N.S. Gobalakrishnan (Branch Manager, later Regional Manager, The Hindu, Coimbatore -1980s and 1990s)
In any company or organization, when there are bad managers, they are usually surrounded by some staff who are sycophants. That sales representative was one such man. He would always behave in such a way that he was a loyal worker for the company and that the other staff are working against the company's interest. He would like to display his royalty to the company in any action that he takes, even to the point of faking reality. I will write more about him in future posts, here it will suffice to bear in mind that he was the darling of the branch manager.
As I had written in my first post, within a few months of taking over the dispatch work, I wrote a letter to the head office asking for a news agency at Ramanathapuram area in Coimbatore on the advice of the sales representative who was very close to the branch manager, and who was obviously taking instructions from him in asking me to do so.
I thought while writing that letter that he was thinking of offering me that news agency as it was near the Coimbatore office and it would help me run the dispatch work more efficiently by helping me to recruit boys for the dispatch work. Also, I thought that this was in keeping with his promise of offering a News Agency to me when I accepted the dispatch work as the dispatch work itself was not a rewarding one financially but involved enormous responsibility.
But the branch manager, while he had asked me through this sales representative to write a letter asking for the agency to the head office, had some others in his mind to offer that agency, which I came to know only much later, by which time I had settled in this work and could not return to my earlier job as a computer operator in an accounting cum share broking office in Coimbatore, which I regret leaving to this day, to take the responsibility of running the dispatch work. I was asked to write that letter so that he can bargain with the head office that if the Ramanathapuram agency was bifurcated then only he can have a contractor for the dispatch work, and after a decision was made to bifurcate the agency by the head office, he can find some excuse for not offering the agency to me and offer it to the person he had in mind for some personal gain for him.
I have already written about the benefits and advantages for The Hindu having a contractor run the dispatch work than the office itself taking the responsibility, which it had been doing earlier before my joining as dispatch contractor. The manager used these benefits and advantages to the company as bargaining points with the higher management and tried to bifurcate the Coimbatore agency. Besides, the Coimbatore agent was a close relative of one of the owners, and he had to state strong reasons for bifurcation, and this makes my work in the dispatch section as that much more important and significant.
One would wonder why I was asked to write a letter asking for the agency at Ramanathapuram instead of he himself asking the head office to bifurcate the Coimbatore Agency stating the reasons for the necessity of such a move. First of all, he did not want anyone in the management to know that he was interested in such a move because he was the sole authority who looked after the process of appointing the new agent, and he did not want anyone in the management (above his level in the hierarchy of management) think that he has some personal motives in asking for such a decision.
If I write a letter to the head office, then he would be asked, as the Branch Manager concerned, whether there was a need for such a bifurcation, and whether it would serve any purpose that would be beneficial for the company, then he would reply that "everyone" wants the bifurcation and that it would certainly lead to increase in circulation and better service being offered to the readers such as early delivery of the newspaper, etc., if a new agent is appointed for the area "who can run a news agency efficiently." This would make the top management believe that he did not have any personal motive in this matter and that he would only bring to their attention when issues are raised by others and that he would not come into picture only when asked by the top management. This was what made him ask me to write the letter asking for Ramanathapuram agency through the sales representative.
The Branch Manager has the confidence and support of the top management of the company, but he had some problems with the middle management of the company, who knew that he has been making some gain in the appointment of new agents, particularly agencies having more than 500 copies. When an agency change comes in centers served by the Coimbatore office, there would be great activity going on in the Branch Manager's room with that sales representative moving in and out of his room and if there is going to be some monumental changes are being discussed that is going to change the whole office beyond recognition with some veiled secrecy behind the whole episode known only to those two persons.
Usually when such a change is being considered for an agency of around 500 copies or more, only that sales representative would be sent to make that change. During my working as a dispatch contractor there, I had witnessed such agency changes in centers like Udumalpet, Karur, Tirupur, and centers in the suburban areas of Coimbatore like Madukkarai. That sales was sent to collect applications from prospective agents in that area - usually sub agents of various newspapers working in that area - but everyone in the branch office knew that the agent had already been selected before the collection of those applications, and whenever any one of such applicant visited the office, he would be looked by the staff with such a pity that I wondered if that applicant knew the fate of his application from the atmosphere that he observed in the office.
But when I was asked to write that letter, I did not know his motives or his intentions. I came to understand them only much latter. I realized much later that I was offered the dispatch work in the first place not with the intention of the move being helpful to the office in running the dispatch work efficiently nor with any intention to help me but specifically for a man to write a letter to the head office asking for the Ramanathapuram agency and thus bifurcate the Coimbatore agency and offer to someone he had in mind for his personal gain.
The way in which the Circulation Manager handled the issue raised a question in my mind whether he was using me to hurt the Branch Manger in every way possible - as he was a favorite of the top management and he had his own grudge against him - and I began to wonder,"Is the Circulation Manager also a Jerk?" I will write about those things in my future posts.