228 Monday Musings - Kindness in Khakhi
The only thing worse than a 15 hour day at office is a flat tyre welcome by your car at the end of those 15 hours. Flat tyres need not mean only a deflated day - it can very well mean an inflated and unexpected experience.
The other day as i finish an excruciating long day at office, which might be quite different from a fruitful day at work - and difference is often not noticed, I was welcome by my beast with a flat Tyre. Thank God during the appraisal season it did not ask for a raise, all that it asked for was to be raised and be given some fresh air. I drove the Safari much against its wishes for a small distance in search of a mechanic despite one of her limbs seriously incapacitated and was mortified by the imagination of what it would have said to me had she been an employee! (I am digressing)
I search for a mechanic at that hour of the night but find all shops shut and am pleased by the fact they have working hours that end. (I am digressing again) .
After a futile search I decide to do something meaningful for the day (I was about to digress but have decided I won't) and take out the Jack and the spanner to put to use all the DIY lessons on changing a flat tyre. Just then a policeman on the beat duty for the night in that area stops by. Something in me would have told him that there is more than just a flat tyre that I am shouldering a load off ( see I had the potential for digression but I didn't succumb).
He offers to help me to change the tyre!
I am sure you can identify with me when i say that we are used to many things - riots, earthquakes, floods, bad roads, bad ratings, poor raise and we also know how to deal with it. But how in Gods name do I deal with a policeman who is offering me to help me change a tyre!. I am tongue tied and all the communication skills training program lessons did not come to my rescue. I mumble something like "thank you" but I don't think he heard me because he stayed right there. Meanwhile a paan shop owner who was equally coming to terms with what he was seeing right in front of him saved the day (or night) for both of us when he said that we should check out with a bicycle shop nearby for some SOS.
So we walk to the bicycle repair shop and make an audacious and stupid suggestion if he could fix the flat tyre of a Safari. If I would have been alone I am sure i would received an ear full but with my benefactor in Khakhi around all he said to wait for another 20 minutes. No prizes foe guessing he was not happy to meet me and i also did not try a warm " pleased to meet you either.
My rescuer in the uniform then invites me to his vehicle stationed a few meters away and offers "cold water" - something clearly he felt was the best hospitality he could offer me in the sultry conditions. He then pulls out a chilled bottle of water amidst the crackling sound of police control room conversations trickling out of instruments at the back of his car and asks me to drink to my hearts content. He then regales me with the stories of his profession which by the way are quite heart wrenching. He talks about the horrible working conditions, cruel working hours, poor pay, force shortages, and high stress. He also laments that the fact that all crime becoming white collared and committed on phone and computer has had such an devastating effect on the spoils in his profession. "Things are not the same anymore" - i think i have heard that before! He remembers the good old days of road side betting, bootlegging and other assorted pursuits that offered a more ready opportunity to earn a honest days living. The clincher was however this - "You got to be seriously senior in the police to make money". I almost felt like hugging him.
When the mechanic finally changed the tyre and my friend bid me goodbye, i actually hugged him because there was something seriously honest, humble and nice about him. He stopped by to ask another human being in distress and ask "Can I help you?". I don't think I do that often.