Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for April 2017

Do you Email yourself?

Well, it is a strange question. But I am asking this publicly with the hope that some of you will nod your heads and I can get the comfort feel that someone else also does it and I am not alone in this.

I mail myself quite often. I don’t send any philosophical questions to myself. Instead, I use it as a reminder system.

For example, let us say I see a newspaper advertisement and want to buy that product later, I click a picture of that advertisement and Email it to myself. It stays in my inbox as a reminder to buy. After I have bought that product (or, after that urge to buy goes away), I simply delete that Email.

Like this, I keep sending Emails to myself throughout the week and those Emails act as my reminders. Trust me, it works.

A few weeks back, one of my clients was making a payment for a translation I did. He transferred Rs 1422, while my bill was Rs 1420.

I don’t know what made him pay 2 rupees extra. So, instead of checking with him about this small amount, I decided to adjust that amount in my next bill to that client.

But, his next job may come after a few days or a few weeks, how will I remember to adjust this amount?

Easy. Send a self-Email. I did it.

But, I made a mistake: at that time I was reading my client’s Email about the payment. Instead of composing a new Email to myself, I replied to the client’s Email itself. Means, my self-email went to somebody else, that too with this strange line: “Client X paid Rs 2 extra. Reduce this in next invoice.”

After a few minutes, my client (from Russia) responded with a smiley. “Come on, Rs 2 is nothing, you don’t have to repay it to me.”

Only after reading his Email, I realised my mistake. I responded to him with an apology note and explained that it was supposed to be a self-reminder. But I insisted that I would adjust this amount in my next invoice, whenever I am doing another translation with him.

He didn’t believe my explanation. He responded with this note: “Don’t get me wrong. But I feel you are trying to make a drama out of this situation and establish yourself as an honest person. I am working with you for many years, I know your skills and professionalism. You don’t have to fake anything to boost your image with me.”

I thought of sending him an angry response. But, I didn’t. No one will believe that I genuinely wanted to adjust/repay those two rupees. Let him assume that it is a drama. No harm.

There is nothing special in my thought process: none of us (under normal circumstances) would want to take away others’ money. Whether it is Rs 2 or Rs 20, we don’t want to steal, we just want what we genuinely deserve.

So, we all have done this: if a restaurant bill misses a sandwich you had, you inform the cashier and pay for it; if you don’t have coins to pay for a medicine you bought from a store, you return later to pay it. This is quite normal.

That’s exactly what I did. But, my client didn’t believe me. The reason could be the amount: Rs 2. In case he sent me Rs 200 by mistake and I wanted to repay it to him, he would’ve understood it and believed me.

But, what makes stealing Rs 2 a smaller crime, and stealing Rs 200 a bigger crime? If you believe you don’t want others’ money, returning Rs 2 should be done with as much sincerity/effort with which you would return Rs 2000 or Rs 2 Million. Isn’t it?

I haven’t read much about other cultures, but I believe this is a very common Indian Trait. I don’t mean to say Indians don’t cheat/don’t steal. Some of them do. But the majority believes in hard work and not taking others’ money, even if it is carelessly dropped in their laps. However small or big that amount is, they want to return it.

Why?

Rs 2 staying in my account or my client’s account doesn’t make any big difference to both of us. But I would feel heavy till that leaves my account and reaches him. I am not doing it (or writing about this experience) to get some ‘wows’ from others. I am doing it because I don’t feel good when I am keeping something which I don’t deserve. I want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

So, what happened to these two rupees?

Within next few days, I did another job for him and invoiced him for Rs 10212, instead of Rs 10214. Happy!

When I saw Lufthansa’s campaign #MoreIndianThanYouThink (bit.ly/2oQTj8q) video (embedded below), this is the incident that came to my mind immediately. I feel such an Indian value system contributes immensely to staying professional, doing a good job at every opportunity and staying ahead!

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N. Chokkan …

17 04 2017

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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