60 and he rocks


I had a very different experience. I am an employee with a drug marketing firm marketing medications for cardiologists, AIDS specialists and skin specialists. I am right now active with with the last class of doctors. I am also a doctor myself. Sounds pretty complicated in the overall scheme of things. That,..is besides the point.

I am having lunch with a colleague in the canteen of the firm. Ordinary day,…just like them all. Get the picture?


I look to my left and see a person from the highest level at the firm moving in my direction with his eyes set on me. Not surprisingly, he takes the chair next to me and starts on a very jovial note. The conversation steers to a seemingly general question, …”How do you find your assignment?” I took it as one of the generalities that are exchanged in office. I gave him a ‘suitable’ answer which I think was as general as the question itself. I told him,”I find it interesting”.

His face changed to one of aversion and told me that I hadn’t understood his question. I immediately picked up the thread and tried to justify my statement. His reaction to that made me realise that he was talking at a much deeper level. He wanted to know exactly what I think of my assignment in the last ten months that I was there.

I started to get into an explanation of my job in the last ten months, and my take on what I have done and the resultant state of mind. He surprised me by saying that I haven’t understood his question. Now, I was surprised on two counts, the first because he had been listening really well and two for my apparent lack of concentration in listening to him.

He then went on to explain his stand about what he really meant. This spiralled into a debate about the difference between two different concepts which are at play in the workplace. I stood firm to the extent that I did not make him seem trivial. But things took a sudden turn when his intentions started spilling into the conversation. The conversation which had simmered with a few bland ingredients suddenly took on a different character with oil, spices and a blend of spirits thrown in.

He looked at me in the eye and asked me why I had done things in my professional life the way I had. I was not listening to him properly as I was only looking at the logical and factual part of it. My body turned warm with his accusations spewn all over. I took my time to listen him out and then explained my point of view. But the mistake I had made was that I was not looking at the emotional shade to the whole conversation.

His face froze in the moment when he was anxious, not angry, when he was concerned than accusational. I realized what he meant. He was not egotistic as I had asumed him to be. He said that I was doing shit in the firm. He said that I was overqualified for what I was doing in the company. He, through many words, demonstrated his respect for doctors and strongly felt that I should be doing my job, of helping people.

Now, I was torn between thoughts of diplomacy and reactive rhetoric. I wanted to tell him that I agreed with him. I was doing shit and I feel the call of duty. But I couldn’ tell him. Rather I chose not to.

At 60, this chap has told me things which very few people, actually very few people would have the guts and conviction to say. I mean, a guy who is moving out because of circumstances, thinks about a guy who is quite new on the job, and tells him in the face that he is doing shit. I mean how many people have we met who can tell that impassionately and with conviction.

This guy rocks,….amazing man!

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