I wrote this post a few months back and somehow managed to forget all about it.
T was leaving his company where he had worked for the past 10 years.
We had taken away his job.
That is, my company, not moi per se. His job was the last one to be off shored to a techie now sitting in Hyderabad. For the past six months, my team and I had worked closely with him on all aspects of support and development of the IT systems that he was a crucial part of.
I understand a little better now, the expression ‘a stiff upper lip’ that the British are famous for. I had anticipated a certain degree of hostility when I, along with my team, first landed up in their office in Bristol on a cold Monday morning in December. Fortunately, we found T and others to be courteous and cooperative, which was frankly more than we had expected. I had been forewarned from at least a couple of people back home who had executed similar transition projects in the US that it might not be a pleasant experience.
Actually, pleasant, it was not. But we were pleasantly surprised with what we got, so I guess I’ll go with pleasant as the adjective. They were polite, courteous and cooperative, yes, but friendly, no. I found that out pretty early as T and others politely declined our offers to join us during our coffee breaks. They never invited us as well and we let it go at that. The rules of engagement were well defined and we worked satisfactorily, if not happily, within those. A few months later, I had a feeling that if a similar offer were renewed, it would not be declined, but I did not take the trouble to find out.
We have superior techno-functional skills. When it became apparent, I saw first disbelief, irritation, consternation and finally grudging respect as we delivered better service levels consistently. But our delivery would not have been possible without his help and cooperation for which I am grateful. I like to think that in the last few months we helped him to improve his skills as well. We involved him in the enhancements that we performed on the applications and he thus broadened his technical skill sets. On the last day, he asked me for a configuration document that I had prepared. I knew he would probably pass it off as his own in his future job applications. But I didn’t have to think twice before I sent it across. He sent back some code he had written which he said were some special shortcuts to specific problems we might face in future.
We were even.
On his last evening, he invited me for some drinks along with the couple of managers whose jobs were safe and a couple of others who had already left the company, their jobs already off shored. I knew by then that T was a kind of a beer connoisseur and he took all of us to three pubs where he declared one could find quality authentic English bitters. All three were small, old taverns with a great old worldly ambience. I enjoyed the beers too; they were quite different from the usual lagers that I would usually choose. As for the conversation, it was jovial and spirited. I asked T what his most memorable day was working with the company.
“Today!” he said and asked for another pint.
All of us trooped over, a little drunk, to an Indian restaurant for a ‘Curry’ dinner. I answered the usual questions about India. They all seemed to be a little surprised that I was a bit eager to go back home in a few months time.
T doesn’t have a job yet. He mentioned that he will take the opportunity to get his garden in shape before searching for his next vocation.
I wish him well.