The Story About A Cup Of Tea – Building Enduring Relationships

Time was running out. There was no option – my wife decided she would go to the bank (public-sector) to get the Tax Deduction Statement (TDS) needed for income-tax computation. She would not let me go because of my suspected friendly leanings towards Covid.

Expectedly there were few customers in the branch. She asked for S, an officer, and when he walked up, she identified herself. The magic words ‘TXX’ spoken ‘opened the doors’!

‘Yes, M’m, come in,’ S was all deference. One would have thought she was some high officer from the HO on a sudden field-visit.  ‘TXX spoke a while ago. If you’ll kindly be seated here…I’ll get it in a couple of minutes. It’s all printed and ready.’

As she sat down, a cup of hot tea was served with sugar to add!! A feat far beyond you to equal. Forget tea, I challenge you to get for yourself a glass of water – you would be politely directed to a watercooler standing in the hall. And rightly so, after all a bank’s charter of customer services does not include…

In all my years of regularly visiting the bank, I was always politely ignored by the friendly staff, never rude, envied for the attention by the young lizard lounging in the ceiling, despite trusting them with all my life savings – not a huge pile though being a salaried employee all my life. Strictly not true – I distinctly remember the occasion I was on the center-stage, very briefly though, drawing looks from everyone around when I had sent the glass crashing on the floor at the watercooler. Apologies for a little flippancy there, I couldn’t resist.

I was surprised when the lady of the house returned so soon, mission accomplished.

Ah, there were hardly any customers, so the quick turnaround – explains it.  

But the part about tea, that was still intriguing.

May be S was related to TXX or a close friend – simple as that.

When TXX called to follow up if everything went off ok at the bank – incidentally therein lies the subject of this post, you’ll find out soon – I told him about the service-with-a-smile-and-tea-to-go-with-it and everything was fine.  S was neither a friend nor a relative of his, I learnt. TXX was not even a customer of the bank.

It made it all clear as mud in rain.

So, why the tea, I persisted.

It emerged TXX knew the bank’s regional HR manager.

Ah…so that was it.

Well, it was like this: Until recently TXX was the big honcho in a diagnostic-services company. And the bank was his client sending its employees for annual medical check-up covered under various plans.  When it was the HR manager’s turn, at the request of his office, TXX expedited the matters cutting down the wait for him. Simply said, but not simply done – needed TXX, located elsewhere, to call up the testing lab many times to ensure the manager was not unduly held up at any test station.

That was the beginning of the relationship that endures till date, also the moving force for the service-with-a-smile-and-tea-to-go-with-it. Not a favors-done-favors-asked kind of relationship. It continues though TXX has retired from service since and is no longer in a position to help in ways he did during employment. Yes, the two have never met so far!

Many of us in our employment and outside are in a position to help or do favors and we do. Setting him apart is the sincerity and thoroughness of the process, winning the day and setting relationships in concrete for TXX. He doggedly pursues and pushes the problem-owner into action until the intended end result is achieved. In the above bank episode, offering to help, he calls the bank up ahead and tells them what was needed to cut out the wait for my wife and then calls her up later to check if we got what we needed without hassle or anything more had to be done.

This ownership, often far more than the problem-owner’s, endears him to those who seek his help!

It is not limited to those who go to him – he extends himself to any situation he thinks he could be of some help. Comes to him naturally. An engineer first, puts in place solutions not obvious to many, including the grunt work entailed.

Our own experiences of this kind are too numerous to recount here.

And, finally, I have no problems confessing I fall way too short by this standard.



9 thoughts on “The Story About A Cup Of Tea – Building Enduring Relationships

  1. Very interesting story. I’m not sure I can imagine it happening in just that way in America where I grew up. Emphasis on service, yes, on taking that extra step, often yes, but not quite the long-lived and far-reaching behavior you describe. I wonder if, with your experience in the States, you would reach a similar conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A rare breed indeed. There is not a second man I know of.

      There is one clue to one part of his make-up – strong solution orientation. He spent all his years growing from a rookie engineer to a senior most position in equipment servicing where the pressure is high to get the equipment back into operation. The service proffesionals inmprovise a lot to make this happen. They loathe to leave a customer behind with a ‘down’ equipment.

      But the strong ownership he assumes – that’s a different thing I cannot easily explain. His personal slogan is ‘Make it happen’.

      In US, in my limited exposure, I have seen some repairmen go far beyond their call for the customer.

      Thanks, Terry.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Member of a small breed indeed. I remember how he followed up in my case, a mere acquaintance.
    Many of us would like to help but the extent falls far short of intent because of personal limitations such as sensitivity, ego, lack of courage… All politicians, honest or otherwise, have the right characteristics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A well-written interesting narrative which makes you smile about some things which exceed general expectation, while at the same time makes you think. Quite often in India and especially in the government, public sector and quite a few private sector companies as well, one least expect any service. Many people even tend to be very insensitive about it. Several people within the system also get very defensive if you talk about it and may even brand you as anti-national etc if you start questioning the powers that be. I wish some of these things could happen without pushing and unnecessary struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sudarshan. We are not generally brought up with a mind to be of service. This particular branch, to be fair, is not bad. they are ok. However recently things have really got worse due to reduction in staff. Queues are long at the counters. Added to the woes is frequent failure of communication links, passbook priniting machines….I also have seen staff going for their lunch an hour later due to the crowd waiting to be serviced. I suppose increased use of net/phone banking will bring much needed relief.


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