There are some endangered species in the business world. One is the Secretary - gone are the good old days when an Amazon or a pretty young thing (you had a choice) would guard the entrance to your cabin, get you tea, organise your wife's kitty party, bring a shorthand notebook and take dictation (remember that ?), and do such other extremely important activities. It was invariably a woman - gender equality activists please note - and the choice of an Amazon or the pretty young thing depended on whether your need was mothering , or ....... you get the drift !
But this post is not about secretaries ! It is about another , what I though was an endangered species, the mail room kid.
In the good old days, all offices had a big mailroom. Usually in the basement, this was a fairly large room into which all the incoming mail would come. There was a massive pigeon hole contraption and the boys would expertly flick the mail into the relevant pigeon hole. This done they would collect all the sorted stuff and make their way to each part of the office, delivering the mail.
Now, it must be understood that the mail room boy was the lowest on the corporate totem pole and it was the entry job for a young boy (always boys) who was , well, not qualified for greater things. There have been examples of those who started in the mail room and made their way to the corner office, but let us say, this was the exception. Being young, and in his opinion incredibly handsome, he was rather looking forward to that portion of his job that involved delivering and collecting mail. His time and demeanor when delivering however depended on whether he was encountering the above mentioned Amazon or pretty young thing. A hopelessly big smile, lots of chit chat, a sing song voice, a general slowness of speed, etc etc all characterised the journey to those stations where the Amazon was not the resident species.
This of course, must be long gone. surely. Whoever has heard of a mail room still in existence - surely no dinosaur still writes a paper letter anymore. Right ? Imagine my surprise when I read the news item that corporate mail rooms in the UK are straining under the weight of incoming stuff and they have had to take extra staff !!! What on earth is happening ? Have the Brits , with their well known fondness for ancient customs, gone back to snail mail ?
Well, it appears that the culprit is Christmas shopping. Staff are doing all their shopping on line and getting it delivered to their offices. So the mail room kid is making a comeback - instead of delivering a mountain of paper, he is now deluged with everything from frilly knickers to iphones ! He still does the rounds of the offices, whistling to himself, but alas, there is no Amazon to avoid or pretty young thing to chat up. Instead there are only dull boring spectacled oafs all hunched up over their keyboard.
The problem of a deluge of Christmas shopping deliveries has apparently reached epic proportions. Sir Humphrey Appleby (Ramamritham's guru and mentor) has issued a decree banning government department staff from ordering online stuff to be delivered to the office. He has invoked the principle that office was office and staff are not supposed to use the office facilities for personal stuff. The staff are protesting saying that since they have to be in the office all day, where else could they accept the deliveries. They are threatening Sir Humphrey that denying Christmas shopping opportunities and making staff work instead, tantamounts to human slavery and denial of basic human rights (Mr Preet Bharara, please note !) The matter had not been satisfactorily resolved at the time of publishing this post, and its only 5 days to Christmas.
Even endangered species make comebacks ! And this blogger has taken to posting utterly trivial and inane stuff as the holiday season approaches !!
PS : Regular readers with the exception of those old enough to know (Sriram and Ravi !!) might want to learn of the significance of the title of the post from here :)