The Artlessness of Delegation – Part 4

The nonmusical chairs…

Did you know that when climbers reach the Everest summit, they are not supposed to hang around a bit to appreciate the view from the terrace of the world?  The exhilarating feeling lasts merely a few minutes, and then it’s all downhill from there.  There is a very small club who can relate to that fleeting rush of adrenalin; and that exclusive club enrolled four new members on the afternoon of May 27 at the check-in counter of Asheville Airport.  The enrolling agent was Mrs. Ritu Nathani who was unable to produce her passport when requested for an identification document by the ticketing agent!

But these things happen to others, not to our family!  It never ever happened before, so the probability has to be zero.  The passport had to be hiding close by.  So with a sheepish smile, Ritu sat down on the floor and started emptying her big handbag in search of her missing passport.  It was not there.  I tried my pouch.  It was not there either.  Then I went through her handbag while she tried my pouch, but the situation somehow hadn’t improved in the past 60 seconds.

Clearly this was no time for a “I told you so” retort; the conditions demanded a cool analytical head.  Where could it vanish?  Only four logical options: hotel room, shopping mall, rental car, or packed luggage. Four options, four team members.  But wait—the youngest member was more like a fresher! Effectively, that left three of us to tackle the four choices. So the leader, tagged with the fresher, proceeded towards the rental car lot; Misha went all over the packed bags; and Ritu took over the double load of calling the hotel and shopping mall—partly because of her better communication skills, but more so because it was her bloody fault!

We re-collected the rental car keys and started our meticulous hunt for the runaway passport in all corners of the car.  I took over the trunk and glove compartments, while Aneesh focused around the seats and hidden corners…“Make sure to double-check blind spots around your mom’s front seat.”  I prompted Aneesh.  Soon the two defeated boys returned only to be greeted by equally disappointed girls. The Lost & Found as well as the Ralph Lauren outlet at the mall had thrown up nothing, as hadn’t the hotel reception and housekeeping. The bags were all turned over without the passport having turned up. The musical chairs now continued with reversed roles—the boys took over the assault of the already ravaged bags (in vain), while the girls charged back towards the car…

(…back to the present…) the terminal’s automatic doors unzipped, and Ritu and Misha came barging in.  Aneesh and I jumped out of our lounge chairs in full attention…“I found it, I found it”. Misha’s slender arms had navigated around and met with squashing success in the blind spot between the front passenger seat and door. Misha squealed with excitement, Aneesh sulked at his failure, Ritu mumbled something about a thank-you trip to the Shirdi shrine, while I hopelessly browsed the information monitorwe had missed the last flight to Chicago by 10 minutes! The next morning’s flight would not have made it for our prescheduled college appointments, so the Chicago trip was axed.  The two esteemed universities will never know how a 4-inch document spoiled their contention to lure a bright student!

But what about the valuable lessons on the art of ‘delegation’?  For that, my friends, you need to await the closing edition of this blog series.  Alternately, the impatient ones can try unraveling several messages hidden in the above family adventure.  For, sometimes, the family bonding time is not just about entertainment but a source of management inspiration. And talking about family entertainment, here is a bemusing exploration in a lighter (and strictly unprejudiced) spirit: In a typical “family of four”, which of the following sibling composition sounds like the most family FUN:

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Original, Delegation, Team, Style


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The Artlessness of Delegation – Part 4 - Arun Nathani Blog