One of the most disconcerting side effects of a Notice-to-quit is the transformation which it occurs amongst (erstwhile friendly) colleagues (especially those in the HR and administrative departments). Overnight, the ordinary fellow office goer is transformed into the Public Enemy Number 1.
The feeling they (the admin/HR types) try and recreate is akin to what they might envisage for sequestered people on the Death Row – the same disgust, distrust and contempt. People watch you suspiciously with a hawk eye. Morning greetings dry up. People eye the CD you take from the stationary cupboard wondering if precious office intelligence is being siphoned off (This is especially amusing in an office with no intra-net, where the only data you can conceivably steal is what exists on your work station – viz. work which you have created which presumably also exists in your head)
The HR department buzzes around busily with forms in quintuplicate which you are expected to fill up and get verifications from any person you have had a nodding acquaintance with – the non-existent-library in charge, the cafeteria crowd (Okay, more than a nodding acquaintance in this case), the admin department, the accounts department and half a dozen other departments which you didn’t even know existed until you put in your resignation letter.
Most of the divisions are manageable but the admin department, anal schmucks ( pardon the french) at the best of times, rise to extraordinary levels of anality (is that a word?) when confronted with an on-notice-period-employee.
"Have you returned the staple pins? What about advance money? And you’re visiting cards. You have no RIGHT on the visiting cards - they are our property. Where are the books? Have you done the handover”
What conceivable use I could have for old visiting cards I still have not understood. If I worked in an organization which was so prestigious that even the visiting cards were collectors’ items, chances are I wouldn’t be quitting no?
In this kind of hostile-suspicious environment, one MAY find the saintly people who actually depart to the (hopefully) better work-hereafter, with spotless consciences and without having plotted (if not implemented) petty revenge.
And then there is the other set (to which I belong). The ones who have endured years of being screwed over with salaries-that-appear-attractive-only-in-appointment-letters, minuscule hikes which come five months late, bonuses which suddenly get linked to performance, variable pay which unvaryingly doesn’t get credited. And then are viewed suspiciously to add an insult to injury. It's no wonder then, that they decide to inflict maximum financial damage in the organization as their parting gift and swan song.
These include the super studs that steal large sums of money and deposit them quietly in numbered Swiss Accounts. Then there are the glib guns that lure away lucrative clients to their new employer. You will also find some conniving chaps who hijack hush-hush information and sell it to competition. And of course, there are swashbuckling people like me who daringly steal away vast quantities of pens and post it’s from the office supplies cupboard (this has nothing to do with my stationary fetish. Really).
And that is the risky task on which I have been engaged upon these last days.
Everyday some CD’s, scales, blank envelopes and pencils find their way mysteriously into my bag. Every night my bag is inexplicably clunkier than in the mornings. Every evening leaving for home is a quasi-military exercise. First the reconnaissance (to evaluate the lift floor, the precise position and likely movement of enemy personnel) followed by a sprint to the lift under cover from a friendly colleague (who has been promised a part in the spoils).
Once downstairs, I skulk furtively behind bushes so that the passing nosy colleague will not stop to inquire about why my bag looks like it’s on the verge of delivering twins.
And every single night, I, the Napoleon of Stationary-Stealers, relax happily in the afterglow of a successful heist.
Tomorrow, I think I shall pinch some business cards. Hmmmm...