I have a dial up connection at home. I decided to apply for Broad Band connection. The online application was not working properly. I went to the telephone exchange office. Three men, all employees of the service provider were sitting at the entrance. I enquired about ‘Internet Connection Section’. One man asked, “Are you from X Society (meaning residential complex)?” I answered affirmatively. He said, “Don’t apply for Broad Band Connection”.
I was surprised that he located me right and surprised at his advice. I am bit adamant when someone tries to convince me without any logic. So I asked, “Isn’t my society connected yet?” All three of them smiled. The other man said, “Oh! It is connected, but not well connected”.
They must have sensed the confusion on my face. Now the third offered help. He added, “There is a major fault in the wires. So, you may get the satisfaction of having broad band connection, but you won’t get appropriate service. You will come to this office with complaints.” The fourth man, who was not employee but consumer, participated in the conversation now. He told me, “Broad band connection does not work. I am tired of complaining. And to disconnect is not easy. Take their advice and help yourself”.
I was puzzled. Then the first man said, “It is for your benefit we are saying this. But if you want to apply, you can very well apply. But think about what we are saying. We don’t gain anything in this.”
True. None of them knew me and still they were trying to do me a favor.
Other consumers listening to this conversation nodded. They all were sympathetic to the telephone people and were thinking that I was a mad person, not following their advice.
My travel plan was to catch a connected train from Mumbai to Pune. But the train coming from north India was late by five hours. So I decided to stay with a friend in Mumbai. My through train ticket was up to Kalyan station, and I wanted to go to Mulund –another suburb of Mumbai.
I contacted the Train Conductor (TC) to find out whether he could give me extension ticket from Kalyan to Mulund. The TC was surprised at my request. He said, “Don’t bother, it is too expensive.” (Because I was in II AC). “Yah! I know. Can you or any other TC give me second class extension?” I asked politely.
He was more amused. “Sister, that still is costly.”
Now I was wondering. I was ready to pay, and this guy was discouraging me.
I explained to him that my ticket was only up to Kalyan and I wanted to go to Mulund. This particular train stops on platform number 7 at Kalyan and for purchasing a local ticket I will have to go beyond platform 1. In the crowded station, with baggage. to walk this distance (and come back to platform 3 to catch a local train!) was too much. I would also need to spend half an hour in the queue to purchase the ticket. For me, time is costlier than money – money one can earn, time once lost is lost. So I was trying to compensate my time and energy with money.
The TC perfectly understood the situation but still rejected to provide me extension ticket. Now I was amazed. A asked in a bit humorous tone and with bit irritation, “then what I am supposed to do?”
“Just get down at Kalyan and catch the upcoming local train which will take you up to Mulund”, he said mildly. Then he added, “It is 11.00 in the night, nobody will check your ticket. If someone asks, explain and s/he will allow you to go. After all we too are human beings, we understand.”
I am a very transparent person, so he must have read the feelings on my face.
“It is for your benefit I am saying this. Think about what I am saying. I don’t gain anything in this.”
True. He did not know me and still he was trying to do me a favor.
Other passengers and railway people nodded. They all were sympathetic to that TC and were thinking that I was a mad person, not following the escape route.
(My colleague’s cousin purchased local ticket for me, handed it over to me at Kalyan and I reached Mulund with a proper ticket….)
Why is that even when we know that the system is dysfunctional, instead of changing it, we try to find out escape routes for individuals? Does it mean system changes only bit by bit? Does it mean we do not have power enough to change the whole system? Does it mean we can help if someone is vulnerable, but do not like if someone challenges us?
Why I always have more questions than answers?