Friday, February 16, 2007

I am sorry for the Americans

This is my 5th visit to the US. Like a few other trips earlier, I landed on a cold cold winter. Earlier I had entered the US from Boston's Logan. This time, it was Detroit. My team of developers huddled in a van and drove off to a hotel in the southern suburb.

After dropping our luggage, we drove to a grocery store to pick up some snacks and essentials. Everytime I visit the US in winter, I make it a point to buy an anti-static spray. This time I had a laptop and didn't want to damage it with static current from my hands. The stores hadn't changed much, more or less the same set of products I saw three years ago.

I spent a lot of time watching TV in the evenings after returning from work. It is sub-zero C outside. Two news items that caught the attention yesterday.

Two old men had died when they were clearing their driveway of snow. No doubt this is a sad event for the respective families. People need to be totally insensitive to make a news out of this. A common observation in such news items is - there must be a villain in the story. One lady blamed the blizzard for the death. The man had had three bye-pass surgeries, was over 70 years of age and a mildest strain could have been fatal for him. If it were not the blizzard, he might have died when mowing his lawn or just watching football.

To blame someone probably comes naturally to many. My son started attending play school in the US when he was three. He could hardly speak a full sentence in Tamil or English. But he managed to learn - 'tis your fault' within the first month. This trend goes all the way up the career path where Managers always want to assign a head to a failure. This has caught up in Desi land too. I don't blame the lady in the news item or my son or my boss - assigning a head as a reason for failure gives a nice closure to the problem. So and so screwed up and there ends the matter. Even in the ancient period - 'புள்ளும் பொழுதும் பழித்தோர் அன்றி உள்ளிச்சென்றோர் பழியலர்'.

The reason I find this strange is because of my ability to see the whole instead of the single failure. An action happens with so many factors that we don't give credit for. If my team released a successful product, every team member, the employer, the market and the economy and in turn the man on street - are all behind the success. Similarly, if it fails, one of them might not have helped the success. In that case, just accept defeat and move on.

The other event that happened yesterday was the job at Chrysler. For someone from India, where such a massive job cuts aren't common nowadays, it is shocking. I am really sad for the people who would be jobless and have to wait for the dole from the government. The consolation is, there is at least a government that will care for them for some time.

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