"Anjali" said the boss with a pained expression. "Why are you so...so..." he faltered as he searched for a suitable word, “...so cheap!" he finished with a look of shame and grief.
"I am cheap I know," I said defensively "but I have my reasons." I finished my voice quavering. My face burnt with shame.
“What could be a possible reason for this!!!” exclaimed the boss in a pained voice!
“There are somethings you won’t understand” I said resignedly.
“Try me.” said the boss kindly.
“I cannot manage with the money I get. So I have to do this to make ends meet" I explained my eyes welling up with tears.
“But there are more honorable ways to make ends meet you know!" exclaimed the Boss.
“This is my business!" I said firmly. I didn’t want to be judged by people who did not know what my circumstances were. That was none of their business. I do my work to the best of my abilities and people should confine themselves to that!
Boss sighed and looked away. He couldn’t look at me. It is sometimes hard to accept certain indigestible facet of a person you thought you knew well. I could not meet his eyes either. As I walked away I could feel his gaze boring into my back. I didn’t have to turn back. I knew there was anguish in his eyes.
On the other side of the cubicle the other marketing managers sniggered. Everyone had heard the exchange. Everyone knew. My ears burned. But I walked out off the floor my head held high.
Boss looked at my receding back for sometime and got back to work with a heavy heart. He took out the pens that I had ordered for the event and looked at the bill. Each pen cost Rs 5/-. He sighed. How could he give these low cost pens to the people who would attend the event he wondered? What would they think?
He opened the box of pens the other team had ordered. They were Rs 15/- a piece. Boss thanked his stars that the team was able to spare him some for his event. He took out the fifteen rupee pens gratefully and...almost passed out when he beheld them. It was the exact same type of pens that I had ordered!! But unlike his smart, astute, sharp, shrewd, canny, clever, streetwise, and very intelligent and sophisticated marketing communications manager, his peer's marketing managers had paid Rs 15/- a piece!!
He never called his Marcom manager cheap again…for some time (He has a short memory). She on the other hand bought Nike Tee Shirts for the entire team with the money she saved.
Conversation heard on the floor the next day.
Boss of other teams to their Marketing Managers: Look at that Silverine's team members. Always wearing Nike, Reebok or Adidas Tee Shirts. Why do we have to wear these saggy baggy Tirupur T shirts? Why are you all so cheap?????