His high school grades were nothing special—he earned mostly ‘B’s—but he somehow managed to convince his parents that ‘A’ stood for ‘Average’ and ‘B’ for ‘Brilliant.’
They rewarded him with a video game system, purchased with the bonus his father had received at the factory for exceeding the monthly production quota.
His parents weren’t surprised when their “brilliant” son gained admission to one of the top universities in the country. It helped, of course, that he came from a disadvantaged community, one that was vastly under-represented at the university, making him eligible not just for a quota, but also a quota within a quota. And the university, as a result, was able to collect its annual quota of government grants.
Soon after graduation, he got married and landed a job with a multinational company that prided itself in having an original employment policy, hiring and promoting people based partly on their origins. Sometimes he performed his job well and his boss would say to the human resources director, “We need to promote him. He’s quite a guy.” Other times he did his job poorly and his boss would say to the human resources director, “We need to promote him. He’s quota guy.”
About three years and two promotions later, he decided to move to America and received a job offer from a Boston firm called Gupta & Daughters, Inc. But when he tried to apply for an H-1B visa, a lawyer gave him the bad news: the government’s annual quota for foreign workers had been filled. “Try again next year,” the lawyer said. “Just don’t wait until February.”
Luckily a friend told him that immigrating to Canada was much easier. Thanks to his university degree, he had no trouble qualifying under the federal quota for English-speaking skilled workers with no medical conditions.
He and his wife arrived in the country bursting with optimism for a better life. But after months of submitting applications, he was unable to get a job in his field. To pay the rent, he reluctantly accepted a position at an electronics store, trying in vain to meet the weekly sales quota by convincing customers that buying a high-def TV without a Blu-ray player was like buying rice without dal.
Still looking at employment ads, he spotted the perfect opening at a telecom company and quickly submitted an application by email. But he didn’t hear from the company and realized that his email account wasn’t working properly. “You need to delete some of your old emails and files,” the man at the Internet service company told him. “You’ve exceeded your disc quota.”
Driving home from work the next day, he was pulled over by a police officer and slapped with a $150 speeding ticket. “But officer,” he complained, “I was only 5 km over the speed limit.” The officer just shrugged and walked away, saying to himself, “Great. I finally made my quota.”
His wife was sympathetic. She didn’t lecture him about the ticket, just patted him on the back. But when he joined her in bed that night and began to kiss her passionately, she reached for her copy of Oprah magazine.
“Sorry dear,” she said. “You already got your quota for the month.”
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