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Why It's Pointless To Be Polite In Bangalore

Join the parade, please Lance Naik Kishen Chand, you know, there's pizzas and cokes in the mess hall after the march past. Oh, you don't feel like it today? No problem, you can sit out this one. By the way, feel free to discuss your working conditions with the Army Employee Relations Department. We value your suggestions on how we may improve our management skills and increase jawan morale.

Recently, someone argued with me about employee attrition rates in call centres.

She said that call centres were an example of how much employers must do to keep their employees happy, especially if they were in jobs of drudgery.

"There's a reason they have ping pong tables and burgers and video games and stuff," she pointed out.

"Clearly, all that song and dance did not improve the attrition rate," I countered.

I spoke with a colleague who once managed a call centre. She agreed with me. She said that attrition was high for no other reason than the job demanded sustained concentration—something alien to Bangaloreans, even for short bursts, she said.

"If they had been allowed to get up from their chairs and take extended breaks as and when they jolly well pleased, they would not have left their jobs," she explained.

I asked an ex-CEO of an Indiranagar-based call centre, “What about management? Could you not have been stricter?”

"Sure, why not... I have lost count of how many times I have wanted to administer a sound thrashing to them," he replied, "forget about employee attrition. Talk about CEO attrition. I quit because of those rude, impolite b*&^#@*s! who have never been taught manners and respect for their fellow workers. Bad upbringing!"

"So reasoning with them, co-opting them and being nice to them..."

"I think you’re talking about some other country," he snorted derisively.

Albert Einstein once said, "Good manners and soft words have brought many a difficult thing to pass."

Albert Einstein ought not to be quoted on anything other than physics. Cocooned in the safety of a secure nuclear lab, I am sure he understood bupkis about human behaviour.

Soft words... LOL. It's all very well to use soft words when you're inventing the nuclear bomb on the side.

I wonder if the Army believes that soft words and entreaty are the best methods to get obedience and discipline from the men.

Join the parade, please Lance Naik Kishen Chand, you know, there's pizzas and cokes in the mess hall after the march past. Oh, you don't feel like it today? No problem, you can sit out this one. By the way, feel free to discuss your working conditions with the Army Employee Relations Department. We value your suggestions on how we may improve our management skills and increase jawan morale.

There’s got to be a reason why motivation is achieved through totalitarian means, as in the armed forces. And although humourist Edward Lucas once said, "There can be no defence like elaborate courtesy", I don’t think we can bow and curtsey our way out of armed conflict.

After years of childlike grappling with political correctness - that we consider important in our formative years—people finally reach the conclusion that there is great psychologically therapeutic value in a sharp smack to the back of the head.

For example, "Lane driving is sane driving" is the completely useless public service message from Bangalore Police. "We will fine you Rs 2,500 and then kick your ass from here to Konnanakunte" would get more cooperation from inattentive and rude motorists who believe that following road rules is optional.

Recently, I saw a gentleman about to enter Koshy's just as I was leaving it.

He was speaking very loudly on his cell phone, but seemed somewhat distracted. Looking absently into the middle distance as he spoke, he was not registering anything in particular around him.

Because we had reached the door at the same time, I held the door open for him and politely waited for him to enter.

But he stood right in the middle of the doorway and continued to talk to his pal.

He showed no signs of being aware that I was waiting for him. And I stood there stupidly, holding the door open, as though I were a doorman serving in bonded labour.

After years of having been spurned at the gate of good manners, I have reached the happy situation where I first make one attempt at politeness; I check to see if my courtesies were directed at an intelligent human being or if I was addressing a mammal of indeterminate species. In the latter case, I switch off.

So, I let go of the door.

It sprung out of my hands and smacked him right in the gob.

It's a good thing Nokia makes phones whose parts separate on impact to absorb shock, so that they can be snapped back together without damage. I would have hated to damage a phone. Disjointing his nose was another matter.

You'd think the guy would have been upset with me. But continuing to be inattentive, he rushed about picking up the pieces of his phone, reassembled it quickly and continued to yell into it, "Hello? Hello!"

I realise that guy, like many among us, did not intend to be impolite or uncaring. I think the problem is worse: he's plain dumb. He was not aware that he was being inconsiderate. He simply was not paying attention. I don't believe he could digest more than one second of information at a time.

The situation is not different on the roads. The driver who cuts the lane in front of you does not know he is cutting you off. He is simply headed where he wants to head at that very moment.

The number of accidents on the road, fatal and crippling, proves my point that we are as aware of consequences as stampeding cattle.

It would seem that the only thing that makes us pay attention is the impending doom of punishment.

Somehow, the chronic ADD of Bangaloreans is instantly cured in the presence of a glaring policeman.

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Ramjee Chandran is Editor-in-Chief and MD of Explocity.
rc@explocity.com (E-mail)
@ramjeechandran on Twitter

 

Header pic by lecercle is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0