Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How my boss taught me with a cigarette stick

I’ve learnt the least common denominator of a common normal human being is a good joke.  With the prefix ‘good’ being ‘yourself’.

So I pepper my speeches with an overdose of my fallacies and even those of my family’s and colleagues’. In fact, my local club is so familiar with the people whom I sit, eat, sleep and work with, that they guess my protagonist before I could even gesture.

Recalling one such incident
Here’s a pick from my first workplace that I’ve recounted several times over…

The first editor whom I worked with [am too modestly averse to use the cliché - ‘whom I had the privilege to work with…’]. And trust me, I don’t fool my readers. That’s  against my salt.

Well, he was a gentleman, nevertheless. Always marching in on polished black pointed shoes, thick rimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose, wearing full-sleeved striped shirt and thigh-hugging trousers. Now, that’s something I’m in the process of understanding. Why do men flaunt their figures?  Check this space, I’m nearing the secret.

Okay, getting to the man, he wasn’t that gentle ‘cos his pet peeve was to teach me English grammar, with a pencil, cigarette stick and coffee cup.

I’ve lost the number of times he tapped the burning stick on my story to explain a compound adjective. The complexity of the term would be lost on me while I gaped at how his hooded eyes protected the pencil end from rupturing his eyeballs as he drained the silt off the cup onto his smoky teeth.

One day, he was his usual angry self. He wrote [I’m yet to see a man with such a beautiful handwriting, I admit] the sentence - ‘The truck driver had a near death experience’ and asked me, puffing in his stick, “Is there a mistake in this sentence?”

As I sat recollecting all the grammar I learnt and unlearnt, he was fast losing patience. I heard him, stern and coarse, “Did he die?”

And my mind raised in a totally different direction. “Need to check with the reporter.”

“You asking me to check….” He was glaring from across the table.

“No, I mean, I’ll do it.” I replied in all innocence.

“When did those **** write in English? And the light blinked inside me. Meanwhile, he had lost it completely. He began underlining the sentence. With each puff he scratched harder on the paper. For the life of me I couldn’t think of the answer as his actions were more gripping. He was tapping the cigarette end into the coffee cup after each puff as he held me with his burning gaze.

After a minute of scratching and tapping and staring, he barked, “How many times do I explain this”, and emptied the cup into his mouth.

His bushy ash-laden moustache, set above angrily quivering lips and those blazing eyes looking for cover was a sight to behold.  

Thanks to Mr Banerjee, I’ll never miss hyphenating a compound adjective.

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