Slave to the mobile phone
I usually receive quite a few calls on my mobile phone on any given day. So even after four hours of reaching office when I did not receive a single call, I was really surprised.
I thought my mobile phone must have gone to sleep as it does on many occasions. During such occurrences, I switch off the phone for a couple of minutes and, then, switch it one again. This does the trick and the phone springs back to life.
I, therefore, reached into my pocket to carry out the trick when I discovered that the good old mobile phone was not in the pocket.
In my hurry to leave for office in the morning, I must have forgotten it at home, I surmised. However, a little fear kept nagging me - what if I had dropped it somewhere on the way? I was almost certain I had forgotten the cell phone at home, but the doubt persisted and troubled me.
The hand piece had cost me quite a sum. Besides, I was worried about the possible misuse of the mobile phone if it fell into wrong hands if I had really dropped it.
I had to make sure. All that I had to do was to call up my wife at home and ask her to check whether the mobile phone was around.
I started a frantic check on my desk.
"What are you looking for?" Ajit my office colleague asked.
I told him about my apprehensions.
"So, if you are sure you have left your mobile phone at home, what are you looking for?" he repeated his question.
"I am looking for the mobile phone so that I can call up my home and ask my wife about it," I replied.
Ajit looked at me as if I had gone nuts and then broke into a loud guffaw.
I was a little taken aback at first and, then, when I realized what I was doing, I too broke into a laughter. I really had gone nuts!
I picked up the office phone and called up my wife. The good old mobile phone was safe in the house.
Those were the days when the state-owned telephone company enjoyed complete monopoly and faced no competition. Mobile phones were unheard of in those days and the telephone company provided only land-line connections. Being the only telephone company, its employees were looked upon with awe.
The telephone company used to publish a telephone directory annually listing the names of the subscribers. A private operator had tied up with the telephone company for the purpose of publishing yellow pages that were to be appended to the directory. Yellow pages refers to a telephone directory of businesses organized by categories and the business houses had the choice to insert their advertisements in the yellow pages so as to get a prominent display. The revenue from these advertisements was the source of income for the private operator which had tied up with the telephone company.
The private operator needed people to gather advertisements. I applied for the job and got it. There was a big team. For a week, we were coached in sales skills and, thereafter, began the actual task. Each of us was provided a list of telephone numbers and we had to approach the owners of these telephones. If the owner happened to be business people we had to endeavour to obtain advertisements while domestic users could opt for a bold listing in the telephone directory at a fee so that their names were prominently displayed (normal listing was, of course, free).
It was a tough task! Why would domestic users opt for bold listings in the directory? So long as their names appeared in the directory, they were happy. It really did not matter if the names appeared in bold. As regards the business people, many were not keen to advertise as yellow pages were, then, a novel concept. Let me not bore you with the frustrations we faced (the frustration was tremendous since we received no salary but a commission on the advertisements we secured). The treatment that we received was also varied - some people received us courteously while most others dismissed us summarily. Anyway that was a part of the job.
Diligently pursuing the list of addresses with me, I approached a house one day. It was domestic user and I could not hope for any business. Yet the owner had to be contacted and asked whether he would prefer a bold listing. I pressed the door bell and the door was opened by an elderly woman. I introduced myself and she asked me to step inside. I was surprised - very few people had shown even this much courtesy. Other than the woman's husband, no one else was at home at that time.
Asking me to sit on the sofa, the woman entered the kitchen and soon came out with a glass of water and some sweets on a plate. I was overwhelmed.
I began my sales talk and explained in detail the reasons behind my visit. The jaws of the couple fell in disappointment. "Oh, I thought you are from the telephone company," the woman exclaimed.
When the reason behind the royal reception became clear to me, I was also crestfallen. Needless to say, I did not get any business from the good couple (there was none to be expected). I left the house dejected and, yes, the sweets had remained untasted.