Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Last Working Day

It was the last working day of the year.

The electricity failed early in the morning, leaving me with no option, but, to start my day with a cold shower. As I stood shivering, under the icy, needle-sharp spray, I KNEW, it was going to be one of those days.
Things, could, only go downhill from here.

And, I was right.

My blackberry, which had been choking out emails at sporadic intervals, all through the night, showed no signs of revival. It also had a host of smses, from friends and fellow workers, each, demanding to know where I had vanished to.
Airtel, it appeared, was taking the day off.

All a part of life in India, I told myself, trying to put a brave face on things.

Not that I was very perturbed.

With the Blackberry out of action, I could, now, spend a few extra moments, preening in front of the mirror.

But, as I carefully dotted the sunscreen, into warrior lines and patterns, all over my face, disaster struck. It suddenly hit me, that, I had not completed my tax investments for the year. And, we were on the last working day of the year, too.
A cause for great concern, and, one which, left me with no choice, than, to make a quick stop at the bank, on my way to work.
After all, how long would a piddly little deposit take? I asked myself, a wee bit too optimistically.
15 minutes?
30 minutes?
Not more, right?

Well, my friends, it took a good 4 hours!!!

In all fairness, I guess, it would have taken as much time as I had estimated, if the power had not gone off, just as my number was about to be announced.

But, what I had not bargained on, was the UPS not swinging into action, right away.
Not my fault, I assure you.
After all, I was in a well known nationalised bank, whose advertisements in magazines and publications, often screamed out its technological proficiency!

But, minutes ticked by. Rivulets of sweat ran down my neck. And, nothing happened.
After, what seemed like an eternity, the UPS beeped faintly.
The lights flickered on.
And, the display board lit up.

Much to my horror, the board had reset itself, back to zero.
I desperately looked around for help.
For, someone to intervene, and, correct the dastardly display board.
But, no-one, as much as batted an eye-lid.

And, there was no recourse for me, but, to await my turn again.

I tapped my feet, as I waited. Frowned disapprovingly, at anyone who remotely looked like an official.
And, eventually, counted the numbers, flashing on the board, till I reached the one preceding mine.

As I readied my papers, and, counted my monies for the umpteenth time, Murphy struck again!
The UPS died out.

A collective sigh of dismay echoed around the room.
And, was followed, almost immediately, by a buzz of angry murmurs.
Some, angrily, made a beeline to the counters, to protest.
Others, scowled, and continued cribbing, to who ever would listen.

As I watched the hapless officials running around, pretty much, like a brood of Chicken Littles, I knew, I was in for a long wait.

After all, I had started my day, with a cold shower!!!

It took the bank, a good two hours, to arrive at a solution.
A Generator!!!
And, an announcement, directing the non-home customers to a branch nearby, to facilitate quicker services.

Yet another wave, of angry voices, swept across the room.

But, no one moved.
The prospect of light at the end of the tunnel, stayed our tongues.
And, our feet.

" We have waited for so long, so why not for some more time" muttered an old gentleman, by my side. "They must be insane, to think I am going out in the sun, without my work being done here."

In time, the power was back.
But, Murphy was not done for the morning.
This time, he reset the token machine, issuing a second round of tokens starting with 1, to the new customers walking into the bank.

In a matter of minutes, the seething floor had transformed into a battle ground!

On the one side, raged the furious, old customers, defiantly waving tokens numbering above 20, as a mark of their refusal to wait any longer. And, on the other side, were the new customers, brandishing their tokens, demanding to be served at once.

In the melee, an irate customer button-holed a customer relations manager.
" This is most unacceptable. How can you make your customers wait for 4 hours, just for simple banking services? Where are your systems? And, your back-ups? None of you even care. As soon as the power went off, all of you vanished into the back-office. No one was available to talk to the customers or try to solve the problem. How difficult is it to order a generator? Or, to ensure that people who have been waiting for so long, are served first? Knowing that there will be a rush today, don't you think you should have been better prepared for such situations?"

Much to my amazement, she bestowed a withering glance at the customer, before retorting
" It's all your fault. Why do you keep things for the last minute? Why do you not plan for emergencies? Right from the beginning of the year, you knew, 31st March is the last date for your deposit. You had all this time, and, did not bother to come. And now, you are getting angry because you did not think???'

Err, did anyone say India Shining?


Ganga Dhanesh said...

Wow....what a response! but then, the officer had a point too :)

Rekz said...

well perhaps, but, then, just think, how boring life would be, if everything was so orderly and we didn't have to scramble and run to catch up with deadlines and last days!!!
:) :)
Ok, ok...I am making excuses for being a last day person, myself, but then, I still don't think that was an excuse for the Bank's tardiness..