Ravi Mohan's Blog

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Asok's Own Country

Recently, a friend (we'll call him M) invited me to his company's annual day party. First the CEO made a speech about how they (the folks who work at the company) were "creators of history and not just passengers". People clapped. Then the party proper started.

Well, sorta kinda. The Mistress of Ceremonies declared that "the bar is now open". One small problem though. You couldn't just walk up to the bar and get a beer. First you had to locate a "coupon distributor", get a "beer coupon" and then walk over to the bar and hand over the coupon and the bartender would hand you a beer. If you wanted another beer, you had to rejoin the line. (I am NOT kidding. This really happened. I was there, as were 200 or so others, so I have plenty of witnesses).

M, (by now thoroughly embarassed) joined the long line, and after inching forward for about 20 minutes, arrived at the head of a line and asked for "two coupons please". The person dispensing the precious scraps of paper. The Person Behind the Counter -PBC from now-, took a long and incredulous look and then said frostily "Only one coupon per head. sir".

M: "so, if a party of four want
 beers,all four have to line
 up and get their beers"
PBC: "That's right"
M: "ok... if they want another
 beer, they need to join
 the line again."
PBC: "That's right sir!"
M: "All four of them"
PBC (beaming) : "That's right, sir!
 Here is your beer coupon"
M(handing it back): "Do me a favor friend,
 Have a beer on me" 
(walks away).

Creators of History? :-)


Anonymous said...

Bwaaahaaahaaaa :):)

That was realy funny !!!

Bwaaahaaahaaaa :):)

Nisha Pillai said...


Anonymous said...

Which company ?

I'm looking for a job change now, Hope I don't end up there.

Ravi said...

I won't name the company. I know some fine folks who work there. If you notice I deliberately kept all commentary out of the post, except for the title and the very last sentence.

You have a point though. I wouldn't want to work at a company that treated its employees with such casual disdain.

maybe when you finish your interviews yo could slip in a question about the last annual day celebrations? ;-)

Nested said...

I find this kind of situation facinating insofar as it tests the extent to which people will just go along with something that makes no sense. My question then is did this actually go on for the duration of the party? Did enough people object to get rid of the tokens?

Ravi said...


(a)this went on for the duration of the party.
(b) *no one* objected (that I could see).

You have put your finger on the facet that fascinated me!

I can, with some difficulty, get my head around the idea that a company would treat its employees so badly.

I can*not* imagine that people would let themselves *be treated* so badly.

After all Bangalore is booming and there are plenty of jobs around!

If this had happened in Thoughtworks (just as an example - TW treats its employees very well, relatively speaking), the employees would have lynched whoever was in charge, boycotted the party en masse and probably burned down the office too :-)

If I were working for this company, I would (at least) have gone out and bought a few cases of beer with my own money and distributed it to the guests, just to make a point.

But alas, I was a guest, so i sat on my hands and kept my mouth shut :-).

My friend was kind enough to buy me a splendid dinner to compensate for the surrealism so it all turned out well in the end.

People never fail to astonish me.

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise with the company. The main problem with huge parties is that the organizers are at the mercy of the vendors. At the end of a party when the bill has to be settled, the oragnizers are presented with an obscene number. Say something like 1500 beers for a party of 200 containing 30 drinkers and at the end of the party everyone appearing sober and fine. in this case there is no way to dispute the bill. The token system is a way that can be used to keep tabs on the total number of beers/food dispensed. Another obvious way would be to have some one from the company actually counting the beers. But this would mean one person forgoing the celebrations. A reason why no one must have complained must be because the employees must have understood the reason for the token.

Ravi said...


Hmm good companies like Thoughtworks and Google don't seem to have these logistical problems even when there are a couple of thousand party goers. Do they have superior (mystical ?) organizing skills?

Even strictly outsourcing based companies like Cognizant (Bangalore), leave alone "creators of history" don't have these ridiculus systems for their annual day bashes.

Perhaps there's something unique about this particular company that you know of? Do tell.

if the company can't find (a) honest vendors (b) people who know how to plan a party, there are bigger problems with the company than they are aware of.And the worst case is ohhh.. a Rs 15,000 bill... that's all of what 300 dollars? The organizers should be ashamed of this party. The employees deserve an apology not excuses.

And as for employees not complaining. Believe me there was plenty of grumbling and badmouthing of the organizers going on.

No one complained *to the organizers*

Hmm that is another problem the company has. Why are people so scared?

And anyway you shouldn't need complaints to know how to treat your employees better.

The morons who thought up this "beer coupon" scheme should under no circumstances be permitted access to a computer. The thought of them developing "history changing" software is too horrible to contemplate.

Oh yeah, do you really think a "token" scheme (one token per bottleper person then get back in line) will pose a hurdle to dishonest vendors ? or incompetent organizers?

I REALLY hope you were just joking or being sarcastic. If this is an example of your reasoning skills, I pity you.

I rarely lose my temoper on this blog but the above comment is the kind of moronic thinking that deserves a place in Dilbert, not in the real world.

Anonymous said...

(slightly edited to remove abuse and retain logic - Ravi :-) )

Well I agree that the one token per head system sucks. But the token system as such is a rampant practice. "Good companies"..... like Google .... TW etc... may not be doing it now but I have seen this being practiced at other companies e.g. Siemens, Airvana, Satyam etc. As far as $300/Rs 15000. Either ways companies are companies because they manage money well.

(abuse deleted - dude, anonymous + abuse don't mix. Step into sunlight. no one will hurt you :-)

Ravi said...


"Well I agree that the one token per head system sucks."

Ahh that was my central point.We seem to be in agreemnet after all.

Sooo (from your original comment) you have "sympathy" with something you think "sucks"? Why?

As for Siemens etc also following this practice (a) I would be very surprised if a multinational company did this. Is this in Bangalore only or in (say) their HQ in Germany? I can imagine something like this happening in Germany. NOT.

Anyway, for now , I'll take your word for it.

(b) If something "sucks" (in your own words)what does it matter how many people do it? That doesn't make it right. This type of argument (many people do it so it is ok/tolerable) is what is precisely "moronic". Just so we are clear :-)

Anonymous said...

You don't get it, do you?

"Anonymous" is the guy who came up with the scheme :-D

No doubt he is pissed off at the 'sight' of people falling around laughing !

Just joking, but you never know :-).

(I am not joking now) Can I get an invite for their next annual party? I'd like to see this scheme in action. Must be one of those unforgettable moments.

(hums Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" )