Friday, July 26, 2013

An education

I am acquainted with a couple of people, who take great pride in retelling stories about how they were at the receiving end of bad service from either a restaurant or a resort or a store, and how they managed to make the individuals apologise and pay for their misdemeanours (real or perceived).
 Indeed, though I am not given to brag about it, I have faced such issues, myself. 

I recently had an interesting experience:

My mother had to undergo a surgery and we headed to the hospital to get an admission on the eve of the scheduled surgery. Now, this hospital – a branch of a large and well renowned hospital throughout India - was about 40kms outside of Bombay and the drive was tiring.
When we reached the place, the procedure for getting an admission proved to be extremely enigmatic.  We waited around for 3-4hours before the resident doctor even met us. We had little or no information about the procedure, or, if we even would have the surgery as scheduled.

While we were faced with this traumatic experience, a ward boy, Mahesh, came over. He asked us where we were from and enquired about my mom’s health.
We also managed to slide in a few questions, such as- when would the admissions happen?, was there a private ward that we could get? etc
Though he did not know too much about how it all worked, he helped us as much as he could.

After about 5 hours, at 10pm (less than 12 hours before the surgery) we managed to get a private ward and Mahesh came around, to check if everything was okay.
Now, in my experience, this sort of behavior normally indicates that he was expecting some money from me for all the help rendered. So 4 days after the surgery, when we were about to get a discharge, I took Mahesh aside, thanked him and handed him some money.

To my shock, he refused to accept even a single rupee from me! He told me, “I don’t help patients because I expect money from them. I help because I can and not because you would give me money for my help. Please take the money back. Your mother’s health and best wishes are reward enough”

Now, here was a ward boy, young, not very well paid, one of the employees on the lower rungs of the organization and he refused to accept money from me.

Today, I wrote an email to the hospital, telling them how good the service was (except the initial admission bit) and pointed out Mahesh in particular.

In 10 minutes, I got this response from the Director of the organization. He had copied in the entire staff on his response –

 “Dear Apoorv

You have made my day!
 I am so proud and pleased to hear this - all he did was a sincere act of responsibility but in todays world it really stands out. He probably is at the lowest rung in our organization but all of us can learn from him.”

For the Director of such a large organization to respond to an email within minutes of receiving it, for an employee on “it’s lowest rung” to refuse to accept any money. To say I am impressed would be an understatement.

Over the last few weeks I have had an education. This was one among the many lessons.