The Rarity Of Niceties

The best thing about being a fresher at a company is that for a brief while, right from your first day to the day you get your first salary, you feel you own the damn place. You walk with your chest pumped up with pomp and your nose turned up; the latter being especially true when you see college kids (“Huh! Silly little children!”) All that haughtiness lasts until your first pay-cheque shows you your place in the food chain and that pumped up chest deflates like a hot air balloon with a hole in it.
I remember getting my first salary – truth be told, I wasn’t too disheartened, cos I was just too excited about finally “owning” some money that my dad didn’t give me with a “Go, buy something nice.” But a couple of my friends, I remember distinctly, said the following words, “This salary won’t help us at all! We need to refer some friends and get the referral bonus.” Fairly simple plan, as was told to us during our induction: Send us the CV of your friend. We will hire him/her. You will get half of your referral bonus at the time he/she joins, and the remaining once he/she has completed three months with the organization.
All bonuses should be so easy. Except that there were flaws with this plan:

1) All our friends already had better jobs
2) The company would have found reasons to reject them even if you referred them (“We liked your friend; but the locality she lives in is known to have stray dogs and the cab driver’s boss is allergic. We can’t have the transport department going on strike because of your friend now, can we?”)

Anyway, like anyone else, I quit my first job, moved to Bangalore and was quite happy like a quacking duck when one of my closest friends from college asked me to refer her for a position at my organization. Now here’s the thing: a less exaggerated version of flaw # 2 above still held true. I had learned this because a number of people had asked me to refer:
-their third cousins
-boyfriends of the girls who had friendzoned them (them here being the person asking me to refer the boyfriend)
-the husband of a girl who they had heard of from a noisy aunt at a temple

None of them made it of course, cos that’s just how things work, no matter what the colorful mailers about successful referrals tell you. But this here was my friend, someone who mattered to me, someone who had made my rather turbulent journey through college more pleasant. I could have (in retrospect – I should have) given her all the reasons above and told her referral is a waste of time, but instead I tried my luck, on her shoulders.

After months of going back and forth, and several mailers to me and several telephonic rounds with her, nothing really seemed to be happening. Every now and then I would get a rejection mail and two weeks later I would get an “interview rounds initiation” mail. This went on from 2013 to 2015. I could say seasons changed while I waited (actually, while she waited), but I won’t cos seasons literally changed and not just once. So instead of using an overused, hyperbolic metaphor, I’ll tell you this: I went from being a happy and satisfied employee (yes, they exist!) to an employee who just gave a three months’ notice of resignation.

It must have been a week after I resigned that I got a text my friend who said some guy from the HR department called her saying she will have a final round of discussion shortly. She asked me to check with the guy cos it had been a while since the call and she hadn’t heard anything back. She had his phone number but not his name. I looked it up on Truecaller and I pinged him via messenger. He was, to say the least, rather intolerant of my one simple doubt, “At what stage is the interview process right now?” Maybe he didn’t wanna divulge it, maybe it was against some corporate policy. But his answer was rather……

Me: At what stage is the interview process right now?
He: I have documented it and sent it
Me: Sent it to whom?
Me: How can you not know whom you sent something to?
He: This is not working! Call me.

And call him I did. Now before I tell you about how that conversation went lemme tell you, the guy was a fresher (from his designation) based in Gurgaon. Here’s something about the guys from Gurgaon (add to that pomp-pumped chest), they always start a conversation with a stranger with a fake accent. Why, men of Gurgaon? We all know you do it, and we all know it isn’t real, and what we all also know, but you clearly don’t is – it sounds hilarious. So I knew even before I touched the “Dial” option on my screen that I was gonna be greeted with:


I was.

But here’s the thing about fake accents. You think you’re trying to be (insert appropriate word here) but 30 seconds into the conversation, you start sounding like a… well, like a guy from Gurgaon.
He said about everything possible to prove his point of how he does not know whom he sent the documentation to, which mainly consisted of the following two sentences, “I SANT IT ALL-RADDY! I SANT IT LUST WIKK ONLY!” Oh well, to whom?! At least tell me the information is confidential, you moron!!!

Then he said the words that I will never forget and I swear to Satan I will never forgive him for:

“You are just worried about your referral bonus.”

Here’s what was wrong with that:

1) I was only worried about my friend’s job interview, cos back in 2013, I thought we might end up working together.

I don’t usually fly into rages at work, because I believe rage is an emotion and emotions have no place at the workplace (that’s also why I limit my friends to one or two in office). Yes, I believe this despite being a highly emotional person everywhere else and at all other times. But this. This made me wanna catch the next flight to Gurgaon, battle whatever shit that goes on in that city of wannabes, and break his fucking neck.


Ok, so I was saying that I got a little upset.

I did not wanna continue the conversation, so I simply hung up on him. I was emotionally charged and drained at the same time sad and didn’t really wanna do anything after that. I sat there till evening, went home, feeling like the saddest zombie to have ever walked the face of the earth. I wanted to call up my friend and tell her to just forget about it. But I did not even have the heart to do that. If I may add, I just went to my room and cried like a teenager. All because a guy implied I was referring my friend only for my own monetary benefit. (All Gurgaon guys reading this just flashed a smile of triumph to each other)

The next day I reached out to his manager and said “Your reportee was extremely rude and unprofessional.” She simply, diplomatically defended his ass.

I don’t get it – do we simply do things for monetary gains? Is there always an ulterior motive when someone is being nice to you? I mean, yes, the only selfish interest I had in this matter was wanting to work with my friend, and the only reason I followed up with the douchebag is because I was answerable to her, as her only contact in this matter. But aren’t people nice like that anymore? What was the basis of his question? I am no saint, but that, the very memory of that question riles me to this moment.


10 thoughts on “The Rarity Of Niceties

  1. Kalpana Solsi May 27, 2015 / 6:48 PM

    First job blues. When I got my first salary was so thrilled as I had felt that packet contained too much cash. Yes I had received cash and not a cheque.


  2. Shailaja Vishwanath May 28, 2015 / 1:58 AM

    First, breathe πŸ˜‰ Next, whether you admit it or not, there are very few nice people left in this world. Ok, let me rephrase that. There are lots of nice people in the world, but very few are nice for the sake of it, because it is perceived to be a weakness. People would much rather be rude/ standoffish because it is easier. For them. Having said that, I suggest you cherish the ones who are truly nice without worrying about what the world at large says, because, let's face it, these are the people who matter. As for the telephonic HR guys, well, they're just saying things they have been taught to say. I doubt any of them think before they speak. So chill πŸ™‚


  3. elly stornebrink May 28, 2015 / 5:35 AM

    Ditto to what Shilaja said: wise words of advice. πŸ™‚ I think I have nothing more too add except that being an emotional creature – I am sensitive too – it is normal and easy to react in the manner you did! πŸ™‚ ❀


  4. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:29 PM

    Oh yes, I had to take a lot of gulps of air to calm down that day. I know that being nice is perceived as a weakness and that's true. Now that I think about it, I didn't have anything to prove to him. How does it matter if he thinks I am a referral-bonus-digger? But that day, OMG! I think I felt he insulted our friendship (mine and the girl I referred) and that's why I lost it.


  5. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:30 PM

    πŸ™‚ I just hope I don't lose my cool at work like that again πŸ˜€


  6. Parul May 28, 2015 / 5:35 PM

    Okay – So, I work in HR and if that guy did not know at what stage is the candidature stuck, well he was not doing his job right. Fresher or not, if you dont know, just say it aloud and get back with the right information as promised. That's called being a professional..

    Oh – first job! I have so many memories. I started as a Software Developer and till date, my referrals have always been rejected! Phew! That “Aleuw” was the best.. A lot of Delhi folks also give that fake accent and 30 secs, it's all out in the open. What an awesome post Sreesha!! Just loved it!! πŸ™‚


  7. Keirthana May 28, 2015 / 6:11 PM

    Ah first job memories! It is kind of bittersweet for anyone. As for referrals, I have not tried much but one of my referrals (not in my then organization but at my then client worksite) had worked but it took soooooooo much of time. I had to go through what you have described. Endless waiting and follow-ups and finally!

    And it has worked for people who referred me too. I guess there's some touch luck here.


  8. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 6:50 PM

    That's what I kept thinking that how he not know! It made absolutely no sense for him to simply keep shouting.

    I have fond memories of my first job too πŸ™‚ Although I was there only for a short while, I still had great friends.
    Anyone who fakes their accent just goes down on the personality scale for me! It's so weird and annoying…


  9. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 6:51 PM

    Yeah, it's a stroke of luck maybe. It hasn't worked for me sadly, being on either side of the referral field 😦


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