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Positions very vacant

india Updated: Apr 15, 2008 20:46 IST
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Barely 17, but desperate to assert my independence by earning some money, I started working at a drug store. One evening a gentleman walked up to the counter and confidently asked for a 500 mg Avil, an anti-allergic tablet available as an over-the-counter drug. That was 20 times the recommended dosage of 25 mg! I was stumped. I blurted out, “Is an elephant in trouble?” The customer’s eyes bored into me and the expression on his face bordered between rage and murder. Incidentally, in his sheer size and proportions, he could give competition to an elephant. So I guess he had reason to be offended by my comment. That was the end of my brief brush with the world of medicinal demand-supply.

My subsequent employer was a shrewd but a methodical man. He maintained a meticulous record of his business clients to the minutest of detail. Working in the same environs, we constantly interacted with a gorgeous receptionist. Notwithstanding his age, he capitalised every possible opportunity to impress her. She had a secret admirer in me too. One day, my boss asked me to call up an exclusive restaurant and book a table for two. His devilish smile said it all and I decided to go beyond the call of duty and innocently informed his wife about the impending evening out. That was the end of that job.

I once got a placement in a small publishing house as an amanuensis — a fancy Latin word that used to describe people who basically are employed to write out the words of another person’s writing. I was rendered useless copying out somebody else’s ideas when my own, at least to me, were far superior. Only there were no takers for my brilliant thinking — yet. Before I could think of quitting, my boss enlightened me on the virtues of my handwriting, which was sheer cacography: “Your writing is in direct competition with the Harappan script that still had the hope of being deciphered in the distant future.” I had my ticket to freedom placed in my hand.

Life has been kind to me, for now I am a scribe — a fancy word used to describe people writing for newspapers. I never forget to thank the person who invented the computer, thereby ensuring that my writing isn’t left to be deciphered by future scholars.