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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Professional Hazards

Every line of career comes with its professional hazards. Apart from obvious ones like being in the military or law enforcement (or in the underworld!), where death stalks you, other professions too have their own “moments”. We're not referring to deadly situations, but only humourous ones that people across the board face or find themselves in.

A police inspector friend of my family was hot on the heels of some miscreants. He works a little outside Pune city, and has to go after displaced tribals who make a living out of robbery. He sympathises with their plight. Look at the odds -- little or no education and forced out of their natural agrarian way of life into an unreal world with little training. For many of them, thieving is the easiest way to put food on the table.

So this cop has to straighten them out by arresting a couple of them and give them a dose of a night in the cell. No torture here, just putting the fear of God in them. He told me that he knew who these people were and that he had even caught them red-handed several times indulging in stuff like throwing nails on the road (the road leading out of Pune toward Sholapur) and then when car tyres got punctured, they move in and steal valuable belongings. So why hadn’t he been able to nab anyone then? Apparently, the reason is that these tribals know the area like the palm of their hand, so they scoot and melt into their surroundings before the cops even wisen up. Better yet, they are so fleet-footed, they should be representing us at the Olympics! But the funny bit is that even as they are outrunning the cops, they have this unbelievable ability to pick up pebbles and stones with their toes and fling them at the cops chasing them! They can run and fling stones with deadly aim, simultaneously. Just another day at work for a cop.

A school teacher was retiring after seeing through numerous batches of kids go through her English course. She knew she was popular with her students and that they were planning a great farewell party for her. On one occasion, she happened to pass by a classroom and heard a student say. “Lets give her Poison.” The lady was utterly shocked. She had come to think of herself as a role model to everyone. She was so na├»ve about everything – including brand names! It’s only when she received her gift and unwrapped it to find – Poison, a Christian Dior perfume did she breathe a sigh of relief!

A friend’s mother was trying to tell her that she had never differentiated between her sons and her daughter. Of course, most daughters in their right senses take this statement with a pinch of salt, unless their parents’ have proved otherwise! That’s what was happening here too. With my friend not believing this remark and her mother pulling her emotional blackmail with a “I took the same amount of trouble over you as I did for your brothers” bit, someone had to give. I remember telling my friend that she should give in because parents go to so much “effort” to make babies! If only one knew the perils of motherhood.

A man who freelances his services as a Chartered Accountant had to go to the Income Tax Office to get a signature on a tax assessment form for a client. He’s been doing this for a couple of years now and knew his way around the various departments. Having dealt with most of the staff at some point or the other, he assumed he could get a simple thing like a signature soon. The IT officer hears him out and offers him tea (which he declines) and then point-blank asks him how much is it worth to him? The CA is taken aback. He’s known this man and it’s only a signature he needs. But he also knows that this is the most corrupt government department in the bureaucracy he’s dealing with. So he quietly pulls out a Rs 500 note and hands it over. The IT guy takes the money and hands it back with a laugh. The CA is relieved to know he’s not going to be robbed blind in broad daylight. Only, the IT officer has stopped laughing and asked him “Why did you insult me with Rs 500, I want Rs 5,000!” Even their illegible signatures have a price.

Written for www.dancewithshadows.com

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