77th Episode. In many owner driven organisations, seniors getting a late night call is not something new. But here in this media organisation it was a habit. The promoters were more tuned to getting their work engine warmed up late. They were at their best late evenings. In fact for some of them the 8 -11 PM time band was the most productive. Unfortunately for the poor senior employees who reported early in the morning and slogged through the day, these late night calls and meetings were an unavoidable pain. It was always the case of ‘Who will bell the cat’.
I am sharing a story about an incident that involves SAM, senior management member in an owner driven Newspaper Company or so he believed. We will discuss his ill-founded beliefs later some day. He reported GYAN, one of the four brothers owning the business. He was one of the two that was in the habit of calling late night meetings. On top of that these meetings never started on time. More over the two offices where Sam and Gyan worked were separated by some 7 KM or minimum 40 minute of peak time congested traffic in Mumbai.
Sam was really fed up with it. For some unknown reasons, even the call for the late meetings would also come late. Normally it was around 4 PM when his secretary’s would deliver message for a meeting at 8 PM. On the other side, hardworking Sam having worked to a plan would be dreaming of a stress-free evening. There he would have his plans with friends, which were being abandoned with clinical frequency. Sam was looking for an escape.
One fine afternoon when Sam was relaxed and again dreaming of an evening drink and diner sessions with friends, the dreaded call came. Meeting at 8 PM at Gyan’s office. Sam was really bugged. This was the second call in the week. He called home and informed his wife that he will be late, special instruction no calls. Then he begged his friends who by now were getting immune to his pleading. It was nth time that he was dropping out.
Unknown to all, today was a different day, Sam had a plan, which was laced with the taste of vengeance. He picked up the tinny bottle of ‘6 Hour caffeine shot’ he had got from his last trip to Florida. He was now ready for the meeting.
He was in Gyan’s office sharp at 7.30. He knew that if he was lucky, the meeting would start by 10 PM. But then there always was this question; what if the meeting was to start at 8 PM.
At 9 PM Gyan came out and did his customary ‘Give me just half an hour ,why don’t you take a bite in the canteen’. Sam knew the routine, it meant minimum wait of another hour. He took out his cigarette pack and stepped in the balcony. It was going to be fun tonight. Today, he did not mind the wait. In fact it was part of his plan.
The meeting finally started at 10.15 PM or so. Sam took out his 3-page list of points to discuss. They all needed Gyan’s inputs or go-ahead. Gyan had his own set of points but unlike Sam’s case, there was no list.
It was as if the bell rang and both of them started discussion. The meeting was on. The pitch was right. After all, the two senior executives were discussing things that could not wait for the sunrise. Tea kept coming. The last teacup was served at 1 AM, when the canteen closed. But the two warriors were at it. They were fresh. For Gyan this was daily schedule. Sam was also known for working late whenever needed. More over he had the support of that 5-hour caffeine shot he took post the last cup of tea.
There were still lot of points to be discussed. Gyan was getting tired. Finally at 2 AM he said ‘Hey Sam, I think lets discuss this tomorrow’. Sam was not to let the opportunity go by. He moved in with his jab ‘Gyan Tired !, we will finish in no time, just a bit more is left, why don’t you just splash some water and we will complete this’.
Sam knew that Gyan did not like words like tired, time pressure, reschedule and he decided to play to the gallery. He was younger to Sam by a minimum of 8 years. So Gyan walked to the end of the hall where the cooler was placed. He splashed some water on his face and felt better. Recharged, he was back in the conference room.
The clock started moving again. Soon they were at the 3 AM barrier when Gyan could not take it any more. ‘What ever you are saying Sam is making no sense to me, I am out. We will have to discuss this some other day’. Sam smiled ‘ just another 30 minutes at the max and we are over. Why reschedule hen we have done all this. ’.
“what about your family Sam’
‘Oh Gyan, its simple, since I started working with you, they are now trained. They know as a senior team member I can be called for a meeting anytime. You don’t worry. They understand … I have told them and anyway see they have not even called’.
The talk was hitting Gyan and Sam knew it, so he went for the kill.
‘You now Gyan, I have a theory. If you cannot be home by 1030 PM then you should only reach after 3 Am. When you do so, the only comment you will get at home is – if you want to eat there is food in the fridge and I am sleeping… no questions.. no fights’
‘Lets get this last part finished Gyan’ Sam pushed
They were back at work.. At this hour the approval strike rate he was clocking was on of the best. and was getting a good strike rate of approvals. Discussions were short and decisions quick. Sam could notice Gyan eyeing the list. Playing to the gallery, Sam placed it on the table before Gyan. They were really at the last phase. Unknown to Gyan, Sam had held back the most controversial decisions towards the end. They looked small bullet points on the list but were a minefield that Gyan walked into.
The meeting finally got over at 430 AM. Sam walked out and dropped the Caffeine shot in the dustbin. It was his aid against sleep in long drives. Never mind, they served a higher purpose.
Gyan realised that Sam was equally apt at long late night meetings. He knew Sam will play this way whenever another late night will be called.
Sam continued to work for the organisation for another 5 years. He still reported to Gyan. But there was a change. Now, Gyan never called Sam for a meeting that was scheduled post 430 PM. The secret is out.
The names have been changed to protect identities. But many readers will identify Sam and Gyan.