Thursday, September 02, 2004

Back off, I’m trying to unwind - Published in Deccan Chronicle on 3rd September 2004

Back off, I’m trying to unwind

By Karishma Pais

Have you ever had a rough day at work? Come back home and think “At least I’ll relax at this evening’s party” and just as you begin to forget the day’s frustrations, nurse a drink, tap your feet to the music, someone comes up and says, “Doctor my son has been coughing for a while, what’s the problem?” Or to a techie, “Warcraft isn’t loading on my computer, what should I do?”

How does it feel to be questioned regarding work in a social setting? Even those in the media, while they might enjoy dining out on the odd nugget about some hotshot politico, don’t like being accosted for some insight into the current political situation. “During election time, I dread going to a party, because everyone seems to think I have an inside track on what will happen,” grumbles a hack. Politeness often makes her and the doctor/lawyer/ teacher/techie to try and veer the conversation to something that does not seem like talking shop while they really want to scream, “Back off, I’m trying to catch a break here.”

When do we draw the line between being interested in another person’s line of work and trying to get free advice? Are we justified in asking a friend’s professional opinion, especially at social gatherings? Aren’t they entitled to have conversations at dinner parties regarding something other than their work?

School teachers narrated incidents where pushy parents cornered them and gave them a hard time at social occasions. Telecom professionals said they found it irritating when people got into intense debates regarding TRAI policies. Techies complained that friends tried to get them to solve their computer problems without realizing the difference between software and hardware experts.

Dr V Koteswara Rao, Pediatrician, Apollo Hospitals says “People do ask for advice on and off. When we are trying to relax in a social gathering, we don’t like to be asked for advice, but I try to be courteous and give an answer if their problem is genuine.” Another doctor joked that people would stop asking for free advice at parties if he turned around and asked them to undress so he could do a full physical check-up.

Everyone attends social occasions to relax and take their mind off work. We need to respect that, professionals too need time off. Let’s be a little less selfish and allow them to chill and enjoy their time away from work.

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