Recently there was this news. A man from Kerala had a friend who went to US for a job. He waited for the friend’s mail for that was a time when email was not popular. Months had passed by the time he received an air mail. It had a letter from the Poster Master General and charred remains of the letter from the friend. The former said that there was a plane crash in US and all the mails in it had caught fire. They could find a half burnt letter with address in a readable form and hence they thought of sending it to the addressee and apologized for the inconvenience caused.
It might have been years since this happened. Technology has advanced and we rarely depend on mails. My father being a writer, we still have mails coming in search of our house. Things went on smoothly until the new post-woman came. She was such a careless and a lazy bump that she would just throw the letters somewhere around the gate. The mail-box was a taboo for her.
We were supposed to be detective-minded to find the letters. She was testing our logical reasoning and basic physics knowledge for we had to solve the puzzles like, if she had thrown the letter from Point X where would it have fallen??? Finding the letters did not make us happy as they were mostly soaked in mud or water.
My sister had applied for passport. Days passed and we didn’t get any response and we made enquiries to track the status. We got the reply that the passport was returned by my post-office as they couldn’t find the addressee. I really got furious and the next time I saw the post-woman I yelled at her. As usual she did not admit her mistake. I threatened to file a complaint against her. Finally my mom interfered and brought me inside house.
There did not seem to be much change after that, but at times we got letters from the mail-box itself. On a Saturday I was lazily watching a movie and then the calling-bell rang. I was astonished to find the post-man at my door. She gave a stunning smile. “I have some mails for you”. Am I dreaming?! Then she told, “I’m very tired. Can I have some water please?” By the time my mom got her some water, she sat on chair in the sit-out. She drank the water and then handed over the letters. One among them was my sister’s passport. I thanked her but she remained on the chair without showing any intension to leave. Then she said slowly.“Normally when you get a passport people make their postman happy”. She felt that I was not listening as I was checking the letters. So she turned to my mom and repeated, “I was telling your daughter that normally when you get a passport, it is a practice that people make their postman happy.”
She was shamelessly asking for bribe! My face was getting reddened and my mom somehow packed her up saying “We have more passports to come. Then we’ll see”. I badly wanted to complain her and trouble her to the core. It is such a shame to see government officials begging for money. I can’t take it when I have to bribe a government official. I have seen many of them now. When compared to the officials in the water authority and electricity board, the post-woman is nothing. She was just a little more demanding than a beggar on the street, I would say. For the others you have to bribe them like hell if you want a new water/power connection, if you want them to come for inspection, if you want to convert your temporary power connection to permanent one and so on. I am not comfortable when my hard-earned money goes into the hands of these backboneless creatures.
The saddest part is that the complaint/grievance handling mechanisms would only end up troubling the one who complained more and more. Or one should have enough time to run behind your complaint. I remember an advertisement of a shoe in which a person had to visit an office every now and then as his payment was stuck there. He sadly says to the official that his shoe sole had worn off due to the daily visit to the office. As a solution the officer advises him to use the particular shoe! Even sadder part is that such employees cause a shame to the others who are very dedicated to the job.