Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Miracle Man

Another morning, another airport, I walked into the security hold area sleepily. The crisp and mildly chilly air in the new Bangalore airport felt like the tender caress of a sedative to an insomniac, something that doesn't quite put you to sleep yet dulls the senses into a pleasant haze. As i wandered past the open restaurant through a maze of blackberries, laptops, cellphones and the hapless humans attached to them I was suddenly brought to a stop by a startling sight.

There was this 40 something guy in a suit sitting at the counter, drinking a tall glass of beer. Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal but I looked at my watch, 7:15 AM. I looked up again, he didn't look the drunk type, no pouches below his eyes, no glassy eyes, in fact he looked like he was in the prime of his health. What more he seemed to be relishing every sip of his ber. I didn't even know that the served beer this early in the morning. As I stood there gaping at this guy enjoying his beer, I realised soon that I wasn't alone, there were quite a few people staring at him too.

As he smacked his lips after a long sip, I could feel my lips turning dry. The very concept of having a beer that early in the morning seemed so wrong yet so alluring. He represented everything that was the exact opposite of me. Here I was running against time, all the time, I couldn't think of the last time I had that look that he had on his face, the one of absolute contentment. For that matter, I couldn't think of the last time I had a beer, I mean sit there and just enjoying every sip. It was almost as if I stopped living, a long time ago.

And there he was, drinking that beer, looking like he didn't have a care in the world, didn't look like he had any to worry about, nor a boss to pander, a team to motivate or even a a family to get back to that day. Heck, he was in a suit, so there wasn't a pre-packaged three nights four days whirlwind trip of Europe, which we working stiffs call a holiday to go to either. He was just like me and the dozen other who were staring at him, yet so different.

He could do something we couldn't. It was as simple as that.

After 15 years, of working my heart out, I couldn't do what he did. Frustration welled in my heart, I looked around, at the terminal screen, I had 20 minutes before boarding. I walked over to the counter next to the man with determination, sat on the barstool and set my laptop below and call the bartender over. 'A pint of Fosters please' I said. I swear the guy did a double take and with a slow shake of his head got a clean beer mug, filled it up and placed it in front of me. My fingers were shaking a little as I held the mug and took a long resolute sip. I couldn't describe the feeling of thrill that I felt when the golden nectar flowed through me. After a few more deep sips, I looked around, at the man and the others who were now looking at me. Suddenly my shoulders felt a little lighter and I flashed a smile at them, then I lifted my beer mug in a salute to my fellow working stiffs. The world seemed like such a cheerful place after all.

Just then, I heard the man beside ask the bartender for the check and as the bartender rang up the bill I choked on my beer when I saw I the display screen of his billing machine which was customer facing. My inspiration for corporate nirvana had been drinking a popular non-alcoholic beer which was no more potent than a glass of coke.