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It was 1st January, the first day of the year and a holiday for me. What luck! I started by thinking of getting the bank work out of the way. The bank person, an elderly gentleman with a white beard, was, as usual, curt to my polite "Happy New Year." He nodded and I sat in front of him.
Minutes passed and nothing happened.
Then very hesitantly I put my form and booklet in front of him. He was busy filling up entries in his register. After a few minutes he took my form and from his cabinet he took out a very thick file from which he started filling in my details. I sat there wondering why we had computerized banking if we were still filling in forms and registers.
After waiting for a few more minutes, in which I showed all signs of being impatient, I asked him if my work was done. The moment I uttered the words, I felt as if a bombshell had fallen on him. He shouted, "Nothing is done, it will take time!"
Just then I saw his morning cup of tea which had been lying there for the last ten minutes, untouched. The tea had turned almost cold while he was doing his work. Suddenly I felt what this man, who had been working at this counter for the last God-knows-how-many years, must be feeling when customers like me come who are always in a hurry to get their work done. We do not even feel the need to thank them for being there. He must be feeling so agitated that "here comes another person who will push me for doing his work first."
On an instinct I told him, "Sir, you please have your tea, I am not in a hurry." This man, who I had been seeing for the last few years, suddenly looked up at me and for the first time we had eye contact—he had never made eye contact earlier. I saw a different person there, another human being who was as hard-pressed for time as I always am.
I saw both of us sailing in the same boat. I felt that he was also missing the small things in life like a hot cup of tea or lying in a warm bed for a few more minutes like me. He gave me a rare smile and said, "It is an everyday affair with me; you are not in a hurry but somebody else will come who will be in a hurry."
He really touched my heart with his wise words. I felt that we had all put shields on our hearts like we put gloves on our hands; we are scared to show our heart and reveal too much of ourselves. I felt that all this time I thought of him as a robot, someone who was there for my convenience, but today I suddenly felt a strange communion with him. I vowed to be more empathetic and friendly with people who help me with my work and be thankful that they are there for me.