In Someone Else’s Shoes

I got down from the bus midway on my way back home from work. Crossing the busy street by dodging the bustling vehicles, I walked to a chaatwala whom I used to frequent and had not been there from past few months. I placed my order for one plate of Dahi Puri. He looked up and asked “Two plates?” I reaffirmed that my order is only one plate of Dahi Puri. The look he gave me raised my mind’s eyebrows but I kept an expressionless face. I always went there with my mother and we always first ordered one plate of Dahi Puri and then one plate of Masala Puri for each of us, with more green chilly chutney and less sweet chutney. His look meant that my good mother must have passed away, and that’s why both of us had not turned up at his stall for months together and that’s why I had come alone now. Little he knew that my mother watched reality shows back home and PMSed big time. Random people around me placing their chaat orders thought I had nobody in this world and had sobbed a lot before coming out of my home to eat alone. I was actually slightly disturbed by what happened at work. So, instead of going home straight, I went to have chaats to help my brain release endorphins. You see, I am one of those people who find calmness in busy public places like when I am alone staring at the dark curtains in my room. This state I dwell in can be perfectly represented as a mutually inclusive event by using a Venn diagram.

Many of my friends exclaimed “Winter is Coming” when the lamest of the winters started in Bangalore. Winter, along with workload, increases my appetite and I end up having five meals a day instead of the usual three. The same happened this time too. A colleague of mine was transferred from Marketing department to Dispatch department a few months back. He helps me to not gain weight. Here’s how. When I leave from work and walk to the bus stop, I get a bakery on the way. When I am hungry, I just want to eat a lot of carbohydrates and this bakery beckons me to buy potato chips. From the time this colleague got transferred to the plant from the corporate office, he offers to drop me midway home. He takes a deviation avoiding the bakery, and that’s how I am eating less junk food. He is a good man at heart; has a teacher for a wife and a son in 7th grade who also takes Tabla lessons as well as Vedas lessons. He is so good he doesn’t even know how to scold a person and express anger while quarrelling with someone. If you see him scolding anyone, you will end up laughing. But it isn’t enough if you are a good person in this world, is it? This person is not very intelligent in worldly ways and is not a quick learner; needs easy work, but is not lazy. He cannot take much “load.” So, since this person came here, reworks and delays in dispatch of orders have become common. Our plant manager used to be mighty pissed at him, but later changed her approach and tried to explain the situation to him. I once heard her telling him “Everybody at the corporate office thinks you cannot do anything right. Managing Director just dismisses anything by hearing your name. Don’t you think you should put efforts to prove them wrong? Everybody has a way of doing things, so you choose a better one and work on it. I will certainly help you, but helping you should not burden me by keeping me from fulfilling my own duties as a plant manager. I should not literally do your job and keep mine pending.”

One of the product categories of our company is micronutrient premixes. They cost a lot for a kilogram. If I steal a few kilograms of any of these products and sell them in the black market, then I can buy a lavish penthouse and live my happily-ever-after. We got an order for one such product on a priority basis and all the workers slogged overtime to complete this order. But this good person did not check his emails properly and missed the invoice for this consignment. Thinking the invoice has not yet come from the Accounts department, he did not call in the logistics to take the consignment. When the news reached the corporate office that this priority consignment was not dispatched even after working overtime, hell broke loose and plant manager took him to task. My other colleagues were ready to escalate other issues along with this one and get rid of him. After a heated exchange of words and considerably calming down, she came to me and said “We can’t keep warning him every time he pulls a blooper and help him… If we let him go, his family will suffer. They are not financially stable. That is the reason he was sent from Marketing to Dispatch, only because the company did not want to fire him.” She got lost in her own thoughts and went back into her cabin. But her words aroused my argumentative trait of a blank mind. Should we help an employee at the cost of company’s reputation? Or should we let him or her be even though we know he or she is not well to do? The morals and ethics clashed like the titans and the reverberation cut off when he asked me if I would leave along with him or later. We had again worked for two extra hours and he had to go 30km to reach home. I numbly picked up my bag and left with him. All the way, he grumbled and mumbled about the day’s happenings and I lent a listening ear, with occasional words to fill in the awkward silence resulting from his pauses. My appetite plunged. I am not exactly found with appropriate moods or behaviour as per the circumstances, but I felt bad for him. Dahi Puri and Masala Puri didn’t work their magic this time around. That’s why I ended up writing this blog today. Winter shall end soon.

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