A Smile Here. A Smile There.

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He looked visibly frustrated. And he had reasons to be so. He’d been on his feet for almost half the day and the ordeal was not over yet. He kept shuffling his feet across the floor, trying to visit each table more than once. He knew his boss was keeping a tab. He had to sell the offer they had just rolled out. He collected the offer pamphlets from the doorman’s podium.

He walked to the nearest table. The occupants were conversing. “It is bad manners to intrude,” his teacher had taught him in school. He didn’t want to intrude but his job demanded otherwise.  He went up to the table, excused himself and started explaining the offer to the customers in the middle of their meal and conversation. Halfway through, they took the pamphlet and resumed their conversation. Not a smile, not an acknowledgement, not even the plain old nod. He called it the ‘wallpaper theory’ – he was like the wallpaper, essential but not cast a look at, never smiled at and walked past. Well, at least they were better than those customers who turned around to shout at him, or be rude, or asked him to go away! Oh yes, there were such too. They’d look up and say, “Could you go away?” If only they knew how to even say please.

Every trip to the bathroom involved washing his face more than peeing. Waiting on tables wasn’t his dream job, this was no one’s dream job but if he wanted to get a monthly cash deposit in his bank, this would have to do. He had to remind himself every couple of hours that this job was more important than rude and impolite customers, than being treated like wallpaper, than having to carry people’s soiled plates, sleeping with a pain in the feet which seemed like it would never go away again, and a bruise to your self respect each damned day. But it would have to do. They say no job is small, yet the way they behave each day belittles him.


I met Bhanu, who works at a fast food outlet here in Bangalore. I don’t know what his story is, why he does what he does, how he motivates himself to wait on tables all day long, how he lets out all the frustration that is more than visible on his face, but I am sorry I couldn’t get a smile on his face! Probably one smile from me wasn’t enough to make up for his tough day!

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Let’s try harder next time and be more polite to the ones who have jobs that could not be further away from the term ‘job satisfaction’. Can we do that?

Graciously Yours!

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6 thoughts on “A Smile Here. A Smile There.”

  1. Being a waitress was something I did to work my way through school. You can add having to wear high heels and a skimpy, little uniform with a mini-skirt to the list of indignities that were the usual daily grind. Not an easy job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Respect for you for having pulled that off! People on the other side of the table aren’t always the nicest, including me. But not anymore. Change comes from within. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A touching post on how people struggle and stand on their feet not to be acknowledged. I find it sad. You treated the post in a rare and uniquely sensitive manner. It reminds me of the wonderful hotel staff at Trident who would stand on their feet during the whole day but always with a smile on their faces. Love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Vishal! I can’t tell you how difficult it was for the guy to smile at me when I gave him a smile. He looked forlorn and distraught like he had been treated unfairly. And I wouldn’t disagree if he came and told me that today.
      I hope people are nicer to them after reading this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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