For twenty-something single women living it up in a metro -- the dream job that pays a taxable amount and keeps the passion for work alive is just a few clicks away... Or not. But hey! The schmucks are alright!

Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
By Womanonymous “After all, death is but the next great adventure,” said that master politician, Albus Dumbledore. So is a job search, as I recently learnt. On a Thursday evening, while I was contemplating my barely-employed status, LinkedIn told me that this senior Govt official – let’s call him Mr C – wanted to connect with me. Why the hell not, right? So I added him, day dreaming about the future when I might perhaps get a job in one of the Ministries, or in any organization at all, where I would get more than the pitiful stipend I currently get which just about covers rent, electricity, and dinner. (Yes, dinner. Only.) So when I woke up the next afternoon (almost unemployed, remember?), I was kind-of-sort-of happy to see that Mr C had sent me a message! The excitement slightly plateaued when I actually opened the mail and read what might or might not be shady. “Nice to see your profile, I like very much” said Mr C, as he went on to tell me where he worked and what his contact number was. He wanted me to get in touch with him, and while the alarm bells in my head screamed ‘CREEEEP’, I decided that perhaps I should get a second opinion, and then a third. After all, may be he just has bad grammar and poor introduction skills, right? To cut a long story short, I first messaged, and then called Mr C after much back and forth on whether I should bother at all. On the other end of the line was a man who insisted he liked my profile ‘very much’ (although he didn’t know what I did), that he’s interested (in what, he wouldn’t say) and that I should meet him at his office sometime. When I asked him what he wanted to meet me regarding, he said it’s ‘not about anything’. “Just come to my office. If you want,” he said. “No compulsion.” Unfortunately, at no point during the pre-call-contemplation did I devise a plan for what I would say if he was a creep. I therefore opted for, “Uhh… Oh. Umm. I’ll uhhh… get back to you.” Yeah, not very smart, I know. I should have just shut up, may be. Because when he said, “When? When do you plan to come?” – I just cut the call without saying anything anyway. Right in that moment, I was slightly disgusted (creeeeeeeeeeep!), slightly amused (this works for him?) and highly exasperated. Because while this is not an experience one wants to have, when you’re ‘out looking and exploring’ – and happen to not possess a y-chromosome – this isn’t exactly unexpected, right? While I’m comparatively new to the online-job-search world, I know this is true because my roommate, K, has been lurking there for a few years now. There was a time when her daily routine included contacting strangers on LinkedIn who might or might not have a job for her – and every time she got a reply from one of them, we would spend the next few minutes trying to determine whether or not the reply was un-creepy enough to warrant a write-back. The few times that these cold-clicks turned into something more – like phone calls or job interviews – the experiences were surreal. On one memorable occasion, the person she interviewed with wanted to know the exact time and place of her birth in order to draw up a kundali, so that he could astrologically determine her compatibility with his company. (No, not exaggerating one bit.) He also wanted her to take an almost 50% pay cut – all this while acting like he was doing her a favour. While we laughed so hard that tears came streaming out of our eyes, we wondered if he would even think of suggesting such a thing to a man. Kyunki woh toh bread winner hai, nhi? But even that paled in comparison to the job she did take up finally. The tiny organisation at that point had three women on their payroll, including K, a receptionist and a junior executive who was harassed on a daily basis. A week after K joined, the junior quit almost in tears, and soon, K learnt why. The boss – your regular ball-scratching, gyaan-distributing, middle-aged schmuck – took pleasure in telling her how she didn’t know how to do her job, while he refused to give her any responsibilities at all. Insults were now a daily fixture in K’s new routine, but sometimes there were surprises too. Like one day when he made a phone call to a recruiter in front of her and insisted that he doesn’t want any more ‘ladkiyan’. And another day when he asked K, jokingly of course, if she’d had a bath that morning. All this was peppered with some regular sexism: he would discuss work with her (male) colleague, and they would decide that K’s ‘role’ in the client meeting would be to ‘wear a sari and hand the bouquet’. Thus began the next round of ‘adventure’ in job-land. And with it, a new batch of ‘worse-case-scenario’ discussions. While previously, they revolved around ‘what if you don’t come back home and I can’t reach you’ and ‘what if you find me unconscious in my room one day’ (we’re just your regular paranoid 20-something women) – the new discussions had fresh doomsday themes. How do we pay rent if K decided to quit suddenly and emotionally the next day? (We could shack up in one room and rent out the other, right? That wouldn’t be so bad!) What if she didn’t get a job for a long time and there was no money for food? (We’ll get one dinner instead of two – how much do we eat anyway!). On hopeful nights, we talked about ‘when we become big’, how we would help out other women so that they don’t have to play dumb charades with Schrodinger’s creeps. Luckily, K might be out of there soon enough – but not without having to take some hard financial decisions. And while my new ‘adventures’ have just begun, I still have a few months to figure out what I want, and then start ‘aggressively pursuing my dreams’ (like some stalker). But although we know that this isn’t over yet, we sometimes wish we could tell these creeps where to stick it. So here goes: If you’re a man who wants anything that has nothing to do with work – like fraandship for instance – just please, for the sake of clarity – stick to Facebook. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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