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Meet the real power players: on alternate career paths for college students in 2020

‘What a show off!’ I smirked, as I watched the US presidential debate, ‘Just because he’s in power!’ Of the current president or the ex-VP? Nah, of the man who wagged his finger at both. The moderator, Chris Wallace, treated the potential leaders of the country like tantrum-throwing kindergartners, doling out their two minutes, snipping them off mid-sentence, rapping their knuckles for interrupting.

People in power! You’ve met enough who’ve made you squirm. Often literally. If you’ve shared a bathroom with someone who reads a 600-page novel in there, or at times you suspect is writing one, you’ll know what I mean. You’ve twisted your legs together, held your breath and bladder, whined and wheedled, but it falls on deaf ears of he who squats on the throne within.

High on the list of mega manipulators is the doctor’s assistant. Not the one who holds a needle to your arm (he’s scary enough), but the one who sits outside, yawning, yakking on the phone, and sending everyone, but you, in. ‘But I got here before them,’ you will have pleaded at least thrice in an hour. ‘Sorry, earlier appointment,’ the assistant smiles at you or ‘Babies first’ or ‘Serious emergency’ while waving in an old man who’d fallen asleep, exhibiting neither baby nor emergency. The next time, you book the earliest appointment, haul in your cousin-in-law’s protesting baby and claim breathless agony. ‘Sorry, doctor had to leave,’ says this person in power, ‘personal engagement.’

What of the guy who checks your papers? For the driving licence, application, visa, loan, claim. You know he’s always going to reject you for something you’ve forgotten. And, of course, you can’t send it by mail; you need to bring it in person and spend another four hours in the queue to reach the counter just as the ‘Out for Lunch’ sign goes up.

Plumbers whom you’d pay an arm and a leg to because your toilet keeps regurgitating. Tailors who have no time to finish the sari blouse before the wedding. Auto drivers who refuse to go anywhere on the rainiest day of the week. Power players, all.

This power game starts early. When you’re a toddler, you’re tossed into it. The lower the class, the higher the power its teacher wields. ‘If you don’t, I will tell your mother,’ she frowns while your mother resorts to ‘If you don’t, I will tell your teacher.’ Either way, you’re toast, you realise young enough.

And so, since college admissions are around the corner, here’s a list of power-careers for your child who deserves the best: Man Friday. Gate-man. Paper-pusher. Eyebrow-plucker. And that unassailable power puff who answers the door to say, ‘Madam’s not at home’. ‘Please, please, just five minutes,’ you beg, ‘I just saw her, let me only...’ ‘Sorry, what is your name again?’ Power puff shrugs. ‘Yes, Madam said to tell you she’s pukka not at home.’

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 5:45:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/jane-de-suza-on-alternate-career-paths-for-college-students-in-2020/article32811467.ece

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