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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cell phones

I have two cell phones. One of them is with me for the last seven years. It was provided to me by the organization I work for. When the organization decided to migrate from one service provided to another three years ago, it became necessary to change the number. I decided to keep the old one transferring it to my account from the account of the organization because of mainly two reasons. First, my number has already been known to a lot of my acquaintances and it was impossible for me to inform each of them about the change of number. Secondly, I had doubts about the new service provider my organization was subscribing to.
So, the new number become my official number and the old number was there primarily to receive calls from friends and acquaintances - in case someone who does not have my new number needs me.
Yesterday I received a call in my old number from someone I do not know. As he spoke, I came to know that he was a train passenger waiting to board a train, but he could not do so as there was no general second class coach attached to that train, except for the one reserved for army personnel, and he was holding a general second class ticket.
He was obviously very much agitated at that moment. as soon as I picked up the phone he asked me whether it was a railway inquiry number or not. Though I said that it was not a railway inquiry number, he continued with his complaint as to why the authorities issue general second class ticket when the train has no general second class compartment. He did not even bother for a second to find out whose number he has called or whom was he talking to.
Now, it was an issue which was not under my jurisdiction or control. People who know railway operations will appreciate that the entire process of running the organization is highly departmentalized. While Operating department handles the composition and running of the trains, it was the commercial department which issues ticket.
So, I told him to get in touch with the station manager and lodge a written complaint with him because that was the procedure. If someone has committed a mistake by issuing tickets for a particular class of travel without ensuring that alt least a coach is available for the class of travel for which tickets were being issued, there was absolutely no way to rectify that fault instantaneously at that moment.
Once he has completed talking, I asked him where did he get my number, as it was no more listed in the directory of my organization. He said, it was given to him by a local satellite television news channel. It was obvious that the passenger, once agitated over the prospect of not finding a place in the train, immediately contacted the television news channel to complain. Someone in the news channel, who once was probably my professional acquaintance, had given him my old number.
While it was very sensible on part of the news channel not to go immediately into air and instead provide the number of the PRO, this seemingly innocuous incident has the sound of three very important warning bells. One, people are increasingly turning to media with their grievances as the common perception about media is that of a huge might striving to set everything wrong in correct order, a giant that can ably punish any wrong doer. Second, people hardly bother about etiquette of talking over cell phones making it a big nuisance. And the third, most of us are hardly ever educated about the grievance readdress mechanism built into any organization.

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