This incident relates to the time when I had joined a big firm as an engineer. I was quite excited about my job and was happy to be part of a friendly and supportive team. I was good at what I was doing and received lot of motivation and appreciation throughout for my work. Nothing more could be added to this perfectly new workplace, which gave me both satisfaction and success. It all looked and felt so perfect that I often wondered if it was real.
But soon I noticed that I was being praised a little too much by my boss. He was being extra generous to me. He gave me bigger responsibilities and included me in meetings and discussions which were way above my level.
Although it was a great learning experience, it brought doubts in my head about my capabilities, expectations and my boss’ behavior. He was a great coach and guided me well – much to the surprise of my friends in the team. They often teased me about being his favorite but I did not let that bog me down and continued to put in the hard work.
Initially I enjoyed the attention I was being showered upon by my boss. There was no way I could think of it as something unusual. I worked hard and he praised me. I took his compliments as a reward to my consistent hard work and service diligence.
I took it all as a good managerial trait from his side. But there was one problem. He was married and that made his generosity look awkward to me. My boss was a senior executive, married to a smart and good looking woman who worked as a manager in our office itself. They looked like a happy family – executive husband, manager and beautiful wife and a cute kid.
Things took a major turn when one day he called me and said that he was nearby my house and was exhausted after a long walk so wanted to relax and have coffee. He asked if my father was at home and if he could come over for a coffee. Though it was strange, I could not say no. How could you deny coffee to someone at home? He came to my house, had good conversation with my father, drank coffee and left. All this seemed unusual to me but I did not want to think too much about it.
Post this incident, I noticed that he had gathered quite a lot of information about me. He found out about me and my friends and often quoted things about me from my Facebook wall. He did it so smartly that it was only me who could understand his pointers.
He quoted examples related to things I had done in life but made sure that the quote had an anonymous reference. He had read about my school and college education and often mentioned them in meetings making references to my achievements. He would later tell me that he was very impressed with my accomplishments and was proud of me and give me details about that stint in life.
There was nothing about his actions which was offensive in any way – that I could go ahead and complain to the others. He was only being a very good mentor figure and trying to help me succeed in my life – as per a few of my friends who I confided in. Everyone felt that I was probably over thinking. But this went on for a few months and I started losing interest in the work I was doing. It made me feel that if I do it well then he will praise me in front of the others and I was getting more and more uncomfortable with this extra attention. I began to perform poorly so that I could remain in the background. It was around this time that I realized there was some hidden agenda behind his actions.
He was good to me and I tried my best to avoid him in every way possible, which was difficult since I was working with him in the same team and he was my mentor. He constantly encouraged me and provided avenues for me to excel. He said things about my friends and incidents that he had read online on my friends’ blogs etc and claimed that he knew a lot about me, much more than I could imagine.
Not knowing how to handle this, I secretly wished he did something offensive so that I could ask him to go away. Finally, something happened.
On my birthday, as a surprise gift, he gifted me a beautiful book with my pictures (taken from my facebook and orkut profiles), photoshopped them like a pro and created a personalized memory of each year of my life – 30 odd pages that showcased the year by year journey of my life starting from the age of 5. He gave the gift to me and I was shocked with the details he had gathered and presented in it.
But I was appalled with this gesture. Even though it was the most personalized gift I had received so far and also the one that asked for the highest amount of efforts, I wasn’t happy with it.
This gift clearly showed his infatuation for me and I realized it was time for me to put an end to it even though I wasn’t a party to it.
I thought about the consequences – I might lose the job; he might shout at me; he might blame me for encouraging me – but I decided not to care about them. I didn’t want to be a married man’s muse and nor I wanted him to take my silence as acceptance.
With a brave face and several doubts in my heart, I met him in a conference room. I thanked him for his gift but also told him that I was very uncomfortable with what all he was trying to do.
To my surprise, he immediately understood my thoughts and agreed to what I said. He agreed to put a stop to all that. Our meeting lasted for less than 2 mins. Next day we learnt that he had left our team and joined another project.
He wasn’t in my team anymore. I felt relaxed in office though I missed his guidance at times. I often wonder if I did the right thing. Did I over react to his kindness towards me? Or was he really obsessed with me?
But whenever I meet his lovely wife, I get reassured that I did the right thing.
That I stopped things before they could start.
That we should trust our instincts and take actions whenever things become uncomfortable for us.
That we should try to be safe than sorry.
Pic Source: here