Well, well. It has been a while indeed. 2 months! If you have forgotten the earlier parts (I wouldn’t blame you at all if you had 😉 ) here are the links:
https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-one/ , https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-two/ , https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-three/ , https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-four/ and https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-five/.
To keep you up-to-date, I started working at a recruitment consultancy in Malad West since April 2016; involving a tiring commute – either taking an infrequent direct bus, or taking two buses, or metro train-cum-train-cum-share auto -as it was a distance of about 15-16 km from my home in Powai. The timings were 10 am to 7 30 pm on weekdays, and 10 am to 4 30 pm on Saturdays. This meant that on most weekdays I would barely have time to have dinner and then sleep, after coming home from office. For the first 2-3 months, I liked the office atmosphere despite the taxing travel; as it was my first experience in end-to-end recruitment (not counting my freelance recruitment experience 😛 ), and it was a proper office with ACs, coffee machines and a corporate culture – unlike in my first job in Chennai which had a house converted to office, and lacked many facilities essential for an office setup; also the work was not very engaging.
One more plus of this company was that, during the interview with the Director; I had already revealed my Asperger’s Syndrome condition; and it was accepted without much ado. However, there was a grey area – the attrition rate in the company was quite high. There were two teams – Domain (for IT/Lifesciences recruitment, I was in this team) and BPO (for BPO recruitment). The attrition was particularly high in the Domain team. It should have been a warning sign for me early on – especially when the MD (wife of the Director who had interviewed me, and an enigmatic lady prone to losing her temper) gave us a “piece of her own mind” in a meeting; reducing one of the girls in my team to tears. This was as early as May, and something that unnerved me greatly – but I thought this would soon pass. How wrong I was to be.
Workplace stress and travel can be a deadly combination. Timings of 10 am to 7 30 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 4 30 pm were only on paper – the reality was, on many weekdays we were made to stay till 8 pm (most Mondays we had to come at 9 am) and on Saturdays till 5 30 – 6 pm (quite a few Saturdays we had to come at 8 30 – 9 am for recruitment drives). The MD was nice when she was in a good mood, but get on her wrong side and she would make Dolores Umbridge proud (if you get my Harry Potter reference :P) ! Adding fuel to the fire was the gossip culture (especially prevalent within the BPO team). As in my first job at Chennai, I had again developed a close friendship with a young girl with a challenging background – in this case involving financial difficulties as well as having to balance studies, work and taking care of the family; all incredibly at the age of just 19! :O
We all had a trip to Khandala (towards the end of July) for a management workshop. During the trip, my friend developed a shoe bite; which intensified such that she was unable to walk without experiencing close to unbearable pain. I (along with some other colleagues) helped her walk; and I was with her for most of the time; to provide moral support. I was furious with the management for being so insensitive to such a young employee’s hardships – they were adamant that she should take part in the workshop, no matter how much pain she was in. Having experienced bullying at a very young age, and otherwise various hardships in society due to being an Aspie; the very idea of injustice affects me strongly – it affected me in this situation as well; seeing it happen to a colleague who was a friend as well as a sister.
After our return from the Khandala trip, the management (particularly the MD) seemed to have decided they were being too lenient all along; and toughened their stance on various things. If we came late and didn’t inform the management in advance; we would be made to sit outside for a few hours. This worked well for perpetual late-comers; but it severely impacted people who had to travel a lot – also, in the case of my friend; on a few occasions she was late by just 6-7 mins – she was handicapped by her shoe bite, and yet was forced to sit outside. The best part was that the MD herself came later than her! Moreover, we were to have morning meetings involving the entire setup; an opportunity for the management to humiliate us in front of everyone whenever we were short of our targets!
Meanwhile, gossip was spreading around (the doing of a few people in the BPO team) that my friend and I were involved in a relationship that was not merely friendship. Way to go people! You don’t do your work properly while we slog it out, and then try to deflect attention from your poor performance by spreading rumours and trying to ruin friendships! As a result, my friend and I were forced not to talk in front of others; all because of a few immature idiots who talked behind our backs! However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The work atmosphere soon became very stressful – we were burning the midnight oil for numbers which were not fully in our control; while management pulled us up for not achieving closures – they rarely gave feedback on many candidates whom we had sourced with much difficulty.
I got a scooter and started driving to office from September; but by then the office was already like a prison. Once, during a meeting with the MD; she told me that I was going from disappointing to bad. I was indignant, as the previous day I had shared 3 resumes with the client – which is usually a good number. So, I retorted “For your information, I sent 3 profiles yesterday.” I could tell that my reaction shocked a few of my colleagues, but gone were the days when I would take nonsense from anyone, even if is/he were the founder of a company.
Towards the end of the month, the MD went ballistic and fired a girl in front of everyone; while shouting at her as though she was a criminal! To be fair, the girl wasn’t completely innocent – she had taken a few unauthorized leaves; but there is a way to terminate an employee – and that is definitely NOT shouting at her in front of everyone to get out. However, the MD wasn’t done – she then proceeded to shout at all of us, including my friend. She seemed really deranged; and threatened to fire anyone who didn’t agree with her. I had earlier asked for permission to leave early on a few days for my counsellor appointment – the permission was denied . The MD, not satisfied with denying permission; shouted at me for asking permission in the first place!
Once the MD was through with her tirade, I almost exploded with anger. I threw my planner on my desk. The director asked me what happened, and I lied that I dropped it by mistake. At that instant, I was beyond caring; and wanted to leave the company immediately! I vented my feelings by sending messages to my family, relatives and friends – conveying my desire to quit. Later, I managed to cool down and carry on with my work as usual. In fact, a few days later; a new employee joined – and the MD inexplicably started behaving nicely towards us again – I then understood that it was just a show to make the new joinee feel comfortable and at home! Gosh, are there some limits to theatrics? 😛
At the beginning of October, the MD came up with a “hire-and-fire policy”; by which people could be terminated at will for not meeting their targets – we had to send 18 resumes to the client in a week ; all 18 had to be shortlisted by the client HR. It was a difficult task particularly for me, as I was involved in Lifescience hiring; where the numbers were limited and there were a lot of duplications. It was a stressful month as a result and many days I had to stay till 8 pm; as I wasn’t able to meet the daily target of 3 profiles. I worked really hard, but eventually; in the middle of the month, I was called at the end of the day for a meeting by the Director and the Head of Recruitment – they told me that they had no choice but to let me go, as per the hire-and-fire policy.
Initially I was stunned, and; outside the office compound, I vented my feelings by throwing my bag to the ground and speaking angrily with my mother. However, at home I cooled down; and decided that the best thing to be done at the moment was to make a visit to Chennai – that time I needed a break from the atmosphere, and from Mumbai. In hindsight, after speaking to my dear cousin in USA; I felt relieved to be fired – it was like being released from jail! In Chennai, I had the pleasure of meeting my cousins, relatives and friends – including my dear family friend, who used to be my colleague at the company I worked for in Chennai (it was the last time I would meet her before her eventual marriage the following year). I also visited my ex-neighbour, who gave me a fitting advice – “f*** that company and its policy.”
Phew, what a rollercoaster of six months it had been at this company, ending with my first experience of being terminated! Look at what an Aspie has to go through in life! Will be coming up with Part 7 in a while, hopefully it wil be the final part! Stay tuned 😉