favourite soap was on. I growled, threatened to buy another television, and that was it. End of discussion, and of any further dissent. If he tried a similar tactic at office, God save him from being handed the pink slip.

You will agree that, coming from a LB herself, the efficacy of such a suggestion is doubtful, so I wonder how the MIL couldn't come up with a better solution to deal with this mega-crisis in her son's life. But it also only strengthens my belief that lady bosses at work (and thank the kind Lord, I am not one), after all, are incapable of seeing clearly even if a mirror is held before them. Male bosses are an even more peculiar category- they will not allow a mirror to be brought in, in the first place! But with male bosses, at least you usually know where you stand. Everything about lady bosses is as enigmatic as their nods and more nods.

Given men's disposition to pre-judged generalisations about all women thinking and acting alike, The Hubby started trying his deconstructionist skills at women's one-liners. Suddenly his mail-box was flooded with the forwarded spam circulating in cyberspace on 'what women mean when they say yes, or no, or say nothing at all'. He nearly thought he'd cracked it with the LB, when one day in the middle of the day he calls up distraught saying he'd messed up because he had misinterpreted her firm no as a firm go-ahead on a certain decision!

Good for him! This LB makes him slog, think, stretch, and then work some more. The Hubby look flustered these days. He has already aged ten more years in a short span of a few months, and he walks around like a sapless, lifeless zombie. If you thought life would be a joyride with a lady boss at the helm, after seeing The Hubby, there's this sincere piece of advice- forget it.

I have seen this LB once, from a distance, and was impressed by her dynamism. She could effortlessly win the 'Best Turned-Out Boss of the Year' award. I think, some of the sense of well-being that goes with dressing well has rubbed off on her subordinates too, The Hubby in particular. Now I don't see him stepping out in mismatched socks, he keeps his moustache nattily trimmed, and he's started paying more attention to his mildly greying hair. Last week he nearly went in for a psychedelic streak, I had to remind him that soon his son may be old enough to start competing with him, so the thought be laid to rest peacefully.

It pays to keep the boss in good humour, so we all know. Even my baburchi knows the right words to say to me when I dictate a new recipe to him, "Madam, what a recipe, the best I've taken down ever"! Lately it was made public that the LB is passionate about Hollywood flicks, both old and new. Everyone at The Hubby's workplace has become a silver screen aficionado since, with movies becoming the first language at work. Management pundits have long theorised that it helps to talk the same language within an organisation, as it forms a more cohesive team.

Last night I saw The Hubby struggling with the monstrous Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Apparently, playing Scrabble is the other passion the LB openly talks about. And I have a feeling that she casually mentioned it at lunch yesterday that she was looking for a competent partner for a forthcoming competition. We know what all the employees did last night!





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