ZoZuidAs is opgezet door drie jonge vrouwen. Temidden van turbulente tijden zijn wij onze carrière begonnen op de Zuidas als advocates en bankier. Het is geen Londen, het is geen New York, maar de Zuidas staat voor een beetje zakelijke glamour in de polder. Wij beschrijven wat er leeft op die vierkante kilometer kantoorspeeltuin bij het WTC, want we kennen het wel en wee van de Zuidas van binnenuit. De kredietcrisis liet ook de Zuidas niet onberoerd. Na 3 maanden dalende billables en dagelijks terugkerende hyvesmarathons, hadden wij tijd en inspiratie om onze habitat wat beter te bekijken. Onze observaties plaatsen we sinds 2009 online. Geniet ervan en stuur de posts door! Onze stukken verschijnen o.a. in Glamour. Voor tips en commentaar zijn we te bereiken via zozuidas@gmail.com

donderdag 4 november 2010

The Apprentice

This morning I was attending a Bikram yoga class. Hyped by possibly the most scary fitness guru of all time (Madonna), Bikram yoga is more than your average stretching class for frutarians in harem pants. Bikram is boot camp.

Bikram boils down to 90 minutes of non-stop sweating whilst maintaining impossible postures at sauna temperatures. It requires extreme endurance and strict compliance with the rules: no chatting, no water, no watering, and staying in a posture until you feel like fainting or throwing up. The teacher's instructions, "Free your mind from thoughts; free your body from stress," made me think of work.

I happened to be stretched out alongside the mat of the teacher's little helper. This aspiring teacher, a woman my age, played the role of medieval servant in class. A simple nod from the teacher would make her immediately interrupt her exercise and take off running to go wipe up sweat, bring wet towels, or usher dissident practitioners back into the room. Apparently, this running of errands was considered a 'training period', a requirement to enroll in the exclusive teacher’s program.

It seemed that feudal hierarchy did not pertain to the ZuidAs alone.

The apprentice reminded me of my own position in the firm. My boss never fails to emphasize that we’re miles apart. He yells during a bilateral in his office. He interrogates me in a way that would make any public prosecutor look like a puppy. He yells during client meetings and explains his behavior as follows: “Gentlemen, excuse me for speaking up rather loudly, this purports to get it through my associate’s thick head that she may need to take some notes, hahaha.” The clients, terrified at the display of so much (abuse of) power, would silently nod in embarrassment.

The apprentice made me wonder: Why on earth are we willing to voluntarily submit ourselves to such a level of modern slavery? Contrary to the ZuidAs, for the Bikram apprentice, the salary will most probably not be the incentive. I guess the idea is that emphasizing hierarchy will make you strive for more. The exclusive position of a ZuidAs partner (or a yoga teacher) is mystified by the endurance you have to go through to get to that position in the first place. If it’s worth that much of trouble, it must be a hell of a job, right?

It’s just a pity the road seems so long, and that I am distracted in drafting any type of document for fear it will not meet expectations. I feel no responsibility for my work. In fact, I may as well go and get another cup of coffee, 'cuz, hey, I'm just the apprentice.

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