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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hello Sir

The shopping mall by the side of my office has hired a new trainer. And a really good one at that. Although, I don't know for sure but it seems like a fair deduction. For the past couple of months, the entire staff in that mall has been greeting all the visitors, including your humble narrator, with wide smiles and howdys. Actually, its more like Good mornings and Good afternoons than Howdys. Irrespective of the distance or whether you are looking at them, they will greet you as long as they can see you. They will greet you when you enter and they will greet you when you exit. Yesterday, I counted the number of times I was saluted. Seven times. At the entrance, at the escalator, at the ramp, at the rest-room and then back again. Like a clockwork orange.

To be frank, it did feel good in the beginning but now the effect is wearing off and is getting replaced by irritation. It is evident from their genuine smiles and eye-contact that they are expecting a response. You really don't want to be rude to them and try your best to accomodate but really, you are not getting paid to respond. They are. After the 3rd 'Hi', you are wishing to be invisible. You walk by the next attendant with your head down and looking furiously busy, probably plotting to overthrow the government, but promptly a 'Hello Sir' is uttered which forces you to, at a minimum, smile. And it is not a genuine smile, it is more like a little twitch of one corner of your pursed lips which may or may not be accompanied by a nod. Really, this is the best you can do and thus you feel guilty. Not a good feeling.

It doesnt matter if you happen to pass by the same attendant more than once, you can rest assured that he/she will greet you with the same enthusiasm as if you have met after a long time. It irritates the heck out of you. If I could behave like that with my friends, I could be famous. I am thinking of conducting an experiment of roaming around aimlessly, up and down, as if I am lost, just to see how many times one single attendant can tirelessly greet me. It may take an entire half a day so I will probably do it when my boss is back in office.

It reminds me of eager stewardesses in the business class section that you, sometimes, run into and who keep going 'Hello Mr. Beta - Would you like some dessert, Mr. Beta' etc. The first time she says your name, you feel good but not when it looks like an avalanche of your names with you standing at the bottom. Oh yes, you know she knows your name but how many times does she have to mention it. Perhaps, she needs a certificate of appreciation from you. It almost makes you feel embarassed of your own name. You really want to say 'No. Thats not me. But I would have the chocolate mousse anyway.'

Perhaps, there is something like overdoing when it comes to service, afterall.

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