A Nuisance Customer

Long back, in a business unit of ABC Bank at Srinagar, there was a simple, calm & reserved branch head, named, Mr. Patloo. He would hardly react to the people, even when,  personally attacked, and provoked by someone by use of most unwelcome behaviour & bad language. One day, when he was sitting down in his office chair, going through some office files, a customer of the branch entered his room, like a sudden nasty gust of unwanted wind, with a dirty mop of long tongue between his two jaws like flicking tongue of a snake. He opened & emptied a powerful battery of insults, abuses & nicknames on him without letting him speak out even a word. Mr. Patloo silently gauging abysmal depth of lowliness of sleazebag, stood like an impregnable & unshakable rock, receiving bullets of verbal assault from the crazy fellow, without allowing himself unmoved a bit even by such a grave & sudden provocation, as it is called in penal law of crimes. Till the ugly storm of unwarranted customer had calmed down after exhausting its forceful verbal attack on him, it didn’t allow the gentleman manager to speak a word even & silenced him speechless by unleashing volley of quarreling unpleasantries. And, then, the dirty gust of wind returned through the same door from which it had entered Mr. Patloo’s office room. In the meanwhile, the staff members, who knew the misbehaving customer of the branch, had stood up from their seats but, just to watch the scene with helpless eyes of bovine animals & shut mouths of mute servants as they were all under an obligation of showing compliance to the customer service manual of the banking industry that stipulates: “customer is always right”. Angered, however, they were inside their hearts, so they asked Mr. Patloo why he hadn’t shown any reaction to the customer’s pathetic behaviour. He smilingly responded:

“He’s a known Leke Watul . Why should have I reacted or reciprocated him in his language to bring myself on par with him, to end visible difference with him? By his rough behaviour & dirty language, he has shown that there is an ever-ready filthy-fleshy mop stationed in big mouths of such odious customers of banking industry ….”

Mr. Patloo while thanking staff members for showing “concern” requested them to go back to their seats. While they were returning to their chairs, whispers were heard: “Customer is not always right, we have learnt it today from the Leke Watul, a real “nuisance customer” of the bank”.

One day, Mr. Patloo while narrating the above story of “illiterate” Lake Watul to his daughter, who had also found managerial job in the ABC Bank, advised her: “Some day in your life, you may have to encounter, unwillingly though, a Lake Watul in your office, or anywhere else, who is going to make you lose your self-respect. But do you know the secret of keeping up your self-respect?”

“What’s that, dad?”, she asked.

“It is simple, stay back, take a deep breath & allow the aggressive winds of insults & abuses from such a loudmouth, unpleasant man, to pass by. Remember it, my dear”.

“Yes, dad, I shall always remember & practice it in my life”, she answered.

It was in a sense prudent patrimony passed on by an experienced & disciplined father to his daughter who, after a decade of her father’s retirement, had, by then, also become a branch head of the ABC Bank. She had inherited the calm & composed temperament from her father. The anecdote of the above-mentioned “illiterate” Lake Watul was strongly inscribed on her memory. However, she always recalled to her mind, much  more golden words of her father that “Lake Watul isn’t going to be found among illiterate people only. Their numbers have grown more among “literate” herds of people, hence, for your own-respect, you have to guard yourself more against corrosive acids flowing down from the mouths of such literate brutes who are toxic people of our society …….”.

Then, one day, Mr. Patloo’s words about literate brutes found an expression, an actual drama, one may say so, in the behaviour of a “retired Judge” who held a pension account in the daughter’s business unit. Owing to a pure human & technical error in the computer system of the branch the pensioner had been receiving “excess” pension amount that had accumulated to some lakhs, over some years, which under banking norms was recovered from his deposits that lay with the branch. The recovery was made by the branch but it had visibly put the judge on fire ; he threw choicest of abuses & insults at the girl & other lady staff members in her business unit.

“How dare you deduct money from my accounts? How dare you…..without my consent? Don’t you know who am I?….”, the pensioner roared like a dummy tiger.

“Sir, the pension guidelines permit recovery of the excess amount, and it does not need prior consent….”, dared a lady banker to utter a word of truth.

“Don’t try to teach me law? You petty foolish bankers….You feed on our deposits ……Tell your MD to talk to me……”, the ex-judge was bringing only disgrace to his profession by throwing insults & nasty put-downs at the dutiful bankers who had discharged their official obligations only. The daughter, like her father, stood like a solid rock against the judge’s spewing out filthy words from his big mouth. While he was in a fit of arrogance showering rebukes on the bankers, she was hinting at the staff to keep their fingers on their lips and not to reciprocate the “valued” customer, as response to misbehaviour of a customer is taken in banking terminology as “wrong” on the part of the bankers. The dirty gust of wind left the branch after he had unloaded all filth from his mind on the poor bankers. The staff asked her why she had stopped them from responding to the foul-mouthed customer.  Then, she told them the anecdote of her father how he had once faced & handled a like Lake Watul. She told them: “this customer oo is a Lake Watul…..”.

She brought to the notice of her teammates at the branch how David J Pollay, an American positive psychologist and guide, learnt a lifelong lesson from a cabbie who remained silent, smiled & waved at a driver who had wrongly jumped his car in front of their driving-cab and had almost caused their certain death. The driver yelled at the cabbie but with no reaction from him. That episode was developed by David into The Law of the Garbage Truck which appropriately explains how to respond to the people who want to dump their garbage on you. Let garbage trucks pass by without letting them dump it on you. In his own words: “Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, & move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.”

A staffer asked, “Mam, are Lake Watuls in our society like garbage trucks ever-looking for dumping their shit wherever & whenever they find a place, occasion, for it”.

“Yep, undoubtedly, don’t allow them to dump it on you”, she replied before they resumed their work.