It was a hot humid Sunday morning. The sun was playing hide and seek, but the heat was still there drinking off the strength from people going about, doing their mundane stuff outdoors.
Sunday to me meant, grocery shopping. Given that it was month end it meant provision shopping as well. Me and my husband, we started early and reach out regular shopping haunt, a big commercial store situated in Paadi. We normally split the list to shop and go about shopping so that the whole process does not turn tiresome. This particular shop is famous for cheap prices and ever crowded billing areas. Given that I’m recovering from a bout of pox, it was decided that I would stand with the trolley in tow at spot near the vegetable section.
I found an empty row and parked my trolley behind a small stack of boxes. An employee of the store was stick on price tags to the rusk packets present in the box. He then went on to stack it away on the rows for sale. I pulled out my phone and started to read a book on the kindle app. Minutes passed and the din at the vegetable area grew louder. I decided it was high time I closed the book. I couldn’t concentrate on a book with that swelling crowd. Just as I was about to pocket the phone, I felt my trolley being pushed towards me. The handle hit my mid-riff squarely and I howled in pain. That’s when I noticed that two boys pushing their trolley and trying to get out of their way. They looked like college goers and had an air of arrogance. They apologized for namesake in that boring tone and pushed the trolley again without giving me time to move. That’s when I totally lost my cool and started blasting them off without warning. They simply threw a dirty bored looked and moved on.
I hadn’t noticed that the guy stacking the packets from the box had moved to the other side to leave way to these arrogant brats. He then consoled me saying that a lot of people are like this and they just get away with a silly apology. He told me about his plight and how often he ends up with a horrible back pain because people simply push the trolley without bothering to ask him move causing injury. They simply get away with a sorry because they are customers he reasoned.
For the next hour, until my husband returned, I counted no less than 19 instances where people didn’t bother to ask him to move. To them, he never existed. When he squeaked in pain of being hit, they apologized meekly and continued on without checking if he was okay.
He was invisible to them because he was an employee and they were the customer. Does it matter if some silly employee is injured? Does it matter if he is a human it too? Apparently it doesn’t. The most shocking observation was that all the 19 people who injured him dressed smartly, which may or may not imply that they are educated.
Evidently then, education has nothing to do with humanity. Isn’t that the whole point of having a moral science class or an ethics class? In fact, isn’t respecting humanity, the whole point of education. He is there working to ensure that his family is looked after, just like any other person. Then why the discrimination? At that moment, in that place, it felt like humanity had disappeared all together. What was curious was that, all those year of education seemed to have had no effect on intelligence. Aren’t all jobs the same? The compensation sure would different, but at the end of the aren’t we all employed people being paid for what we do?
The counter argument that it was foolish of him to work on the floor during peak hour is quite invalid in this context. He is a human. Would we treat our kith and kin if they were there in his place? He might have had his reasons, but that doesn’t warrant us to not treat a fellow human being like one. The plight of people employed in these so called super stores have already been brought to light by the Tamil movie ‘Angadi Theru’. The movie garnered rave reviews. However, that evidently hasn’t translated to compassion in real life.
Compassion & humanity = disappeared