The Human Resources Department of Commonplace Fun Facts thought they had heard every excuse for not coming into the office. “I can work just as well from home.” “The commute is too long.” “My co-workers make me feel bad by mocking my awkward social skills.” These are just a handful of reasons
I have given some lazy folks have used to justify their requests to telecommute.
As it turns out, there is one rationale that had yet to make it to our H.R. specialists’ ears. We learned about it this week when we read about the 2018 saga of Rameshchandra Fefar, then a superintending engineer with the Sardar Sarovar Punarvasvat Agency (SSPA) in the Indian state of Gujarat. His excuse for not showing up to work for eight months is that he can’t be bothered with such mundane things as coming into the office, inasmuch as he is far too busy being Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Vishnu is one of the principal deities in Hinduism. He is the supreme being who creates, protects, and transforms the universe. That, one would assume, would be more than a full-time job, but Fefar says he is managing it quite well, thank you. On top of that, he is much more productive working from home as he executes his dual roles of supreme protector of the universe and superintending engineer for SSPA.
Fefar’s employer served him with a “show-cause notice.” Our legal department’s exhaustive research into Indian human resources law (consisting, essentially, of a quick search on Quora), revealed that a “show-cause notice” is a level of escalation in a dispute between employer and employee. Step one is a warning letter, such as:
Hey, buddy! We couldn’t help but notice that you’ve been absent a bit lately. In fact, no one remembers seeing you in the office since September or so. We hope there’s nothing serious going on and sure do miss you. Hope to see you back at your desk soon.
Love and kisses,
The next step appears to be a strict warning letter, which cranks matters up a notch:
Dear Mr. Fefar:
It has come to our attention that although you have been most diligent in cashing your paycheck, other aspects of your responsibilities may be a tad lacking. Perhaps it has slipped your mind, but you have an office and a desk here, and for the past several months, they haven’t been used for anything other than collecting dust.
We most assuredly would love to see some evidence that we are getting something in exchange for your salary. Please be advised that if you do not return to work, we will be forced to write you an even more strongly-worded letter.
The Big Boss
Depending on the level of severity and the patience level of senior management, the next step might be a sternly-strict warning letter. We were unable to find a good sample of such correspondence, but we assume it is punctuated with multiple angry eyebrow emojis (😠😠😠).
If these warning letters do not produce the desired effect, the employer must then send a “show-cause notice.” This is a formal request for the employee to submit a written explanation for why he or she shouldn’t be disciplined. Essentially, it looks like this:
Dear Mr. Fefar (a/k/a Lord Vishnu):
Look, we really mean it this time…. In the time since you have last been in the office, the seasons have changed twice, there have been three named hurricanes, the United States has held a presidential election, Nicolas Cage got married for the fifth time, and Johnny Depp has spent approximately $16 million.
Please take notice that you are requested and required to provide a written explanation of why we should not proceed to the next stage of discipline. If we are forced to do so, you may very well receive a letter from us that contains some very cross words.
Please note that we really mean business here. Case in point: this letter is printed on official-looking letterhead. Your days of skating by with warnings on My Little Pony notebook paper are long gone!
Hoping you are well,
In other words, based upon our interpretation of things, an 18-year-old who gets a job in some parts of India can play the game and not work a day in his life; he will be drawing a pension long before the process for termination runs out.
But we digress….
When Mr. Fefar received his “show-cause notice,” informing him that he has only been in the office for 16 days out of the past eight months, he was gracious enough to respond and say that he resented the implication that he wasn’t working for the past eight months. He was, in fact, quite busy, explaining, “I am doing penance at home by entering into [the] fifth dimension to change the global conscience.” He added, “I can’t do such penance sitting in my office.”
At first, we were inclined to cut him some slack, assuming he was entering into The 5th Dimension, the pop group known for the toe-tapping 1967 song, “Up Up & Away in My Beautiful Balloon.” Since that musical group disbanded in 1975, and all attempts to get it going again have been a mockery of the group’s original greatness, we quickly determined Fefar was talking about something else. What that “something else” is, however, is less than clear. It no doubt will be disclosed in a future “show-cause — we really mean it this time — notice.”
Fefar was persuaded to step away from his penance/preservation/pop-song responsibilities long enough to talk to the press. In an interview with the Deccan Chronicle, Fefar said, “Even if you don’t believe it, I am indeed the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and I will prove it in coming days.” (Editor’s Note: As of this writing, that proof has yet to be forthcoming. Presumably, Fefar is having difficulty locating his “Incarnations of Vishnu Identification Card.” The details as to what his “penance” is and why he couldn’t do that from his office were also quite scant.)
Fefar said he had realized he was the god’s 10th manifestation, Kalki, while in his office in March 2010. He labored under this knowledge and profound responsibility for over seven years but finally decided he couldn’t keep wasting time commuting when he could have been putting his divine powers to better use from home.
Fefar explains that his duties are just too important to blow off just because somebody wants him to come into work more often. He is, after all, the one responsible for making it rain, and India has enjoyed plentiful rainfall for the past 19 years (although, to be fair, he should only take credit for pulling this off since 2010, since that’s when he realized he had the job). He mentions this point in an off-handed way, much like a mafia thug making a veiled threat. “Nice little rain shower we’ve been enjoying, isn’t it? Be a shame if that were to stop, wouldn’t it?”
Showing that he’s not unreasonable or inflexible, Fefar did concede that he would start coming in more frequently if his employer absolutely insisted upon it. He cautioned, however, that his boss should think about the potential consequences and decide “whether it’s more important … to make me sit in the office and [let] time pass or [to let me] do some concrete work to save the country from drought.”
Fefar’s issues with his employer made the news in 2018. Despite an exhaustive search of the internet, we were unable to find any updates, other than the fact that his Facebook profile identifies him as “Kalki-avatar”, and that he is now a “retired superintending engineer.” The “Work” section of his profile notes that he has been working at “Penance” since July 1, 2019. Whether this means he had to restart his penance or that became the date at which he had no other responsibilities to keep him from full-time penance, we can only speculate.
In his defense, the record is quite clear that in 2018, when he was distracted by all the hullabaloo about coming into the office, Gujarat received only 91% of its normal rainfall. The next year — the one in which Fefar starting really pouring himself into penance — rain levels for the state were normal. In 2020, presumably the first full year in which there were no engineering responsibilities (not to mention troublesome daily commutes), the rainfall was 110% of normal.
We think the evidence is fairly conclusive.
We also found several videos on YouTube, in which Fefar appears. Unfortunately, they all appear to be in Gujarati or some other Indian language. Despite running the audio through the most sophisticated language translation software at our disposal (the Google Translate app on an iPad), we were able to capture only a few disjointed comments that failed to translate the same way twice. Taking the software at its word, Fefar was passionately expounding about the “choking hazards of peacocks,” “rice pudding between my toes,” or “squishy reporters are wet paint.” None of those interpretations seemed to fit the context of matter at hand, but we admit to being a bit under-educated in the field of deities working from home.
Despite all the fame surrounding Fefar’s circumstances, his Facebook page shows him to be strangely — and sadly — devoid of friends. This apparently confirms the adage that it’s lonely at the top. We think he would do well to reach out in friendship to this gentleman, who tried to rob a bank while under the protective invisibility spell of a wizard. Somehow, we suspect the two of them would hit it off.