All for the principle

12:26 PM

It might be PMS and maybe just maybe this time not completely, but my level of tolerance for stupid excuses and general BS is starting to shrink even faster than before. And what sparked this blog entry is just what happened a few minutes ago.
For the past year and a half that Ishita has been attending her playschool I abided by the rule that is clearly stated in the school’s diary: Arrange for your child to be punctual and be at school 10 minutes before the start of the classes. To me this is a no brainer, because punctuality is quintessential where I come from and yes students should be on time (even rebellious teens like I was who tried to pull the late arrival card only to get detention). Until today no one blinked, she was on time, and they let her play in the reception’s play area where day care kids and kids coming early play daily. This morning the new school coordinator who got promoted a mere few months ago from the position of assistant teacher told me on a stern tone that bringing my daughter at 10.52 instead of 11 when the class does actually start is too early and I should stop doing it.
I don’t know about you, but really, isn’t that a way of promoting late arrival as the only proper thing to do? no wonder India is running on stretchable time and think rules and law can be bent, it starts with playschool staff telling you to stop bringing your kid on time, and disregard the rule book they themselves drafted.
I would have been almost accommodating if at the end of the first term of this academic year the entire staff of teacher didn’t choose to leave the school without noticing the parents and let us realise by ourselves that our kiddos were attended by rookie teachers that didn’t even feel the need to introduce themselves and had no idea whose kid belonged to who at pick up time. Where I come from teachers are on a contract for a year and stick to it, you don’t abandon kiddos mid year like that and let them cope with new teachers, especially when they are that young, and not without letting the parents know what is going on. The only one that stayed with the school is the teacher assistant I mentioned who suddenly got promoted to school principal position due to the lack of other people familiar with the school. And she has the guts to tell me after 1.5 years of me making sure my daughter follows the rule book that I am bringing her too early? I pointed that the school never had a problem with that before to her on an assertive tone (calm and polite but assertive) only to see her yield and suddenly say it was fine then. Me on the other hand…well I am glad she will be in another full fledged school next year and no longer in a playschool operated from an apartment which seems to be more and more interested in making money than caring for the kids properly (they were fine last year and that was the reason I chose to continue with them).

But that event is not the isolated case of me tolerating less crap from the people that are in the first place supposed to provide a service to me.
A few month back I was trying a new eatery at the mall, a place where they claim their Italian food is good and authentic, while I was certainly not fooling myself on the gimmick line to attract people, I decided to try it just because it was new and I like trying new things. Anyway it didn’t take me more than a minute that this place despite being an international franchise, was not at par with the standards of international service, they were all pretty clueless, and when I went at the cash counter to place my order and pay, I asked for a combo meal and when the guy asked which drink I wanted with it I asked for a diet Pepsi because well being insulin resistant to begin with, consuming a drink that contain so much sugar is idiotic and Ishita kept asking for coke too (otherwise I would have gone for water). the guy cash in, gives me my receipt and I hand it to the lady in charge of putting the order together, only to realise that what was printed on the receipt was not what I told the guy, so I had to start by telling her to not give me the cannelloni but the lasagna, and then she brings me a plastic cup filled from the soda fountain with 7 Up in it, I corrected her again saying that I asked for a diet coke, and she told me promptly that I cannot have it on the combo meal because diet Pepsi is not in the fountain and only fountain drinks can be part of the combo meal and that if I want a diet Pepsi I would have to go and buy an extra one. I pointed out that the person at the cash counter didn’t tell me so, and she says that “it is what it is” so I instead tell her to give me a glass of water her reply “No ma’am we don’t offer water on the combo meal because you have to purchase it in a bottle”. At this point I was miffed at the lack of service so took my assertive tone again pointing out that in a country often called the diabetes capital of the world it is unacceptable to only serve high on sugar soft drinks as the only option on a combo meal, and that there are some people that can’t handle that much sugar in their diet. Loud enough that other could hear, she tried to tell me that it was still how it was, but under the stares of now many people around her, relented to give me my can of diet Pepsi (which by the way was the same size in content as the 7 Up she served me against my choice first). I ate the food, which was really not good enough for me to ever want to brave the crappy service they offered ever again…if they offered good service I might have come back, but not under these circumstances…sorry.

And in the list of memorable and recent events still, I had to go buy a gift for one of Ishi’s friend who is throwing her birthday party this week, not finding anything good locally I headed to the mall, which landed me in Shopper’s Stop. I pay for the toy, go down two floors to go to the gift wrap station, the lady simply tell me to pick any of the paper on display without adding anything else, Ishita pick a purple one, we get it gift wrapped and the lady tells me “20 rupees please”….arr uph…what??? I pointed out to her that a few weeks ago I came and it was free (which is true by the way) and she goes on telling me only the 3 papers in the back are free all the others are against payment. I point out that this is the kind of things you tell BEFORE asking the customer to make a choice, not after, she doesn’t even say “Sorry my mistake” just “Ma’am you have to pay”…the hell I don’t and I tell her that I will not pay and she might as well call the manager down so I can clear things off. At this point she is starting to be nervous, very nervous, and still try again to make me pay, seeing that I will not do it, reluctantly goes to the phone to call him. A few minutes later a nice very polite guy comes to me and first apologise for his taking so much time to come down to meet me, and then ask me what the problem is since the lady didn’t. I calmly explain the thing to me with the gift wrap lady shooting me dark stares. The manager profusely apologised to me and told me that I didn’t have to pay and he would talk to the gift wrap lady about how she should tell people which papers are free and which are not beforehand. I then nicely suggested to him that maybe to avoid this whole confusion they could perhaps put a sign telling customers about the paper fees, and he agreed that it was a good suggestion (I know they might not follow through though but still). The funny bit though comes a day after the incident, DH and I had to go back to the mall to get an AC unit for our bedroom yesterday as the temps are showing clear signs of warm up in Mumbai. While we were there Ishita needed to use the bathroom, and guess who was in the door frame when I opened the door? Yup gift wrap lady, and she must have recognised me too because she shot me a stare and pushed through the door knocking me lightly in the process. I let it slide because at this point her behaviour is ridiculous, she made a mistake, caught in the act by one lady that refused to be taken advantage of and the adult and professional behaviour would have been to stand corrected and let it glide. I know her job sucks, I know the pay sucks, hey I did the same kind of uber crappy shitty jobs in my years too. I did serve food in a canteen, been a promotion lady for laundry detergent in supermarkets, a concession corner attendant at football matches, I even scrubbed dirty dishes clean in a hospital kitchen. The point is that at the end of the day, money earned is still money earned that will pay your bills, and that you do whatever you can to do so and survive because nothing in life is free, and just because you think your job sucks doesn’t mean you are entitled to be less than professional at it and rude. Especially NOT in the retail and service field…And I have been in that field all my professional life.

And last but not least on the recent BS-o-meter surge, my maid, who was as you recall perfect and professional before. Well no longer, she changed overnight after we moved to our new place, she first started by asking 100 rupees a month extra just for climbing up the hill to our new place…a mere 10 minutes walk, that is in no way challenging physically, but apparently warrant a hike in salary. DH did agree without problem, while I was left with my eyes popping out, considering she is already bagging a generous amount of money as her standard fee in our place, and doesn’t even have to cook a full meal daily as there are often leftovers from the day before. But hey fine our new flat has one extra room, so 100 bucks be it. I’m not totally un-fine with it, as she doesn’t mop properly any longer, you see our new lace has some old un-glossy marble so the dirt will show up less fast to an untrained eye than in our old place, so she just mops twice as fast as she used to in a flat that is bigger than the old one and think she can get away with it. She never took into account that I have a keen eye and the first time I pointed it out to her she tried pretending these stains where old stains and would never come off, she was defeated when I took the mop broom from her and applied a tiny amount of pressure on the stick and pushed it over the stain…poof and it was history! She silently went back to her chores, made an effort and 3 days later went back to her old ways, pretending then that I ran out of floor cleaner…for the 3rd time I opened the cabinet in the kitchen were the cleaner was only to see the look of astonishment on her face, as if she never ever got that piece of information, and it went on a couple of more time, until she decided my mop broom was no longer good and went with a normal mop, still leaving stains of course, and me to point it out each time and her to shrug. Last week I caught her pouring a generous amount of dish wash drops into the mop water. Alarmed I asked her what was going on, and she replied that I didn’t have floor cleaner, to which I opened the cabinet for her to see that my bottle of Domex, the same she used in our old flat was still there. She had the audacity to tell me that the domex was for the bathroom, pointing that the picture on the bottle showed a toilet…yes because using a bottle that shows a plate and a drinking glass is totally ok to clean the floor…I get the logic here.
She is taking leaves all the time, half the time the dishes aren’t done properly and just this week I saw she used the dish sponge to scrub some dirt somewhere else considering how many dogs hair was stuck on it, but she still thought it was fine to use to wash more dishes instead of asking for a new one! Both DH and I are fed up with her and the only thing that is stopping us from firing her so far is the fact that training a new maid might prove to be even worse for our nerves. Right now we just clean behind her, while I toy with the idea of just doing without a maid once and for all, proper cleaning tools are becoming more common which could slash the daily amount of time it takes to clean a house in India in half, especially with the new steam mops I saw on online shopping sites…I’m just a few couple of thousands bucks short of seeing it as a good investment.

All in all I am fed up with the whole art of finding excuses to mediocrity around here. There, said it and got it off my chest…wew.


  1. HAH!

    India will certainly test your BS-0-meter!!!

    The lack of professionalism & basic courtesy never ceases to amaze me at ALL levels.

    It isn't always employees that are full of BS though, sometimes the customers/clients are just as bad if not worse!

    Recently when we were in Delhi I went to Mothercare (a division of Shoppers Stop) to buy kid's clothes.
    So I pick out about 5,000 INRs worth of merchandise & go stand in line at the cash register to make my purchase.
    Infront of me is a middle aged woman nicely dressed in a sari screaming & gesticulating wildly at 4 male service representatives behind the cash registers. She is making about a 500 INRs purchase of 6 pairs of children's socks- he husband is timidly behind her ( very professional looking in suit & tie).
    After about 15 minutes of her 'scream-a-thon' my husband comes over to see what the hold up is.
    I tell him I don't know- (she is screaming in Hindi).
    So my husband listens in & starts laughing.
    I ask what's going on?

    My husband says the sari clad woman is screaming at the sales representatives to give her 15 big paper shopping totes for her 6 pairs of socks-for free. The sales representatives are politely telling the lady- 'No Madam we can not give you 15 free totes for a 500INR purchase.'
    Oh my goodness.
    So this 'scream-a-thon' goes on for 10 minutes more, with no resolution in sight.
    I finally yelled- "Call security & get this woman out of here or I'm leaving!" "Ring me out NOW!"
    Security was still standing in the doorway meekly looking on.
    Immediately 2 of the sales reps trying to placate the screaming woman run to my assistance & I FINALLY get to make my purchase. (Screaming sari woman with hubby in tow is still screaming about totes.)
    Sheesh! You'd think they'd value a 5,000INR customer over a 500 INR customer.
    My maid does the same crap, I have to go around & make sure she actually cleans & uses the appropriate product.
    Everyday it is the same routine.

  2. Wow your comment somehow got lost between blogger and Disqus and it sure took time to recover it, sorry about that.

    And yes I agree there are customers here in India that really make a fuss for ridiculous things, I can totally picture the sari clad lady trying to bag free totes.
    back in Geneva I did work as what is refered as "hostess" in French at some special events, when in fact you are just a freebie gifts distributor, they are dream student jobs because they are in a high salary braket as far as even job go, mostly because they are temp job with each lasting only a few hours or day at a time. I suspect the other reason you get such a high temp salary for that job is that you are directly in the crosshair of mad people wanting to bag a free gift, no matter how stupid the gift is to begin with. Two of them were the most memorable, it was while the national circus was in town, and the main sponsor that was a department store had one show booked for their employee's kids, we as "hostess" where just here to protect the store's mascot from being pounded by exited kids (while the poor guy in the costume could barely see and stand in that oversized outfit) then at the end of the show distribute key rings to the kids, the protecting the mascot part was fine, and the fact we got paid to watch the show as well was great, but the 30 minutes worth of key ring distribution...OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! It wasn't the kids that cared much for them, rather it was the parents that morphed instantly into a horde of rabid beasts intent of killing whoever came in the way of their reaching that stupid keyring, and there were those who wanted to know if they could get 6 extra one for all their nieces and cousins who weren't able to attend that show, pushing us hostesses, or suffocating us to get their "precious" was also totally acceptable. A few days later I attended another event organized by the same department store as part of the circus thing: the parade of the elephants, all the circus elephants parade around town, the store's mascot is safe in a car, the hostesses distribute plastic flags to kiddos all along the route taken by the elephants, then at the feeding stop we were to distribute trinkets or toys to those coming near the car. I was working along with a newbie to that kind of event that day, I knew what to expect, she didn't. The flags were enough to make people nut and grab it out of their hands like their life depended on them but at least they kept from crowding the road thanks to 6-7 huge elephants walking next to us, but as predicted all hell broke loose once we stopped for the elephant's snack time, we got pushed, pulled, squished, punched, bumped into and practically pushed into the convertible's trunk, for what was essentially plastic crap that would a few day later end up in the dustbin. After we were done the event's manager drove us back to the store to go pick up our bags and sign our salary slips and the other girl was still shaken and just couldn't believe people could turn so rabid for plastic flags. I offered a sympathetic "Yeah this is nut, but you'll get used to it" and the manager told us that in the 15 years he organized and animated promotional events for the store nothing was really amazing it anymore, he added that humanity just pretty much goes out of the window the instant you say the word "Free". He was well known enough to all those who shopped to that store for the "flash sale" events he usually hosts, where suddenly for one hour and one hour only everything that is already discounted during the sale goes at 50% off of the already discounted price, these are great because you get bargains, but people turn into scavenger, throwing things they don't like anywhere rushing to find the "good deal" out of the clearance bin before anybody else.


Blog Archive