Burger, Frustration, And Milkshake

, , | | Right | May 21, 2019

(I am the customer in this story. I am hosting a small party for my birthday at a very popular fast food joint. We are almost fifteen people, and our order is really complicated since everyone wants a different kind of meal with different drinks. As such, the cashier has a tough time with my order but she is extremely patient and makes sure to take the order correctly. I pay for my order and take the numerous trays to the table, helped by friends. By this point, I am very flustered, too, since my friends are complaining about not getting the right drinks, etc. By the time I have made sure everyone has the right food, I realise I forgot to buy food for myself. Extremely annoyed, I go back to the counter.)

Cashier: “Namaste! How may I help you, ma’am?”

Me: “I forgot to buy food for myself in all that confusion. I’ll have a [burger meal].”

Cashier: “Sure! Your total is [amount].”

(I pay, take my tray, and start walking towards the table when I realise I forgot to get ketchup. I am so frustrated now that I storm to the condiment bar and put my tray there. I obviously am not paying much attention, because the entire tray falls down along with the food. There are fries and drink everywhere on the floor. I have had enough. I go and sit at my table with a huff.)

Friend #1: “Where’s your food, [My Name]?”

Me: “I dropped it, and now I’m not going to the counter again.”

Friend #2: “Look, [My Name], the cashier is calling for you.”

(Sure enough, I turn back and see that the cashier is gesturing to me to come to the counter. I go over, and she hands me a tray with a burger, fries, and a drink.)

Me: “But I dropped my—“

Cashier: “Take this; it’s on the house.”

(I thanked her and went back to the table. Thank you, kind lady. You made my day! Or rather, my birthday!)

This Train Will Be Terminating At Your Hearts

, , , , | Hopeless | April 24, 2019

Mumbai, India has two major arteries for its public commutes: its railway lines. They’re overcrowded, overloaded, and held together by sheer force of will and prayer, but they still carry the city on their shoulders. An average intra-city train with a capacity of 1,900 passengers will, on a normal run, carry over 5,300 at a time. Trains are identified by the time they are scheduled to arrive at the station, and even if they’re running a few minutes late, they’ll run the exact same route every single day. Platforms at each station can range from 300 metres length at the shortest, to over half a kilometre long elsewhere. They’re connected using a warren of tunnels and overhead bridges, so it wouldn’t be out of order for commuters to walk over a kilometer or two to reach the exit gates.

I commute using one of these lines. This time, while I was waiting on the platform, an old, blind man, hard of hearing and holding a crutch, was asking if the 12:15 to [Terminus] had arrived. The train prior to that, the 12:04, hadn’t arrived yet, and the passengers around him were saying so. He probably wasn’t getting the answers he wanted, so he kept asking. I gently told him it was the 12:04 next, and I’d put him on the train.

He then asked if he could be helped to board the 12:15, since the 12:04 would mean a walk of over two kilometres from the platform it ended at to the main gates at [Terminus]. The 12:15 landed on the platform closest to the gates. I had time on my hands, so I agreed. The poor guy was so overwhelmed that he held on to me for the ten minutes or so it took for the train to arrive. “My keeper is with me; I have no worries,” he kept chanting. I gave my bags to him to hold, as an assurance that I wasn’t going anywhere until he was on the train.

The 12:15 arrived and I helped him to the doors of the train. People on the train immediately held on to him, pulled him up, and held on behind him so that he wouldn’t fall. A few people immediately emptied their seats for him and he sat down on a corner, trying to occupy the least amount of space. I moved on, finding luggage space for my bags and then a seat for myself, so I lost track of what happened to him after.

When I was alighting at my stop, two halts before [Terminus], I caught sight of him once again. He was asking around if someone would help him alight at [Terminus]. A group of teenagers, heading home from school, told him they would do that. He was still worried and kept repeating his request to the compartment. So, they just created space in the middle of their own seats and got him to sit there safely, telling him, “Uncle, we’re all alighting at [Terminus] only. We’ll make sure you, too, reach it comfortably.”

I alighted at my destination with a smile, realising one thing: Mumbai’s regular commuters never lack empathy. They will give answers to everything you ask, even delaying their own journey if someone is in need. They’ll look out for everyone with more difficulties than them. No matter how uncomfortable the journey, if you’re less able than the rest, we’ll make sure it’s comfortable for you at least.

Making His Feelings Very Public

, , , | Right | March 7, 2019

(I am a deputy branch manager of a reputed public sector bank. One day, our servers are down and we are unable to do any transactions. However, it is against our bank’s policy to close doors during business hours. We are politely informing customers that their transactions cannot be carried out. One self-important customer storms into my branch manager’s office.)

Customer: *demanding tone* “Print me my transactions statement!”

Manager: “That will not be possible until servers are restored.”

(The customer loses his temper and goes on a tirade that, being public sector employees, we bankers are getting salary from taxes paid by him and still we are refusing service to him. My boss is a very gentle person, but he’s offended by the customer’s words. Just then cops arrive in our branch for a routine visit.)

Boss: *calmly says to the customer* “Your taxes pay salary for them—“ *cops* “—too. Can you talk in a similar fashion to them, as they are public servants also?”

(The customer looked sheepish, and from that day he has never been rude to us.)

They Also Know Where They Can “Stick” That Passenger

, , , | Right | January 23, 2019

I just took a flight. Since the duration of the flight was only one hour, they did not serve any hot meals to the passengers. This was announced before the flight attendants brought out the food cart.

A middle-aged gentleman was sitting right in front of me, and he ordered a sandwich. A flight attendant handed him his sandwich and continued her service.

Once the man finished his sandwich, he summoned a flight attendant. Once he came to the man, he started getting angry at the flight attendant, because “his food was cold.” The flight attendant apologized and informed him that since it was a short flight, they could not serve hot meals. The man seemed to let it go.

After a few minutes, when the flight attendant was passing by, he told him, “You know what? When you serve food like this going forward, you should probably also give a stick with it, so that we can push it down our throats.”

The flight attendant smiled and handled the situation gracefully, but I don’t know what the man was expecting!

Looking Is Free But Time Is Money

, , , | Right | April 28, 2018

(It is 2009, when I have just launched my brand of handmade jewelry and started to sell them it exhibitions and street fairs. I have just moved to a new venue and am scared about doing a standalone show, so I join a group of small business-women entrepreneurs and do shows with them. It is the second day of the show and a hot morning with hardly any walk-ins. After a while, a lady walks in and shows a lot of interest in my jewelry. We talk for around 25 minutes, so I get excited and start doing a mental calculation of how much she will be spending and slowly prepare myself to close in on the sale.)

Me: “So, ma’am—” *giving her a big smile* “—you are absolutely right; these would all look stunning on you.”

Customer: *removes the necklace that she has been trying on and says* “Yes, it’s beautiful, much like the others!”

Me: “So, which are the ones that you will be taking? Can I wrap these three up?”

Customer: “No, sadly, I cannot buy them.”

Me: *shocked* “You like them and they look good on you.”

Customer: “Yes, I do like them, but I don’t have any money with me. You see, I came to buy coriander at the vegetable market next door and just brought some change. When I saw your sign I thought it would be a good way to spend some time looking around. Looking is free, right?”

(The lady smiled and left, leaving me looking stupefied. I wanted to scream, “Looking is free, but my time isn’t!”)

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