I recently happened to visit a MTNL QCSC. Ironically, QCSC expands to Quick Customer Service Centre. I had to submit an application for a new telephone connection.Being a government office I was expecting some delay in proceedings. What followed was to become a real test of my patience.
I walked in and stood at the assigned counter. Seeing only 3-4 people I was hopeful it'll not be a very time consuming. I heard a lady seated behind me scream "Dikhta nahin hai peeche line hai. Line mein aa." I stared down the corridor to see the line stretching to some 20 people. I myself being a person who hates intruders in a queue, obliged by taking one of the seats at the end.
On my left was a man, who reminded me of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Not that I am condescending toward those who cannot afford grooming themselves, but then when you are getting yourself a plan of Rs.2000 a month for unlimited calling, I doubt you can't afford the little bit for yourself. Seemingly unkempt and shabby hair, stained cream shirt and to top it all, smelling drunk from top to bottom. He kept staring at me as if I was wearing Eskimo clothes.
After 15 minutes or so of making me feel terribly conscious of my appearance, he asked me, "Aapko English aati hai?" I nodded. "Mujhe yeah form bharke denge." I was very hesitant in helping this person out as I got terrible vibes from him. I pointed it out to him that behind the form, there was a form in Hindi too for people like him. I was more than pleased to inform him that he needed original documents to go with it, which he didn't have. He was on his way back home and my wait eased out a bit.
In the meanwhile I realised I had moved only 4 seat to the left. Approximating the time it'll take to reach the counter, I could have actually made hi-hello conversations with every person in the line.
An uneventful hour went by and I was almost at the counter. Like a warrior on the brink of victory, I finally moved to the person sitting there and handover the form. He tells me I had to get the form checked at the other counter. If only I had a sledgehammer I would have loved to smash it on his face. I coaxed him into accepting my form pointing out there were no mistakes whatsoever. He said "badde sahab se baat karo."
Almost certain that I'll have to bribe the person in case I wanted to skip the monotonous process of waiting again, I decided I'll go ahead and meet him. After showing him the papers, to my surprise, he actually stamped them for me and asked me to go back to the counter. What a respite!! If I had to again stand in the queue I would have never finished the procedure before office hours end.
I go back to Table No.8. The man just couldn't stop pissing me off. He told me he has to go on a tea-break. Another delay of 20 minutes. I could see him standing there and gossiping with the Mrs.Dikshits and Mrs.Kales of the office but he wouldn't come back and resume his work. I was beginning to get the feeling I should have consulted an astrologer before leaving home. Shortly past his resuming work, he gave me the news that the network was down and I'll have to wait. Yeah, right, that's news. What had I been doing all this while then?!
It took about a quarter of an hour for the system to come back on the net and finally my form was accepted. It should have been a 10 minutes formality from there on but no, our dear friend refused to type at more than 2 mpw (note that typing speed is generally measured in words per min i.e. wpm). It took me almost half an hour to get the receipt. I didn't want to say this, but out of courtesy, I told a rude thank you and walked off.
The very next moment, there was a "CLOSED" tag on the counter with some 15 people still waiting for their turns. I wondered, may be the stars were with me!!!