by Tranz Denz
The Story of the Trees with Hands that Moved
|The story of the trees with hands that moved is about a group of employees working for a company. When faced with an insurmountable threat that would end the way of life they have accustomed to, they are forced to deal with it.
The author, a lawyer with career spanning over 18 years steps back to view from a distance the essence of competition and attempts to explore the meaning of life.
Action is integral to life. Impressions carried from one’s environment often condition our interactions with others. Emotions come into play commonly without our conscious knowledge and especially when faced with a great threat, we forget to weigh our own worth; voices of reason lost in tumult of emotions oftentimes resulting in destructive cycles of action and reaction.
Life can be described in myriad ways. It is also a collection of experiences, of relationships and actions on one another that we as a people collectively churn in our interactions with the environment. Many a times one will be faced with difficult situations and the response at such a time will influence the progress from that point. All life competes with each other endlessly and it is actions that engender growth that are largely found sustainable.
The story is in parts consisting of an event, a fable and a discussion. The fable and event are about competition, of divergent actions and the takeaways from it.
The discussion at the end attempts a brief exploration into our place in the Universe and our relationship with existence.
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Sleep evaded Spoct. Turning over and over in bed was of no avail; he hadn’t eaten the entire day since he got the news.
He heard it too late, a first blot on his impeccable reputation as the newsman of Groove Inc., and likely to be his last, a talent that had earned him the nickname Grapes.
“Hey Grapes!” screamed Vio from across the aisle, usually the first to walk into office every day. “What the heck have you been taking? You have eyes the likes of craters on the moon!”
“Oh. Nothing that isn’t cured by a session. . .” said Spoct sportingly. Vio was one of the “in men” a brilliant guy who conceived grandiose ideas from thin air that his team members Bril and Vosto brought to conception. However without Clip and Knit, would never see light of day.
“What happened to you?” Dremer’s voice cut into his thoughts. “Perhaps a bit more of a solo last night,” Spoct fibbed dismissing him. Dremer knew more than to probe further; and with Grapes, it would never be too long. He returned to his desk and got busy.
Soon as always, the day began with energetic flurry, vocal commands thrown across impossible distances, interspersed with brief quiets and general hum of the office environment.
Sloer, the dark horse for want of lesser word, the only contender in the team to Spoct in the grapevine of office politics, settled down at his desk meticulously arranging all the loose papers and untangling the hubbub of wires on his desk. He then opened his laptop and typed his protocol of the day. It was like this, his every day, he religiously followed jotting down his duties for the day and of things he wished he might do if he had the time.
At last after he’d done, he felt refreshed, but something was at the back of his mind, he couldn’t put a finger at it exactly, but something was indeed up. He had noticed the body language of the high and mighty and stares that was a tad longer than normal or an inexplicable sudden lowering of conversations as he sauntered into the office canteen. He felt oddly disturbed, though none of it might have the chance of anything to do with him. If there were a person who might know anything, it would be Grapes sitting beside him. As always he never noticed any body as he came in to office except those directly in his path, whom he wished the usual “morning” with a stiff vertical shift of his head and had as usual not noticed Grapes hunched on his computer beside him in a dim lit corner of the office with a busted overhead lamp that had not been attended to since the time he had first sat down at his cubicle.
He now leaned across to Grapes and whispered guardedly, “Hey Grapes…” And Spoct turned his head to look at him.
A shock travelled through Sloer’s spine, for in the diffuse light Spoct looked hideous with dark circles under his eyes; was he not all right the previous day? … He might have not noticed. Both stared at each other and Sloer started nervously, “Um, eh, something wrong?” Without a word Spoct went back to his computer but raised a hand as if to say he will connect later.
As expected the email arrived and Spoct scanned the contents; all were instructed to assemble at the conference room in the evening at 5.00 PM for an important announcement. Though Spoct was prepared, the finality of it all rattled him. He turned and snapped at Sloer. “Get Dremer and the others pronto!” Sloer didn’t wait to protest the abruptness.
In a while, he had full attendance. Spoct surveyed the modest gathering; faces looked at him wide-eyed in alarm. Sloer’s given a briefing, he thought.
Without mincing words, he gave it to them, his voice a mixture of despair and inevitability. “The Downsizing is upon us . . . !” And no sooner had the words left him than the shoulders dropped, faces puffed and general venting and cussing began. They knew it would happen; it was only a question of when.
It was not lost to them that they, probably all of them were to bear the brunt.
As in most organisations, people knew their push, some deluded themselves and let things be; others strived to become more in their own ways, their efforts mirroring their outlook. For some, the price was irrelevant and to some others a constant dilemma.
Spoct and his band were not the Geeks of Groove Inc., though they landed occasional projects, were largely more or less assigned tasks that helped assist the Geeks and reduce their burden on the laborious, the less complex; at best they were dispensable. Being aware of their status, it was a mix of putting in longer hours, pandering to Geeks and plagiarising that many adopted to stay abreast. From a team of ten the hardy and original among them survived to be five a year ago and did well to persist. Collectively they were small cog in Groove Inc’s two hundred plus strong employee pool.
During the past several months, intense competition was gathering speed on account of fresh, better skilled entrants that sought to occupy space in an industry that did not have any significant additions to the overall customer base. Shedding was happening everywhere across departments and companies, having a telling effect on Spoct and his team who were on edge all the time.
Now they sat at the conference fingers crossed for the speaker to arrive.
“Good evening everybody! Sorry for the short notice, but something very important has come up.” He paused checking the assembly and continued, “As you all may already be aware, the industry is going through a grave crises, orders have dried up and we will be surviving merely on reserves a month or two from now. So therefore I have good and bad news for you all today.” He paused again, this time a little longer, scanning the faces for any reactions and sensing none, he continued. “Let me assure you first that all options have been considered in laborious detail during the weeks before this announcement and have come to the inescapable conclusion that we have to downsize and drastically too,” he stopped abruptly, anticipating angry outbursts and steeling himself. However, the faces he scanned were set as if in stone, none moved or displayed any emotion. He could understand the Geeks but of the others he was puzzled. He continued, “Now let me give you the good news, Groove Inc., is an incomparable organisation, we give equal opportunity to all and therefore we have devised a plan where the best will always have a chance to remain with us and towards that end, we will have both our teams work on our latest project as competition and may the best win!” He paused again this time panning his face a deep left to right and back. “Any questions?” he asked raising his eyebrows tilting his body forward as if to respond to the first one that was coming his way. Receiving none, he straightened instantly and wrapped up. “Well then, you are all dismissed for now; details will be sent before close of day, good luck to all of you!”
He was relieved to be out of there, his body all damp inside his coat, the tie choking him.
Having had wind of Company’s plans; the speech was not easy on him.
Reputation was everything; the fight to manoeuvre into the best position was getting dirtier and Groove Inc. will to do everything right to the last little detail.
“We are... teem - bee...” mockingly mouthed Sloer, spitting out the piece of bone stuck in his teeth that he’d been absentmindedly drawing out for some time, and to his chagrin ricocheted off the rim of an empty vessel on the floor causing an instant high pitched sound and climbing rapidly impaled itself in a cloth on the clothesline above, hanging there swaying side to side.
“It is all a sham,” said Wand watching the swaying piece of bone, “The Geeks will win anyways; a polite way of saying, please tender in your resignations and get out of here.”
“But they have given us a fair chance,” countered Tangel setting his glass down on the skirting of the terrace against which he was leaning. “Both teams are to work separately on the project and it’s up to us to prove our worth... no free lunch, people.”
“You are missing the point Tang, why would they waste resources in this manner, even considering they only have a single project, wouldn’t it be easier to combine resources and get the product out faster,” said Spoct and continued. “Unless...”
“Unless... they don’t even consider us a resource!” exclaimed Wand looking like he’d just solved the Rubik cube.
Silence descended upon the group that had gathered on Spoct’s rooftop as the implications of Wand’s words dawned on them. Dremer quickly downed the remaining liquid in his glass and spoke for the first time. “We need to get this sorted out as quickly as possible.” Simultaneously all eyes turned on Spoct, waiting. “I’ll have my resources on this right away,” he offered gravely and added, “Let’s schedule a session mid week this time and by then I will have something.” There was huge admiration for Spoct among the team, his reputation nevertheless, most of whom that had survived the gradual attrition owed him in some way.
It was a difficult affair trying to sleep that night. Wand, Tangel and to some extent even Sloer lived paycheck to paycheck. Though Spoct owned his dwelling, the banks chomped off him substantially every month. None had a clue of Dremer and his resources, however they had a feeling he might not be too far off from them. The whole team was facing a crisis.
“So you have got the instructions,” announced Vosto having come up silently close behind where Sloer sat, alarming him. Sloer composed himself in a second. “Sort of... still sorting, what about you, all figured?” “We’re working on the plans already,” Vosto stated gleefully. “You’re sure you got the same thing; because I’m having a bit of trouble here,” pleaded Sloer. “Wouldn’t know unless I peek and that isn’t allowed, you see.” “Come on now Vost, from when have we been bound by rules, besides... I’ll be the one breaking, be my guest. Vosto studied the contents of the mail for a few minutes, flipping pages back and forth on the screen. At length he drew himself up with a nonplussed expression on his face. “It’s the same, every word, what’s troubling?”
Sloer stared at his face taking a moment searching and announced. “If this is the whole project, it’s not going to sell!” He waited for a moment for it to sink in and continued, now agitatedly. “Don’t you see; this can’t be the whole thing!” The flicker of doubt in his colleague’s face and drop in confidence reassured Sloer somewhat that the Geek wasn’t faking. Both faced each other eye-to-eye for a moment. “Probably there are additional modules,” conceded Vosto hesitantly, looking away wondering why he hadn’t thought in that direction.
“Well then, with the timelines they have given, it better not be; though I can’t guess how it can be reconciled, unless this whole affair is a sham and we are crumbling en-masse!” thundered Sloer, now becoming ever more vociferous. “I am going to the VC, are you with me?” “Sure, I’ll tag along,” managed Vosto.
The VC was the typical middle-aged slightly balding and bespectacled personas one would find in most offices and the teams had interacted with him intermittently on several occasions. He now watched the two walking towards his office through the transparent glass with a coating that let in light from the outside but not so much from the inside.
“May we come,” asked Sloer opening the door all the way in. “Sure come in; have a seat. How’re you all doing!” he greeted, beaming at them and no sooner had they seated than he added, still beaming, “Rearing to go... or going... I suppose!” Sloer didn’t register the tint of sarcasm. The VC appeared pleased, enthusiastic and all ears. “So, how may I help you?”
Sloer was in his elements, if there were any protocols, he wasn’t even thinking and started in righteous indignation. “We haven’t received the entire project and I wonder why? I am concerned if there are additional materials which I am sure there ought to be, the project cannot be complete within the timelines indicated, and I don’t have a clue how this could have come to pass, would you care to explain?” he demanded staring blankly at the VC and realising late that he’d started in a manner that precluded smooth landing; but to his credit, maintained eye contact.
The VC stared back for a moment, but wasted no time. Waving his hands in the air as if brushing the accusations away, he got his ponderous bulk off his chair. “I apologise unconditionally.” And coming around placing his hands on their shoulders explained, “I should have mentioned sooner, at least of the fact that client wanted some modifications. We could not release that part until specifications were approved in total.” He looked at them in the eye, his tone solemn. “You have nothing to worry; the new timelines and complete project will reach you before the weekend, be rest assured everything is fine.” He paused briefly. “In the meanwhile you could use the time to fine tune your approach,” he added, all smiles.
“The weekend!” exclaimed Wand looking bewildered. “Before,” corrected Tangel.
Ignoring him Wand continued, “Why go through all that sham at the meeting, now to admit this, it doesn’t make sense.” Wand’s pessimism seldom failed to prod Tangel and he intervened, “They did explain and apologise didn’t they?”
“Hey let’s analyse this instead of talking in circles,” Dremer cut in and turned to Sloer, “What did Vost tell you, what do you figure?” “Found him straight, at least to my eyes he wasn’t faking and I am pretty good at picking fakers, they have got the same deal word to word.”
The team went silent, each in their thoughts. Then Sloer announced abruptly, “Spoct has texted saying he’ll be here in an hour and he’s got news.” Dremer started as if he had not heard Sloer, “Say if they want us out, what would be the best way...?” “Easy,” jumped in Wand. “They’ll just let us be.” “And if they wanted to make sure?” asked Dremer, his eyebrows raised and added. “Remember there are strict timelines and first past the post with the right goods makes it. Let’s face it, we haven’t worked conception to delivery on projects half as that of the Geeks and the Company would always go with the more experienced, but we certainly are no pushovers after so much time in the organisation…And,” he continued, focussed on his train of thought vocalising every phrase. “Now - we have this - weekend thingy - what if…”
As usual Wand completed the sentence. “...Bril or Vio are the only ones in the know!” He appeared pleased with himself.
Confused Tangel could not hold it any longer, “You mean to say the part about client modifications by the VC is a farce?” “It might not be a farce but it may not be the complete truth either,” answered Dremer.
“And you are right,” said Spoct, as he made entrance.