Back during undergraduate days, my routine would be to catch a bus/share auto to Nungambakkam railway station, followed by the train ride to Tambaram. Also part of the routine, I must hasten to add, was the often delayed start on my part, which would then keep my friends (two of them) waiting at Nungambakkam for a little longer than they could tolerate. So much so, one of them had enough of it. He told me, towards the end of the third year, “If I had studied during the time that you kept me waiting, I would have become an IAS officer by now.” Although I would like to think that it was said partly in jest, I understood his point. There is nothing more annoying than to be kept waiting.
Not that I changed my ways any soon. I was still late to the cinemas, especially. I once came to PVR a good twenty minutes late to find my friend, with clenched teeth, waiting outside the auditorium. I had the printed tickets. M-booking was still in its infancy stage. Didn’t know what to say, I mumbled an apology and together we rushed in. Fortunately, the movie hadn’t commenced. As I found out on several future occasions, PVR start their shows late. They still do and may god bless them for that!
Now where was I? Yeah, what is it like to be kept waiting. I didn’t know, for I was the one who kept people waiting. That, however, is no longer the scenario.
There seldom passes a day without me waiting outside officers’ cabin, primarily IAS, waiting to be ushered in. I slip in the visiting card, bearing the name of my organization, through the office attendant. But before that, I am usually offered a piece of paper on which visitors are required to write their name and the organization they represent. But no thanks, I say. “Here, take my card!”
There are days, of course, when the waiting period is considerably short.
However, you can’t be counting on your lucky stars every now and then. You need to wait, I am often told. “Sir (yes, it’s always sir) is very busy. He is in a meeting with office staff”, to which I reply, “No problem. I shall wait (as always).”
Office staffs come and go but we (visitors) continue to sit on the uncomfortable bench kept outside. The wait is seemingly never ending. It is during such occasions when I am left to think, “Why couldn’t he (officer) just spare some time and then off I’ll be gone!?” An alternate voice soon resonates in my mind. “Why couldn’t you just go to Nungambakkam a little early and then off we’ll all be gone?!”
An important thing to be mindful of while visiting officers is to know their schedule. There have been several instances when I returned back without success. “Sir just left for the secretariat/high court. He won’t be available today.” In such cases, I try to retrieve my visiting card. However, on most occasions I just don’t because the effort makes you look silly. “Sir, can I atleast have my card back?”
A couple of days ago, I was waiting outside the cabin of transport department officer. An hour had passed but I was still not called for. On either side of me, there were two gentlemen. One was talking over the phone, the other on my right dozed off. In hindsight, I should have fallen asleep myself, as it took another half hour for the internal meeting to get over. Instead, I expectantly looked up every 10 seconds, wondering when the door would open and take me in.
PS: I put in EOM, as a matter of habit. After every copy, reporters do that to signify there ends the matter!