The dilemmas we face

The most profoundest of dilemmas that we face in life are the simplest. Yet, if you carefully pick them apart, you would find how 'weighty' such 'simple' dilemmas are. Like last evening at the Patna airport I was unlucky enough to be in the midst of a face-off between the airport (if you can call it that) authorities and the CISF security personnel. The airport personnel waved me in to the security check, but the CISF guys needed a break and so wanted me to go back. As I stood there mulling about this stand-off, I had good mind of giving both the parties a piece of my mind. I wanted to tell them how I didn't care what either party wanted, and that all I was looking to was to plonk my behind on to a chair so I could take some rest. It didn't matter if it was the waiting lounge (if you can call it that) or the check-in lounge. I also wanted to remind them that weren't doing me, the customer a favour, and that their blessed paychecks they get to do what they do, came out of my taxes.

But I remained mum. Because I knew any sort of protest may have these government officials go beyond the call of duty to make my flying experience miserable. Like for example, they could rummage through my bag till kingdom come, during the security check, looking for non-existent aviation wrecking material. I'd already had the experience of these guys confiscating most of my toiletries when I flew in to Patna. So, like I said, I stayed shut. Thankfully, I had a decent flight.

Brings me to the profound dilemma I was talking about. The one, King Solomon talked about. 'There is a time for everything; a season for every activity under heaven'. Lori Hoeck says it best about the 'time' dilemma, and so you can read her take on it here. The particular one I faced, is described in Ecclesiastes; 'a time to keep silence, and a time to speak'.

I picked the former. I was right in doing so. Yet such acts aren't easy. Especially if they take a toll on your esteem. Mine didn't take a hit, because I'd like to believe I am okay without any 'recognition'. I mean, my esteem's okay most of the times when I have to smoke the peace-pipe, even when I think I don't have to.

Business, as in life, too throws up such scenarios. The difference is, if the roles are reversed, I mean, if someone else is at the receiving end, I feel the ones with the power to intervene, must do so to prevent esteem-kills. Let me illustrate. I remember this time, working at the Taj managing a Midnight-snack session at my restaurant. Two louts walk in a little after midnight, drunk, swearing at everyone in sight. I wonder why they aren't in the first place stopped at the gate. In the restaurant they proceed to insult every steward in sight, ordering them to get food and more drink. The stewards come to me, telling me it wouldn't easy for them to serve such drunk guests. I agree. I tell them not to extend any service. After a bout of intense swearing and threatening, they leave, going to the lobby and reporting me to the manager on duty. The MoD then comes to the restaurant and asks me extend service to the louts in question. My reply remains the same. No service. To cut a long story short, I get reported, faced the management next day, who cajole me to think about my decision. To keep the ignoramuses happy, I say, I will, though in my mind I am convinced I was right.

At times, I witness guests being extremely rude. And I mean 'extremely'. Their rudeness, tolerated by a business house takes a toll on the service personnel's esteem. I believe at such times the right thing to do is to kick such louts out. It only affirms to the service staff that firm cares about them. That bolsters their motivation to serve other customers better. Bowing to 'customer pressure' and taking what's being dished out isn't easy. It may be easy for people up the hierarchy. Not so for people lower. Because its the ones lower down that face the music. The higher-ups can, of course, post-incident sermonise.

In closing let me restate the dilemma I was talking about. 'A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.' At the security gate, it was a time to keep silence. At the restaurant, it was a time to speak and kick the louts out.

Wisdom is knowing what, when, and not mixing the two up.


1) So it basically means that if we have power, we should use it in a restrained and assertive manner.

2)If we are not getting proper service, its better to keep mum and change the brand, rather than voice our protest.

This is what I have inferred. Is it what you have intended?

I know that I am interfering, but let me take an attempt to answer you -

1. What Prof. Ray meant was 'With great power, comes greater responsibility'. It's more about working in a responsible way; and I don't think restrained and assertive are the perfect words to use here.

2. If voicing your protest gets that brand to make the changes as desired by you, we should do it. but before that, we must understand the macro factors coming into play when we decide to voice our protest. The basic funda of talking has always been to know 'What to talk, How to talk & Where to talk'. I hope you interpret the message correctly :) :)

BTW. Ray Sir, I would vouch to say that this post is one of your best. I have started to feel the frustration to, of course at times, when I see my taxes not getting utilized properly. But, then, India can never be an utopian state; and I can bet my dad's last dollar on it. Wink Wink.

Ray Titus said…
Thank you, D.

Sure, its utopian to believe we will have a perfect country, but its nevertheless possible for the powers that be to let me keep more of my taxes. Rather than fork it out for them to misuse (read, use for themselves).
@Deeptaman, Thanks for your generous rephrasing of the article and helping me to understand the blog better.

With your regular help, I can decipher and interpret the blog on a consistent basis.
Ray Titus said…

1) Yes...Restrained & Assertive, which, when and where is the key.

2) Remain mum or protest, goes back to what I said in 1).
Unknown said…
every now and fact, only when the situation starts looking like a Rebellion or a Revolution or more simply put, a Strike by the worker's union, do employers realise that consumers fall in 2 categories, both equally important to satisfy - External AND Internal.

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