Cause my bags are packed …

The notice period - commonly identified as that periodic reference from the time an employee expresses his desire to move onto bigger designations, better remuneration schemes, faster computers, enhanced prospects of attractive coworkers or quite simply a better window seat, to the actual moment that he exits the office edifice. But there is a lot more that transpires during this transition that is usually glossed over. For this is probably the only period that employees actually enjoy the rare freedom of expressing their 'brutally frank' opinions without fear of their ramifications.

"One who hands in his slip, will henceforth act as captain of the ship," the hushed oriental accent, the express delivery of the tea cup and Chai-La (the mystical Chinese tea boy) had disintegrated into the door knob of Vikas's cabin, leaving Ram baffled as usual about the early morning sermon.

Vikas, stormed out of his cabin, and headed off to smoke, clearly sporting (if that's the right word) the kind of look someone would have if they had run into something very unexpected, very unpleasant and rather sharp.

Karan strolled out with the air of a man who had just won the lottery. There was a song on his lips that he was humming rather tunelessly, almost on purpose. Karan was also an Account Executive like Ram. Extremely shy and reserved at most times, terrified of Vikas at others, and unanimously the butt of all jokes emanating from the creative department all through the day.But today, almost mysteriously, there was an air of supreme confidence about him.

"I have quit man!' he said thumping Ram of the back with unwarranted enthusiasm, "going to another agency at a much better salary and getting a promotion as well."

"Hey, that's really nice. How long is your notice period?"

"Just about long enough to make the losers here rue their existence." He chuckled with sinister intent and strode off to flirt with some girls from the creative department, in whose direction he would scarcely have dared to breathe earlier.

Vikas returned, ashen faced, "we need to get a handover from Karan, he is going and things should continue to be in control even on his accounts," then like a bad memory leaping to catch up with the mood of things he digressed, "he called me a pompous ass, do you think I am a pompous ass?" Ram choked on his tea, expertly disguising the triumphant chuckle.

"No certainly not." He replied keeping his straightest face possible, an exercise that was proving to be immensely painful.

"Ok call the others in the conference room, get both the creative and media as well, lets take stock of the business."

An hour later PP (the creative director of the exaggerated moustache fame), Tanya (the 'south Mumbai' copywriter), Mumbles (the reticent art director) and Planimus (the gladiatorial media planning head) joined Vikas and Ram in the conference room.

"Ok why are we here? And who are we waiting for?" boomed PP in his customary 'louder than life' style.

"We are waiting for Karan to discuss the status on his account," began a strangely subdued Vikas, "and here he is."

Karan had entered the room with a saunter that would have done a hormonically challenged male puma proud.

"That's what you have always been good at Vikas. Stating the blinding obvious," he began with the urgency of a pinch hitter going for it.PP exploded into peals of laughter, and kept ferociously drumming the table with his excessively large palms, generally causing the concerned carpenter stress wherever he would have been.

"And for that matter, PP, all your work is pretentious and largely passé. I yawned all through the last TV commercial you created, only the last bit woke me up and that was the logo," remarked Karan, enticing a lightning quick culmination of all mirth on the PP front. PP sat silent and stunned, almost like someone had jabbed him in the solar plexus.

Vikas, historically it must be said, for the one and only time in his career almost felt a pang of sympathy for his old foe.

Ram had begun to imagine the whole meeting as a video game in which Karan was the Terminator.

"What's wrong with you Karan, you silly boy?" cooed Tanya in an almost suicidal manner (in Ram's gaming theory) and the Terminator struck.

"Lets start with what's right with you Tanya, and my guess is that you would struggle to fill up the back of a bus ticket in bold on that front. Or have you ever even traveled in public transport to know the enormity of the insult that you have just endured?" Karan almost was basking in his own eloquence at this point.

Planimus rose from his table to begin to speak, 'fatal error' thought Ram. He was composing in his mind the choicest insults that he could gather at such short notice, and was about to unleash them when the Terminator beat him to the draw.

"And you, Planimus have perfected a unique art," began Karan and paused.Planimus was so taken aback that some kind words might actually flow his way; that he completely lost the momentum of the thing.

"The art of taking something utterly simple and making it mind bogglingly complicated," completed Karan with a sardonic smile. 'Hell, he is playing with his kill,' thought Ram to himself.

An uneasy silence followed, as the various participants were busy tending to their battered egos. At that moment the President chose to pop his head in, in his normal cherubic manner. 'Jackpot?' thought Ram.

"I say Karan what makes you leave?" asked the President, as there was an inward groan in the entire room.

"Many things, but mostly you. I am almost tempted to tell the client in what poor hands their account is. Be it your directionless leadership, your confused values, your limited understanding of a subject called advertising, Your sycophantic culture that is now festering within the confines of these walls, your fixation with skirts, I could go on but I think more important things like lunch beckon," concluded Karan with smug satisfaction and strolled out of the room with purposeful poise.

The President flopped into a chair, and looked at the ashen faces around him."What…what was that?" he asked, still unable to string thoughts coherently."The Notice Period Syndrome," answered Planimus with an all-knowing sign, the others were still missing any sensation in their extremities.

"Lunch anyone?" asked the President, and all the others trailed out of the room, leaving Ram to clear the aftermath as usual.

"Get him out as fast as is humanly possible, settle his dues, and give him what he wants, just get him out. I don't want the others following his example," Ram heard the President tell Vikas as they walked towards life, sustenance and people who would say more pleasant things about them.

Ram just closed his eyes for a moment to shut his mental video game, when he felt the tea cup in his fingers again and the oriental drawl whisper in his ears, "The only one in an office who is brave, is one who is leaving for another job or the grave," for once it made sense.

Ram opened his eyes just in time to see Chai-La vanish with an air of resignation.

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