Courtesy Clip Art
Ever since we tasted blood in the early 1990s, spoilt for choice and swamped by attention, the royal customer mantle has been used in every possible way to seek the spotlight. It has been many times over that we have seen a person behind the counter fencing queries from customers who swoop down on that lone defender from every angle and with every emotion in the emoticon card. Let me take you two such scenarios.
A visit to a local mobile network provider last evening saw a lone girl behind the counter handling four customers simultaneously. While I was seated in front of her to address an erratic network connection, another stood right behind me whining about his new connection, whether he needed to pay right then, having taken the connection. The third strides in brandishing his sim card whimpering that it does not work. The fourth wanted his documents accepted so he could legitimately jump the queue to be heard. And all this while I waited patiently to let the young lady come back to my problem since I was first in the line. I could almost see the wheels within her mind rotating furiously trying to resolve one issue per 10 rotations. It filled me with sympathy to see her fighting off these predators in various guise. When the whining and the yelling got a little too uncomfortable in that tiny cabin, I finally raised my voice enough to be heard around that 4m by 2m space that please lady if you could concentrate on one customer at a time the confusion could be sorted out much easily. This was more for those of my ilk than the young girl. And went on to add that the people behind the counters in India need to be awarded for their inhuman ability to simultaneously tackle so many customers, and most of them irate ones. She threw me a grateful look.That brought in a bit of uncomfortable silence only to be resumed ( hence proved we have a very short memory). A bulldozed conversation flowed...
"My new sim isn't working"
"I'll have to check it"
"I've already checked it and I'm telling you so"
The girl extracts it and inserts it in a different handset. Barely a minute later she declares that sim is indeed not working.
"Arey! That is what I'm trying to tell you for the last fifteen minutes"
"But sir, I am attending to this lady here. In any case I have to follow a procedure..."
She has barely finished her sentence when the whining one with his new toy butts in
"... will I get a huge bill?"
"Sir, you will get a bill according to the plan you have opted for"
Going back to the forced irate customer "Sir, you will have to provide the documents and a photograph for a new sim..."
"...how do I charge this dongle..." and " But why should I submit documents again?"
Two different queries needed to be handled in two different ways. Despite her training I'm sure she must have felt like pulling out one's hair and smacking the other one right across his face.
All this while the third customer is still trying to push his documents through every available space he can get between the flaying arms.
The sun is sending out the last rays of the day. The vendors are hurriedly setting up their vegetables in neat piles with each colour accentuating the one next to it. The bright red tomatoes highlighting the green slender beans. The white mushrooms in blue plastic container packs sit on a heap of okras. The vendor with a gamcha holding up his weary trousers sitting on his haunches, is cleaning each carrot before placing them on a pile. A woman is already sorting out her okras into a basket. Another one arrives scanning the produce quickly.
"How much for the carrots, bhaiyya?"
"Twenty rupees for half a kilo"
" So expensive! Give me for fifteen rupees..."
"No Madam, even I bought them at a higher rate. I don't make much as it is"
While the haggling is on a well dressed man, presumably on his way back from office stops by and takes stock of the price which the seller rattles off at one breath. As an aside he swiftly calculates the rate of 150 grams of bitter gourds that I pick. The fifth customer arrives and prodding the vegetables asks the price of every vegetable one by one.
"How much for the carrots? "
"Forty for a kilo"
Meanwhile he is weighing each of the vegetables as directed by the well dressed man.
"Ginger? "The lady is still at it.
"How much do I pay" the man asks pulling out his wallet.
" Half a kg tomatoes say seventeen, three fourth kg gourd thirty, two hundred grams beans fourteen, one fifty grams ginger is ,...."
"How much is the ginger?" the fifth customer persists while the seller is concentrating on his calculations.
"...twenty rupees for the potatoes...."
He is already rounding up the total sum while mentally I am still struggling with the price of the gourd and the beans despite the degrees earned inking sheets and sheets of paper over the years. The ginger woman unimpressed with the oral calculations and simultaneous batting off queries from others, moves on to another seller in a huff feeling slighted by the unquoted price of the root condiment.