“Stupid Minions”

Handling a team of minions is not meant for everybody.

Zofishan Shahid April 22, 2013

Six months later ‘employee of the month’ finds herself awkwardly clinging to a slimy rung on the corporate ladder. Promoted to senior executive she now toys with the idea of having her own team of minions.

“Stupid minions,” I muttered under my breath.  But before I list reasons to support what is clearly a fact, I must tell the story of my past.  (It’s more dramatic that way).

The snail before me had left a slimy trail but had managed to crawl up while I found myself awkwardly clinging to the rung labeled ‘Executive.’ But there I hung — feet hovering inches above the pool of unemployment. As much as the feminist within dreamt of blaming the glass ceiling, it knew it had to reach it first let alone break through.

As time flew, Superior left to pop out a baby, coworkers jumped ship and I got cozier in my little cubicle. While I failed to see anything wrong with five empty workstations, the CEO felt the emptiness and decided it was time for new recruits. He spoke of responsibility and training — terms my brain had been trained to disregard as noise while it performed more crucial functions like doodling and deciding what to have for lunch.

“…How about two… under your supervision?”

Wait, what? Annoying interns in ‘my’ office?

“I mean…”

The fight or flight syndrome kicked in and quickly processed enough data to present crucial information and form valid arguments on how hiring during this ‘critical’ period could have serious consequences for ‘our’ company. (Rule No. 42 Declare ownership) I threw in facts and figures, quoted CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and was this close to sealing the deal. I had him right where I wanted when he decided to raise the stakes and threw in ‘promotion’ and ‘raise’


I started shuffling a thick stack of paper that made me look busy but were just photocopies of a receipt I could not get the stupid machine to scan.

“I’ll get in touch with HR as soon as I’m done with these reports. I would like to make sure that this hiring benefits us in the long run. “

If I couldn’t avoid this, I might as well control it. And besides it was time the employee — supervisor rule book was revised. (Did we even have one?) All the same, I had a few ideas I wanted approved by the HR. I’d have aimed for new recruitment laws but that would have meant pulling in favors and I was saving those for later. Complaints registered in HR don’t just take care of themselves.

But I wasn’t done. Not yet at least and the CEO knew it. Neither of us was in the mood to argue any further, so I just blurted it out.

“Bigger desk?”

He frowned.

“Done. Just clear yours.”

Yep, it was an actual conversation that happened. For real and not just in my head!

But as I walked out of his office, I began to question his new found faith in my training skills. I mean here I was, unsure about my level of crazy.

Where would I be placed on the ‘Corporate Psychopath scale of B*-ness’ that ranged from ‘that crazy lady’ to the tyrannical and capricious Miranda Priestly. Of course everyone knew the crazy ones were the ones who managed to survive and so the scale of conventionality disregarded the ethical bottom of the food chain.

It didn’t take me long to clean my old workstation (clean here being relative) and move in to my comfy new spinning chair. Apart from the empty coffee cups and three course meals fit for an entire ant farm stuck between my keyboard, I did find a half eaten sandwich that had turned in to nasty green mold. I decided to leave it thinking it would act as a polite reminder for the newcomer to not leave food around for long. The huge stack of paper on the table, mostly accidents that had happened at the copy machine were tossed in to the shredder.

Two weeks later, two new interns were hired. One was an old acquaintance who at the time of the interview squealed, “I am so excited. I can’t wait for us to work together.”

‘Funny, I always saw you working and me, walking in late’ but I decided to hold on to that till after she had signed the contract.

The idea of having my own team of minions running around the office as I barked orders began to grow on me. I decided to name them Minion 1 and Minion 2. Now I just had to tell them that. I finally mustered enough courage to walk in one day and make this little announcement.

Minion 1, who happened to tower over all women and most men making her an excellent recruit for minion ship, (yes, I just coined that term) turned around, raised an eyebrow and said, “Excuse me?” while Minion 2 continued to snore.

Yep, she was definitely good.

I quickly muttered “nothing” and retreated to my desk deeming it best to gently break this to them. Fate took pity, the phone rang and I was able to save whatever dignity was left. I think I even heard her crack her knuckles. In retrospect I was quite brave that day for fighting the urge to crawl under my new desk and rock back and forth.

I decided to jump start Phase 2 mostly because Phase 1 wasn’t really going according to plan. Office supplies that had to be beaten in to submission were found broken. The stapler had suffered the worst fate.

I could have sworn I had seen Minion 1 clench her fists when I ‘politely inquired’ about it.  I’m not stupid and fortunately I can read enough nonverbal cues to know when a person is fighting the urge to strangle or snap me in two. I quietly decided to retreat to my five by three foot fortress. Forget privacy, never had I been so grateful for 24-hour video surveillance.

Which is why it was back to Phase 2, which meant creating a to-do list for the two minions…. or just Minion 2. We already had a chai wala so asking her to fetch coffee seemed like a waste of a good resource. Besides, Minion 1 now had me convinced she had the potential to kill and frankly, being poisoned is a pretty dumb way to die. I mean, who wants to be known as the idiot who fell for the oldest trick in the book.

In the end, here’s what I had:

•  Conveniently blame when things go wrong

•  Conveniently blame when bored — Just to see how things play out

•  Grab coffee

•  Ask to do actual office work

•  Get the latest office gossip

•  Use as target practice

I had spent a week on the list. Perhaps it was time to call someone with more minion experience who was willing to share her basic minion factoids. I looked up at my test subjects. Minion 1 was busy snapping pencils in two while Minion 2 seemed to be silently choking in her own pool of drool. Maybe this could still work out, I mean Minion 1 probably felt sharing office supplies would somehow decrease our cost. Perhaps she felt we were short on supplies or maybe she was, umm… Okay, why was she snapping pencils in two? As if I had asked this question out loud, Minion 1 looked up, gave me a death stare, and snapped another pencil in to two.

That was it. This whole minion ship wasn’t meant for me.  Forget the list. Now I just had two things on my agenda.

•  Kill the whale

•  Live to tell the tale.

But chances of survival diminished with every pencil that she jammed in her customized dart board with my face on it. But I was up for the challenge. It was do or die. (Or if lucky, end up with a purple eye). The next time she’d threaten me, I’d be ready. I’d look her in the eye and clearly state (and not mumble) “Bring It On B*!”

Yep, next time. For sure... Or maybe the time after that. But one day, I’d be ready.

(*We’re going to assume B stood for bossy or bully.)

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, April 21st, 2013.

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