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|Volume 11 |Issue 09| March 02, 2012 ||
Rudeness at Your Service
The other day, I went to a well known department store, which had high-tech vending machines and smartly dressed staffs. I could not help but feel proud of the fact that our country is moving ahead in terms of promoting business and finally developing good marketing skills. However, I had been quick to judge it seems as when I asked a staff member standing around filing her nails she hardly took her eyes away from her nails and said that the brand I was looking for was not there. Now it may well be that she was very well aware of what was available on the shelves of the store and if so, it would have been very commendable but her indifferent attitude was a bit off-putting. And I would have been okay with it had I not noticed that the shelf she was leaning against had rows of the brand of shampoo that I wanted. When I told her so, she just shrugged, still not looking away from her nails. I was so disappointed by her behaviour I could not help but think that we actually have a long way to go in terms of working on and prioritising customer service, which requires more than just nice clothes and pretty faces.
My cousin keeps a thick stick inside the car she drives. When I asked her the reason for keeping it, she came up with the most unexpected answer. As a young woman, she explained, it is difficult to drive in Dhaka without being harassed. When the rule of law on the road is almost non-existent, such sticks take the place of a vigilante.
One night, while driving home through Panthapath, she found the left lane of the Russel Square crossing completely blocked by luxury buses. She kept honking in vain. Instead of making way for her, one luxury bus backed-up and hit her car's front bumper. She got out with the stick and hit the side of the bus hard. The shocked bus manager came out shouting at her whether she had gone crazy, whether she knew how much the bus cost and telling her that three of her cars couldn't pay for the damage. She immediately retorted, “Call your owner and tell him that I am filing a case and I shall see about the damages in court.” With that she raised her stick to hit the bus again and the manager realised that she meant what she said. He apologised to her and instructed the driver to move and clear the left lane. After she finished the story, I could not help but salute the stick.
The Irony of Fate
There was a huge jam and all the vehicles seemed to be glued to one another. I was already late for work and was hopelessly looking around for any lucky glimpse of an empty rickshaw. As I started walking at full speed I could see a group of youngsters gathered in a corner busy with their mobile phones. I assumed that they were watching something they should not and bunking school as I noticed their backpacks lying on the pavement. I took a turn towards a narrow lane when a rickshaw puller drove his rickshaw towards me. The driver was a teenager and he was clad in jeans and T-shirt, rather unusual attire for a rickshaw puller. As I hopped on, much relieved that I would be able to reach my workplace in time, I told him to hurry. The boy struggled his way through the heavy traffic. Eventually our rickshaw halted to another unbearable traffic signal and there was nothing to do but wait for it to dissolve. As I waited, I could not help but ask the boy why he had chosen this work when he should be at school. The boy was at first reluctant to answer but then narrated his story with a heavy heart.
His father was a rickshaw puller and had to hand over his work to his son because of health problems. Before that, he used to go to school but now he has to support his poor family and hence give up school.
As I tried to console him, he replied with a lot of dignity in his voice that he would go back to school as soon as his family's economic condition improved. I was proud of the boy's self-confidence but saddened by the thought of the youngsters I saw earlier who had all the resources to study but they were wasting them. It is indeed ironic to see the inequality in our society.
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