Some people try so hard to be polite and obliging they don’t realise they’re just being a nuisance. Many of these are PR people, about whom I made an ancient promise never to blog again - but it’s time to break that promise now. The latest incident involves an appointment I had last evening with some corporate type, for the kind of interview whereI try to keep a straight face while asking questions like "What’s your turnover and how much did you grow last year?" The venue was Greater Kailash, which falls neatly on the route I take to go home from office, so I managed to get the appo fixed for a time that meant I could leave office once and for all. I explained this in great detail to the PR person: that I would be leaving office, reaching the venue in my own car and then proceeeding home after the interview. A sequence of events that should be simple to follow, or so I thought.
So yesterday afternoon, just as I’m staring darkly at a sheaf of press releases on watches, which have to be converted into readable stories, I get a call.
PR Creature: Hi Jai, just checking, what time should I pick you up?
Jai: I thought I told you I’d get there on my own.
PRC: Ha ha, don’t be formal yaar, we will pick you up from your office and then drop you back after the appo.
("We"? How many PR people are there going to be at this "one-on-one" interview?)
J: It’s not a question of formality. I have my car and I’ll be going straight home once the thing is over.
PRC (misguided attempt at being casual): Oh ha ha, I see, you’ll katto home straight. You journos have a great life man, no fixed timings or anything. You are just like nomads. Ha ha. Anyway, no problemo, we can drop you home.
J (through gritted teeth; despises people who say ‘no problemo’): But what then do I do about my car, just leave it outside office overnight?
PRC: Oh I see! Well then, we’ll drop you back to your office after we’re done and you can pick it up.
J: Why would I want to go all the way back to office and then drive back home in late-evening traffic?
PRC: Hmmm. Okay, so you’ll come by yourself then?
J: Yes please. As was agreed on long ago. Goodbye.
Fifteen minutes later, phone rings again.
PRC: Hi Jai, this is PRC. Listen, my senior is telling me we should pick you up and take you to the venue. We have only recently acquired a couple of new cars just for such meetings, and they are both fully air-conditioned.
J (temper soaring): PRC, I’ve explained the situation to you. The only way this can be resolved to your satisfaction is if you pick me up and simultaneously hire a large vehicle-carrier to transport my car to the interview venue.
PRC: Uh, I’m not sure if that is...
J: That was a joke. See, there are no easy solutions here. Just make your peace with the idea that I’ll be getting there on my own.
PRC: Are you sure about this, Jai? I just hope you don’t think this will be inconvenient for us in any way. Because it won't.
J (losing temper, sweeping TAG Heuer and Rolex press releases to the floor with dramatic swing of hand; colleague in next cubicle rises, scared): Listen boss, from the moment you called to brief me about this stupid non-story I’ve been thinking only about my own convenience and no one else’s. Which is why I tried to get out of the assignment in the first place. It’s entirely convenient to ME that I come in my own car, not in your foul, air-conditioned new pick-up truck, or whatever it is.
PRC: Err...so you'll come on your own then?
After killing the rest of us with large doses of Excessive Politeness, PR people will rule the earth.