People are crazy & the times are strange,
I’m locked in tight, I’m outta range,
I used to care but things have changed.
I completely agree with Bob Dylan when he talks about crazy, strange times. I had one such crazy experience a few weeks ago, when I went for a job interview for the position of an executive assistant to the chairman of a fairly big investment banking firm with a posh South Mumbai address.
I did my research on the firm and agreed to meet a senior associate for a “candid chat/interview”. Several times during the conversation, certain terms were thrown up which were a bit odd, like “career oriented woman whose priority is to make money for the next couple of years”, “CTC is no problem at all”, and “an EA is almost like a companion to the boss”.
The danger bells should have started ringing in my head, but against my better judgement, I decided not to read much into it.
The next interview round was scheduled with the “gentleman” who would be the boss I would report to. The conversation went quite smoothly initially, and included various topics besides what was on my CV. After about an hour or so of conversation, he said he would like to meet me again for more discussions, so that everything was transparent and crystal clear. His exact words were, “We should know what your expectations are and I think you have already been told I am looking for companionship and someone with an open mind towards it, which I think you have.”
I was dumbstruck and shocked to the core, to say the least. Visibly uneasy with this conversation, I made my exit as politely as I could from this preposterous set-up.
I met the senior associate in the corridor and recapped my experience, and mentioned the part about, “looking for companionship and someone with an open mind". I also asked him that if this was a work relationship, then what exactly did one mean by seeking companionship from the EA? I did not expect any answers, and did not get any.
However, the whole experience left me shaken, and feeling degraded and belittled. Was it the fact that I was of marriageable age, yet not married, or my willingness to do work-related travel with him, or simply my appearance that led him to believe I would be open to such an arrangement?
Most women are used to catcalls, lewd remarks and being stared at by x-ray eyes. But being asked upfront by a man almost old enough to be my father was definitely up there on my list.
In conclusion, there are corporate sharks out there who might be well-travelled and extremely successful, but still possess a medieval chauvinistic attitude towards women in today’s day and age.
The writer is a volunteer with SafeCity.in.