Getting Others To Do For You

The man counted the currency note bundle given by the cashier. He felt it was short by a note.

‘M’m, could you kindly load it in the counting machine and check it out for me?’

The cashier sounded impatient, her manner less than friendly‘Why, is it less…..look I’m busy, don’t have the time. Why don’t you count it yourself carefully once, twice, eh?

‘No, M’m, I think there’s a note or two in excess.’

The bundle was hastily snatched from his hands, counted on the machine multiple times and given back.


It works when a service-delivery-chain is drawn into the transaction with stakes enlarged beyond the transaction!


A Morning At The Bank


This morning, I was at the bank. Two tasks to accomplish: find the balance in the joint account in the name of my daughter and wife – this was not accessible online, and draw some money from the ATM, located also on bank’s premises.

I went up to the lady at the Inquiry counter – surprisingly there was no queue. Gave her the account’s check-book I had carried and asked to know the balance. The lady read the names on the check-book and looked at me. And said she cannot disclose. I knew what it was: I was not the account-holder; hence she would not divulge. But then they were my wife and daughter and what more, I had their check-book to show. I explained. She stood her ground.

At that instant, much as I hated admitting, strictly speaking, she was in the right.

Not off to a good start, I was annoyed. The old murphy syndrome was playing out: You see a loose end of a string and you tug happily. That’s when you find its other end is tied to an elephant, an African kind. I pulled out in a huff, ‘thanking’ her for being so helpful in a slightly raised voice, not waiting to see/hear her reaction.

Went to R, my personal banker – yes, marked as a Preferred Customer I was privileged to have one (is it really a good thing you’re liked by your bank?). I knew he would help me out – he always did. He was not on his seat. Called him on his cell. Got an SMS saying he would call me back in about ten minutes. Maybe he was tied up with another customer.

So, I could turn to my second task. Shouldn’t be taking long.

Did I hear someone laugh?

Going up to the ATM always made me nervous, not being a frequent user. Which way to insert the card? I never seem to remember. After repeated wrong insertions into the slot – am I glad they have not built these machines yet to emote annoyance and irritation – I managed to withdraw cash, helped by a youngster in the adjacent booth who appeared to have mastered the art of negotiating with these machines. He imparted wisdom with a rule: the card must be inserted with the magnetic stripe on the face down and to the right.  Or, was it to the left? Whatever it was, it worked. I’ll figure it out when it’s next time.

Here I must break off to go onto one of my favorite rants: After all this talk of UX (user-experience) industry-wide, why in the world would they allow for so many ways of inserting a card into a slot? Shouldn’t they polarize it in some manner with a notch or something so there’s only the right way? Or print a marker on the card itself or a picture on the machine.

Before you dismiss me as machine/automation-challenged retard, let me call in a ‘friend’: Richard H. Thaler – an American economist, Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, many other titles and positions and an awardee of 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to behavioral economics. Impressed? In a recent address on ‘Choice Architecture, he cited the example of the design of the Paris subway card, which, expecting errors, allows users to insert it into an electronic turnstile in any of four ways to gain entrance to the subway. “Compare that to exiting the parking garages of Chicago,” he said. “You have to put your credit card in and there are four possible ways up, down, left, right and exactly one works. This is the difference between good and bad design.”

So, you see, I’m not an alien😊 More than you, I needed to be reassured myself.

But I’m digressing.

Let me get back to the intrigue-loving ATM machine. Withdraw cash I did, but those were all high denomination notes that are not easily accepted for smaller transactions. So, I went back and queued up for changing the notes, smartly shunning the longer and sluggish one meant exclusively for seniors.

When I emerged victoriously from accomplishing task 2, I was in two minds: should I wait at the bank for R to return or to run a few other errands first and check on the way back? I decided to follow the latter.

Just as I was heading for the exit, I sighted the ‘helpful’ lady at the inquiry counter gesturing animatedly to get my attention. Now what? I had asked, she had refused, that’s it – never mind she was right. Had nothing more to do with her. Didn’t want anything more to do with her at least for now. Warily I took a couple of steps towards her and then I saw – my heart skipped a few beats; she was holding my ‘life’ in her hands, a small leather pouch containing my credit cards, PAN (copy), Aadhar (copy), house keys and a few other in-use id cards.  It must have fallen out of my shoulder-bag during my intense communion with the ATM.

She gave it to me without a trace of resentment in her eyes, voice or gestures…worse than shaming.

I thanked her more than a couple of times with as much grace I could muster and came away. It wasn’t easy. Missed asking her name or who brought the pouch to her.

Moral of the story? Well, simply, it’s a reminder we need from time to time: It pays to be polite and helpful in a world where for good part of a day we are either serving or served.




Lessons To Learn…From A Bank Robbery

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During a robbery in Lagos, Nigeria, the bank robber brandishing a gun shouted to everyone in the bank:

“Don’t move. The money belongs to the State. Your life belongs to you. Don’t you risk it.”

Everyone in the bank laid down quietly.

This is called “Game-changing concept,” changing the conventional way of thinking.

When a lady tried to flirt provocatively, the robber shouted at her: “Please be civilized! This is a robbery and nothing else!”

This is called “Being professional,” focusing only on what you are trained to do!

When the bank robbers returned home, the younger robber (MBA by distance learning) told the older robber (who has only completed Year 6 in school):

“Big brother, let’s count how much we got.”

The older robber tut-tut’ted:

“You are silly. There is so much money it will take us a long time to count. There’s an easier way – tonight, let’s hear the TV news to tell us how much we robbed from the bank!”

This is called “Experience.” Nowadays, experience more important than academic qualifications!

After the robbers had left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the
police quickly.

But the supervisor said to him:

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“Wait! Let us take out $1 million from the bank for ourselves and add it to the $3 million that we have previously embezzled from the bank”.

This is both “Thinking out-of-the-safe, nay, box,” looking at it creatively and “Swimming with the tide,” converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage!

The supervisor says:

“It will be good if there is a robbery every month.”

This is called “Killing boredom.” Personal happiness is more important than your job.

The next day, the TV news reported $6 million was taken from the bank.

The robbers counted and counted and counted, but they could only count $2 million.

They were mighty angry: “We risked our lives and only took $2 million.


At the end of the day, the bank manager and the supervisor were smiling, happy with taking $4 million quite effortlessly.

This is called “Seizing the opportunity,” daring to take risks! Dare not fare not.

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Have you ever seen an episode packing so much of practical wisdom? Well, it is now becoming a part of the curriculum in many business schools.

Credit: (njuwo), (rg1024, tzunghaor, leandrosciola)