A middle aged man glares at me across the counter and i show him the appreciation is indeed mutual! He asks the umpteenth number of time- "so you can't give me a ticket now?" I now nod my head sideways pursing my mouth, careful my girl, one word out of your mouth and he will seize your throat. His next question is just what i guessed- " I want to make a complaint. Where should i give a complaint against you?" I try to imagine i am talking to the Prime Minister and put up my best smile and say- " You can please contact the Station Master to lodge a complaint, sir". There, i said it. He looks at me bewildered, why is this lady unperturbed when i say i am going to complain against her? What dear Customer Inc. doesn't know is, i have piles of complaints on me and loads of punishments handed over to me. He did complain that day, the enquiry clerk in the counter did not give me a ticket at 2.30 pm on Sunday, asked me to do whatever i can and directed to write a complaint rudely. The Complaints Inspector kind of looks at me with disdain and hands over a memorandum asking my explanation two days later. Customer dear had directly faxed the complaint to GM's Office and i am taken up for behaving rude with him. Now, the concerned section wants to close the file as soon as possible and they compel me to apologize to the concerned complainant.
Cursing dear fate, i land up at his doorstep two days later with a condescending colleague. His wife supplies coffee to us and disappears. He argues what he did was right, he never knew he could not get a reservation ticket on Sunday afternoon after 2 pm but it was my callous behavior that insulted him. My foot! He books tickets every week and knows pretty well reservation offices don't function after 2 pm on Sundays. He remains stubborn and my colleague tries his level best to convince him to withdraw the complaint. Ignorant of timings of reservation office, this learned man has directly faxed complaint to GM's office, the address of which he knows as the back of his hand! After deliberations and pleading, he finally agrees to give a withdrawal letter if i say the inevitable word- I am sorry, sir! I don't remember having done anything wrong except the fact that i directed him to the SM's room. Forced by my colleague who had already deliberated with the learned man for more than two hours, i am now in a tight fix. I have to say a simple sorry, else my colleague who has come to help me, will feel put off. To avoid an unpleasant situation, i mumble- I am sorry, sir, and step out of the house. I see the lady of the house peering through the window grills of the house and i suddenly feel so sorry for her. Imagine how life would be for her with such a man! A disaster!
It is a chilly morning in Reservation Office, raining cats and dogs outside. I try to get up from my seat for more than an hour to get to the restroom, without success. When i finally clear some rush, i see only one elderly man standing before me, writing a form. All other counters are free. I tell him earnestly- " Sir, please get the ticket in the next counter. I will be back in five minutes." He looks up at me, shrugs his shoulder and continues his writing. I lift myself up, rub my aching hands and start my walk to the restroom slowly, my pot belly pulling me back. Well into my third trimester, my delivery is due any moment and after using the restroom, i feel suddenly uneasy and sit back in the dining room. After five minutes there is commotion outside and i walk back to see what is wrong.
Our elderly man is yelling at the counter clerk nearby- " why should i come to your counter? I am here and i want to get ticket only from this counter. Ask the counter clerk to issue the ticket. I will not move from here, until she herself gives the ticket. How dare she leaves the counter for ten minutes?" This happens when all the counters are free, devoid of any living being. Ignited beyond control, already in delivery blues, i start arguing with him. My blood pressure must have sure shot like hell. Supervisor dear comes running and picks up the application from Mr High and Mighty and gives him the ticket, trying to pacify him. Mr Mighty leaves huffing and puffing. Thankfully, he forgot the incident as he had more interesting quarrels on the way back home and i am saved. Amen!
Every now and then we meet people like these- those who think themselves High and Mighty and undervalue anyone under the sun. A counter clerk is just a chit of a person who has to act as per their own whims and fancies. If not, well, they know how to teach them a lesson, don't they? Wherever i see MK Gandhi's quote- “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” I feel like laughing out aloud whenever i read this. And whenever i meet one such Customer(Kashtam-er!) all i can do is- sigh* urgh...sigh*
Interested in reading more? Check this confession of a fellow reservation clerk...