Taken for a ride!


Recently, my morning reverie and the gentle calm before the day begins were shattered when my friend Barakat burst into my office frothing at the mouth and fuming in anger. Barakat who works at one of the country’s larger corporations was obviously in an elevated state of distress and agitation.

After a prolonged interval of soothing and words of comfort, I managed to calm him down long enough to get to the cause of his frustrations. It seems that he had just been to his boss asking for a performance review and a promotion to a vacant position. His boss, as some bosses are inclined to be, took him for a ride on the long road to nowhere.

He explained to his subordinate that the company’s output was below par, profit margins were off target and the company was seriously considering downsizing it’s labor force to remain afloat. He tried to persuade Barakat that it was in his interest to assume personal sacrifice for the sake of the company’s survival, and forego any demands for additional rewards for the present.

Their industry was in a highly competitive market, and the corporate yield had not been positive in the past few years. Neither were the projected results for this year very encouraging. They were already far behind the set target. However, if the situation improved, Barakat’s request would be considered, his boss reassured him.

Barakat was not so easily dissuaded. He knew through the rumor mill that this same individual who was pontificating so loftily about personal sacrifice was in the process of pushing his own papers for a transfer and promotion to another division within the company. And to a great degree, it was his boss’s performance and decision making processes that contributed to the present and sorry state of affairs. Yet, his boss sat there with a demeanor of humility and penance.

“And what about your own sacrifice?” Barakat angrily demanded. “Why are you not putting the interests of the company ahead of your own? I have heard from sources that you are currently in the process of seeking a promotion and a pay raise. And yet, you just sit there and expect me to be the sacrificial lamb. Besides, I don’t see you breaking your back and putting out a lot of effort yourself.”

“Aha, but that is the way things run in life,” his boss reasoned. “Look Barakat, the Queen of England recently applied for a pay raise.” Noticing the quizzical look on Barakat’s face, he continued. “Don’t you think she warrants it? What does she really do? She wears a crown, smiles and waves at her subjects, patronizes the horse races once a year, and generally remains inactive. It is her people that play the role of busy bees.

“Notwithstanding that Great Britain is not so financially sound and secure as some of the other industrialized countries, the Queen must maintain her status,” he continued as Barakat sat before him wondering where all this was leading to.

“Even though unemployment affects many sectors in Britain and has not abated, crime in the inner cities remains uncurbed and spreading, and ethnic violence is on the rise, don’t you think she deserves it?” he asked Barakat who was desperately trying to suppress all passions of violence and mayhem toward this individual.

His boss continued: “She inherited an empire that today is a skeleton of its former self. The glory and far-reaching arm of the British Empire is all but a distant memory. She lost Hong Kong. The Spice girls have broken up, and the English cricket team is an embarrassment. There are rumbles in Australia about breaking away from the Commonwealth. Did you also know that previously loyal Scotland attempted to disassociate itself from this dwindling empire?” he demanded, failing to notice that Barakat’s eyes were by now a glaze of confusion and despair.

“But!” he added with a twirl of his finger, “She is after all a boss. And as such must be granted the privileges of one!” he concluded triumphantly, rising to his feet to indicate their meeting was all but over.

I knew of no current vacancies in nobility, otherwise, as Barakat sat so disconsolately across from me, I would have suggested that he apply for one. And with a pay raise!

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena