I was standing at the check-out stand in this super market. There were 4 or 5 people before me. Just before me there was a foreigner gentleman with his 2 or 3 year old son. The boy was little restless, as expected from a boy of this age.
To reduce the use of plastics, all the supermarkets have come up with a policy to sell plastic bags to their customers instead of giving them free. And they always ask with a great deal of interest, “Do you need bags?”
There was a cashier girl who was scanning the merchandise and there was a boy of about 19 or 20, who was putting the merchandise into the plastic bags, only for those who purchased those bags from the supermarket and was transferring the merchandise filled bags into the carts.
There were some customers who carried their own bags and this boy was not doing anything for them, they were putting their own merchandise into their own bags and then transferring the bags into the carts.
The foreigner, who was just before me, brought his own bag. I have seen many foreigners in Pune follow this practice. I also observed that his cart was small in comparison to the amount of merchandise he kept in his cart.
I found that the helper boy started filling in his merchandise into his bags for him. I thought probably because he is a foreigner he is showing some extra courtesy. “Nice though” I thought.
This kind of helpers in supermarkets gets a salary something like 5,000 to 6,000 for 8 hours of work. They are also responsible for arranging merchandises into the store shelves. I have never seen them working as cashiers, probably that require additional training and/or higher qualification. Because of such poor salary many of them take two jobs in two different stores. These boys are called “helpers”.
After putting the merchandise into the bags the helper realized that the cart this gentleman was carrying is too small. He saw a bigger cart at a little distance. He ran and came back with the bigger cart immediately. In the meantime, the little boy, who was always restless, almost came in front of the cart. The helper immediately stopped his cart. It was a narrow escape by six inches max. Otherwise the child could have got hurt.
His father got furious. Without a moment’s pause he shouted at this helper, used a language which should not be used in any case. After all his intention was good and the child was not hurt and there is no foreseeable reason to believe that this is going to happen any time soon or ever.
Everybody, who was standing in the queue felt bad. By this time this gentleman realized that he did a mistake. So he grabbed his son by his hand and gave him a jerk. Probably that is the way he wanted to say sorry to this helper for being rude to him.
This child cried for a second and then stopped. Generally these kids never develop the habit of crying for long because nobody pays attention when they cry.
This helper transferred all his bags into the large cart, which he brought and kept the smaller empty cart aside. The foreigner left with his son and merchandise filled cart. He started walking towards the parking lot.
I could not resist myself to watch the face of this helper. I looked very carefully to make sure that he does not realize that I am watching him. I was sure that I would see a sorry face for getting rebuked in spite of all his good intentions.
But I could not believe what I saw, so I looked again.
He is all smile and very happy.
Probably when he will go back to his friends that evening he will able to say with pride that some foreigner spoke to him.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal.