Well the “Atlas Frown Epidemic” is everywhere. On the streets, in the office, the bus, the elevator and even the mall. There is no escaping the “atlas frown”, chances are that as you waste company time reading this post the joker in the next cubicle has the frown, look into the mirror you may have it yourself!!!
Well before you start staring in other people’s faces looking for tell tale signs of the frown let me explain what it means. In laymen’s language “Atlas Frown” is the frown I imagine the mythical Greek hero Atlas must have had as he went around carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
As I flit around in my usual carefree, frivolous manner smiling unnecessarily at strangers I am greeted by the “atlas frown”. Everyone seems to be a tearing hurry, laptop in tow (some keep it open for good measure); the phone precariously perched between the ear and the shoulder, a memo pad in one hand and a chewed pen in the other. With time I have learnt to decode this for what it actually means. In simple English this look means one and only one thing: “My job is more important than anyone else in office, in fact I am the only one who works, actually you could fire everyone else and I shall still be running everything as smoothly as ever”. Yes you got it: the Atlas Frowner carries the weight of the entire office on his delicate shoulders (there is a reason I have used his vs. her, men tend to have the frown more than women) Look around and you shall be able to point out at least 5 such AFs (Atlas Frowners) dangerously close to you. The tell tale signs of someone suffering from this epidemic are:
- Their speed of pacing up and down (especially in front of the boss’s cabin)is never less than 60miles per hour
- They are never, let me repeat, never caught smiling, laughing is unthinkable and completely unpardonable.
- They are always on the phone, hmming and hawing loudly with phrases like “this is not done”, “the timelines are really tight”, “we have to stretch ourselves” et al.
- In front of the laptop they are always typing at a frantic speed, the hammering of the keyboard heard at the other end of the building
- They only speak in shorthand; they really don’t have the time to complete sentences.
- They will loose their temper and rave and rant at least once a day (even if it is at the pre recorded IVR line).
- No one talks to them or looks at them unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Finally they are always frowning.
Well to be fair Atlas Frowners are also of various gradations. Like every dangerous epidemic worth its infection there are the terminal cases, frowners who actually believe that if they as much as de-crease the lines on their forehead and acknowledge the existence of their subordinate/colleague the company share price will come crashing down, the shutters will close and the rest of the office will loose their jobs any which way.. They are not faking it; their entire system over the years has been rewired to believe that they run the damn place. Their worst nightmare: the office functioning smoothly without their supervision, intervention and hyperventilation. For such terminal cases a wise man in Bollywood once said “inhe dawa ki nahin dua ki zaroorat hai”.
Next in the food chain are the “Aspiring Atlas Frowners”. Unlike the terminal AFs the aspiring AFs are acutely and painfully aware that their existence does not make a difference to anyone except their poker partners at work. They aspire be the terminal Atlas Frowner, the super-worker who is perpetually chasing deadlines, the busy bee whose outlook calendar does not have space to accommodate nature breaks. Like silly school boys they pray fervently to become the terminal Atlas Frowner even if it were for a day. And they practice wearing the “Atlas Frown” as even sillier boys practiced wearing their underpants on their pants. The Atlas frown is a proud accessory they sport all the time, an accessory that they hope helps them crawl up the official calendar. They don’t wear the frown naturally but their attempt is never to be seen without it. To them a wise philosopher says (ok me) “try and try again and you shall finally fail”
Then there are blokes like you and me, the “opportunistic atlas frowners”. Now we maybe at the bottom rung on the official ladder with no hope in hell to climb, but as far as the self actualization ladder is concerned we have reached pretty dizzy heights. “Opportunistic Atlas Frowners” are evolved enough to fully comprehend that no ones (including their own) existence, absence or presence matters to any corporate conglomerate and in the end it doesn’t really matter. However to provide for their physiological and safety needs they realize the role the Atlas Frown plays. And do they wear the frown well; no one can cast an aspersion on the authenticity of their frown as they blissfully surf the net, coochie coo with their girlfriends/boyfriends on the phone, walk in late, leave early, illegally download music and films, chat with strangers from lands afar, write testimonials on various social networking sites and fill up online surveys for which they are paid measly sums. The Atlas Frown shields them from all queries, concerns, downward pay revisions and even pink slips. They are the “Opportunistic Atlas Frowners” who have wisely decided to cash in on this widespread epidemic.
Well to conclude, all I have to say is that considering I been writing this post and you have been reading it doesn’t it pay to be an “Opportunistic Atlas Frowner”???