It was 4:58 in the morning. I was outside the gates of the airport. Sleepy eyed, bored, bugged with a traffic jam in the early morning at the airport check post, yet forced to wait there grumpily looking at the cop who wanted to verify whether I was indeed who I claimed to be. And then I walked in, went towards the airline counter. I presented my ticket and I thought that maybe the airline staff had been trained to smile and so they would, but they played mirror mirror - I looked grumpy, they looked grumpier!
And then the lady said, " check in is 30 minutes before take off. Sorry." Exasperated, I look at my watch. 5.03, it says. Take off was at 5:30.
"But I am 3 minutes late! And that was because the cop outside was building a caricature of mine in his head, while verifying my identity. And his friends further out were allowing cars to go in a trickle and somewhere in the middle someone decided to stop the car in the middle of the road and say her poignant goodbyes."
"Sorry ma'am. Pick up your new ticket outside, our flight is tomorrow at the same time. Oh and don't forget to pay the fare difference", she said and bluntly walked off.
3 minutes is mean. No airline's flight takes off on the dot, and definitely not those of the airline I am talking about. Then how could they enforce strict time lines on me, when they don't live their own word? Ok, there is no written script that says that a plane must take off at the designated time, but there is a written script that check in closes 30 minutes prior to departure. OK fine, at least some empathy? Poor soul coming in in the dead of the night! But no way. Have chance to prove ascendancy - will do so.
The other day, I was at a Govt. office. I needed a small clarification and this gentleman behind the counter was counting notes. Yup, counting currency notes and not just one bundle, but rather a whole pile - presumably settling the day's transactions. And I had a query about where to sign! My task 2 minutes, counting notes - God knows! But no. I asked, and he put up his hand - wait. I waited. He moved to bundle number 2. I asked again. He signaled - wait. I waited. And this went on for 15 minutes after which he looked up and said, " Oh that, go and ask at counter number 1." Empathy again. Someone is waiting, and her time is perhaps as important as yours. But no. Have chance to prove ascendancy - will do so.
It gets quite frustrating, when you know that someone would have to make a very small concession for you to book a huge gain! Waive off 3 minutes, so you can make a flight. Just listen for a second, so you can get your job done. Apply a bit of my point of view to a situation and accommodate my wish, at no cost to you! But when people are in positions of less power, I feel, that they do not wish to squander any chance to let you know that they can exert the force of their will on your plans! And that does not feel good. Irritation, exasperation, desperation, generalization verily follow - 'Man, why can't she let me check in?' 'Just tell me where I need to sign, and I can get on with my life!' ' Pleeeease... I have to be on that plane, and it is just 3 minutes.' 'Man, these government people are lazy' - are standard responses!
Can we do anything about this? I guess yes, next time we're in a position of 'power', let's look from the other person's perspective before saying a blatant NO.