The other day in office I was sitting on my seat just minding my own business when a new team member approached me. It was lunchtime, and he politely asked me if I would like to join him for a carrom game. I was stupified by two things. First I didn’t know the guy that much and was puzzled as to why he came to me instead of other people. Perhaps because nobody else would want to waste their lunchtime playing carrom.
Secondly and most importantly, I had no idea our office had a carrom board and that too on our floor.
Regardless of my wary nature, I followed him to a hidden but all-accessible storage room where a brand new carrom board was placed in the middle like a trophy. The pristine condition of the board should have made my alarms go off, but I guess I hadn’t had my Sherlock pills that day. We started playing, and as I hadn’t played carrom in a while, he had the upper hand. Okay, I agree he was just killing me in the game. As I was getting the hang of it again after 8 or 9 years something unexpected happened.
The supposed owners of the carrom boards barged in and started scolding us. I had no idea that the carrom board belonged to anyone else other than the office premises, so I was naturally surprised at their sudden outburst. I calmly asked them why they hadn’t put a sign outside the door if they wanted the secrecy of the hallowed board so much. The men threatened us on the top of their voice and said they would complain to our manager. And that’s when I lost it. I asked why they had placed a personal item in the office and whether I should place the complaint about them instead.
Don’t misunderstand me. This story is not about my heroic grandstanding against some over-ecstatic colleagues. Instead, I wanted to put light on the way they behaved with us; something all of us experience day in day out. They acted -as my mother very beautifully put- like 5-year-olds whose favourite toy had been hijacked. Inspite of the fact that they could have easily and politely gotten rid of us saying they chose the violent route and tried to intimidate us. And that my friends, is what bullies do; threaten people because they don’t know any other method. They speak loudly, make no sense, wave their hands angrily, and most importantly are sure that they are always right. Sounds spooky, doesn’t it?
Let me tell you of another instance. Last week late in the evening, I booked a share-cab from my office to home and then waited. The app showed the ride would start after 15 minutes and so I bided for time. Five minutes later I get a call from an agitated driver who was saying he was waiting for me for the last 5 minutes. Confused I rushed to the ground floor, and because I work on the fifth floor, it took me some time. By then the driver’s rage had skyrocketed. He started shouting and commented that I should be respectful of other people’s time especially the lady passenger who had been waiting alongside him. I apologised and agreed he was right. I told him the OTP, but he kept on going about how irresponsible I was, and that I should take care of other people’s time. And then came the Brahamastra when he said, “I am working since morning, and I don’t need this right now.”
I calmly asked him, “What is your problem?”
Not expecting me to reply to his constant barrage of meaningless anger with a cool demeanour he fashioned a dumbfounded expression.
I asked again, “What is your problem? I apologised and told you there was a problem in the app. What more do you want? Why are you shouting?”
Then covering like a champ, he said, “I can’t help it. It’s my voice that is loud,” which I countered with, “Do you think I can’t raise my voice? You’re not the only one working in the world and certainly not the only one who gets angry. I have also been working since the morning and believe me, I also don’t need this right now.”
Have you ever noticed how bullies become speechless when you throw logic on them and that too calmly? They either go away mumbling something inaudible or if you are standing in the school playground, they let their hands do the talking. Hitting someone is the most basic and the crudest form of animalistic behaviour a human being can use in an argument.
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