We were nearing the end of the year of 2008 and so most of the client-side folks were away on holidays. That ensured a lower than normal number of support tickets for us. But that did not stop Bharath, our TL, from assigning the maximum number of tickets against my name; such was the love and affection that we had for each other. It was no different on that day either.
I started closing the tickets one by one and I was busy writing comments in one of them, when Rajat rushed to my side panting like a dog.
“Did you hear? Did you hear?” he gasped for breath and looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
“Dude, calm down, whatever the problem is, I am sure we can face it. We are dudes, dude. We eat adversity for breakfast. So quit your panting and tell me what the problem is.” I smiled and felt smug about my pep talk.
Rajat gulped and he was a bit annoyed, “Oh ok. Then eat this… Bharath has offered Santa an immediate onsite assignment”
Rajat’s words hung in the air. For the next 2 minutes the cubicle was like a cemetery. Nothing moved and the air seemed to have forgotten to flow.
Rajat slumped down into the chair next to me and we remained staring at the tiled floor for a while.
Finally I spoke and my voice had lost all its self-assured confidence, “When did you hear? Who told you? How is this possible? I mean… How? What the …?”
“My friend, Sushant, in the development team pinged me with the news. Apparently the assignment is for one year. Even people in the development team cannot believe it” said Rajat.
“How can Bharath do this? I mean… Wait a minute… There can be only one explanation for this. Bharath is trying to send Santa away… He must be absolutely fed up with Santa. Yes… That should be it.” I spoke as though I had made an important discovery.
Rajat said thoughtfully, “Yeah. That could be it. But onsite? Bharath is doing Santa a favor. If he is pissed at Santa, why send him onsite? There are numerous other ways to take it out on Santa.”
“Dude, Santa is not in support team. So Bharath cannot dump more and more tickets on Santa. Even if Bharath sets strict deadlines, Santa finishes them off. He might be a loudmouth, but Santa is pretty good at his work.”
Rajat didn’t look convinced.
So I continued, “And I am certain that if Santa stays here any longer, he will put forward his ten point plan for improving team efficiency to our PM and then the consequences will be terrible.”
“Hmm. True. Bharath wouldn’t fancy working on Saturdays, I am sure”, said Rajat.
The cubicle again fell silent. Rajat and I remained lost in thoughts for over five minutes when Santa walked into our cubicle.
“Guys, I hope you heard the good news.”
I gritted my teeth and flashed a smile which did not reach my eyes. If Santa had looked a bit closely, he would have seen murder in my eyes.
“Yeah, we heard the news Santa. Congrats. So when is it all happening?” Rajat spoke up trying to appear cheerful.
“Don’t know guys. Bharath just said that I might have to travel within a month. I don’t know how I am going to get my visa and set everything in order. It is all a bit sudden. But, hey, I am not complaining” Santa let out a high pitched laughter as though he had cracked a joke.
Rajat and I looked at each other and Rajat reluctantly joined the laughter. I did not bother to make an effort.
“I am glad to see that all my good work is being rewarded. Recognition has been slow in coming, but I am just thankful that it is finally happening.” Santa seemed pretty happy and content with himself.
He then turned to me and said, “I know that we both joined the project at the same time. Hey, don’t lose hope yet. You will also get onsite opportunities. May be I will put in a good word for you with Bharath and the onsite PM. How is that?”
I clenched my fist and would have been happy to see my fist pass through Santa’s stomach and come out the other side.
But not all dreams can be acted upon. So I managed to say, “Thanks man”
“You are welcome buddy.” Saying so, Santa patted my back and turned to leave. I quickly put my finger in my nose and with that hand patted Santa’s back. Rajat who saw it, snickered.
It was a juvenile thing to do. But I could not help myself.
Santa turned and flashed his big grin at us once more and walked away.
“Argh” was all that I could manage once he was gone.
Rajat shook his head with a grave look on his face and walked back to his cubicle.
I once again sat down in front of my computer. A ticket from an employee of our client stared back at me from my monitor. I resisted my urge to write the resolution comment as ‘You are a dumb troll if you cannot find this out yourself’ and set myself with renewed gusto to the tasks at hand. It helped to take my mind off the troubling thoughts about Santa for a while.
After about thirty minutes, I got up and walked towards Rajat’s cubicle. I was a man with a plan.