It was the big day.
It was my first working day. I had been selected through campus recruitment ages ago. After spending plenty of days wondering if I would ever be asked to join I finally got the call a year and half after I had been selected one warm June evening. The results were announced very late in the day and I had even contemplated leaving because Germany was playing Argentina in WC2006 quarter final that day.
I went back to that day and thought of all those memories as I got ready on a typically cold December morning in Chennai. The bus was supposed to be at my stop at 7 15. I had no appetite and brushed away my mother’s insistence that I eat breakfast and jumped down the stairs to wait for a couple of my friends who were joining with me. They arrived and we set off for the bus stop.
When we reached the bus we were absolutely flummoxed by the crowd waiting there. People of every known IT company seemed to be waiting there. We did not know what our bus number was and we resorted to peering into the various ID cards strung across the necks or attached to belts. Finally we spotted a guy talking animatedly into a head set with a disgustingly false American accent with a tag that was ringed with the name we were looking for. We had short argument on who would go up to the guy and enquire about the bus route and luckily my friend became the scapegoat.
He returned a couple of minutes later looking absolutely bewildered. He informed us there were buses passing through the point to several offices of our company and that two had already passed the stop. Finally a bus came with our company logo and we were relieved when the driver said it was for the office we wanted to go to.
With our hearts racing we boarded the bus and were stunned.
It was not like anything I had imagined even in my wildest nightmares. It was deathly silent. Every seat was pushed back as far as they would go and people were sleeping soundly. Everyone had some device plugged into their ears and some were muttering into their headsets.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF IT EMPLOYEES!!!!
We found a couple of seats at the very end and pushed ourselves past the pushed back seat in front of us. Not a single window was open anywhere in the bus. I was suffocating to death in a few minutes. There was no air circulation of any sort and yet everyone else seemed to be blissfully ignorant of the fact or too stressed out to even bother about it. It looked like a ICU unit of a hospital and everyone seemed to be in zombie state.
An hour later I was miraculously alive and we reached the Promised Land. “Wear your ID card” our driver advised us as we got off. We smirked at him and gave him an all knowing smile. Four years we had heard that in college and never bothered to listen even once. I always thought it was like a dog’s collar and gave it the least respect possible. We got down and looked at the route map laid out near the gate and found the block we were supposed to report to and strode off confidently. A few steps later we were halted unceremoniously by a couple of security guards. “Please display your ID cards” a gigantic security guard asked us accompanied by a glare a policeman usually reserved for murderers.
We sheepishly dug out our ID cards and hung them around our necks. That was the last time I ever forgot to wear my ID card.
“Sir ID card please” the security asked again. I snapped out of my reverie. I was at the security office. I had to hand over my ID card and proximity card to complete the separation process. It was almost 2 years since that fateful December morning. I had become one of them. I had been the zombie on the bus plenty of days after that day. The ID card had become a symbol of pride. As the days passed we wore it like a trophy.
I head felt heavy and dizzy as I removed the ID one last time and handed it over. It was over. My love hate relationship with the IT job was over. The ID card had hung over me like a sword through the 2 years and yet it had provided me with an identity in this world but now it was over.
I was just another human again.