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Friday, June 10, 2011

Negligence – carelessness – pleading – highhandedness – adjustment – what ails the Nation ?

The commercial  "Time to make the donuts!" showing  Fred rising well before dawn to begin making the donuts  was named one of the five best commercials of the 1980s by the Television Bureau of Advertising.  “Please adjust’ and ‘wait a minute’ – one would hear this quite often and at very many places.  We as a Nation seemingly adjust to everything.  Is it good or bad depends on the context !   To say that something is not working right, when factually it is not is not unpatriotic.

There are times when on a narrow lane, you think that no place exist and one cannot move forward at all – in the narrowest of lanes, one could see some pedlar on the footpath, a parked vehicle, an autorickshaw, some one walking, some cattle and you on a two wheeler.  You need not have to give up at all – a few seconds later, you could see the auto driver drawing to a side, asking you and the other to go and in that seemingly improbable lane, all vehicles would move – peaceful coexistence one would think……..  some bad days, sparks might fly in the same situation with every one enquiring on whether the others posses little brain at all ?

If you are standing in the Queue at Railway station, sure someone would cut through and try to go ahead – would cite umpteen reasons for violating and pushing those who are standing for long.  This you can experience invariably anywhere – stand in the bank for withdrawing amount  or in the ATM for that matter – one would approach telling that their withdrawal is for an emergency and hence he needs to do that faster than you.  Many a times, the womanfolk would deem it a privilege to overtake others in the queue just because of their gender unmindful of the others who could be much older and ailing.  During the elections, there were news of a cine actress just walking ahead of those waiting in the hot sun to cast her vote.  To her, her coming to vote itself was a great happening for the Nation and others perforce have to wait.

Then comes the impolite asking of others to sacrifice their legitimate right.  In a train compartment which is supposed to seat 3 – people would get into the reserved compartment and would royally sit pushing those with reservation – those who enter [some could be Railway employees in whose packet you could see the Union affiliation – feel mightily privileged than the one with the ticket] would never mind the difficulty of the passenger – to them, others live for adjusting to their needs.  The seat would expand to hold place for 5, 6 or more unmindful of the inconvenience to the elderly, children and others with some difficulty.  If you travel in Public transport or in a shared auto, you would feel people all over you – adjust…..

Then you may not find the person manning the seat in a bank, post office or in any other utility. This is not restricted to a Govt. or PSU set up but common in any Private company also – you will be directed to a particular seat and the one who were to address that work would not be there – if you can somehow attract the next person and elicit information on the whereabout of the man/woman supposed to be there – the reply would be ‘please wait for a minute of two – they will come’  - the minute or two can extend beyond….. is your misfortune.
You go to a Super market or a Grocer and buy a lot of things – are you really sure that you are billed rightly or you get all the items that you have been billed and paid for – chances are that – human error gives place for error.  If you are to spot out the mistake, most unlikely that they would apologise but might return a cold stare as if you are making a mountain out of a molehill.  If you escalate, the so called Supervisor is likely to say – ‘yes something of a mistake – please adjust’. Not to hail Western Countries, but to think of the fact, they are perhaps better or are they litigants – to fight everything in a Court of Law of in a Forum ?   

The memory and agility of those at service industry -  be it hotel servers, the billing clerk in super markets, sales person in a small mobile shop, those in
Ritchie street
is commendable.  Still there are occasions when you are served something which you had not ordered for but is billed might happen !  If you give some special instruction – say ‘without sugar’ or ‘without ice’ – chances are that what you were served might still have that.  One would even try to cover up stating that ‘it is the natural sweetness’ or ‘cold because it was refrigerated’ and so on.  We do give in easily.

Here is something about a civil suit filed recently in Philadelphia.   Sure you have heard of  Dunkin' Donuts  advertised as  America's favorite every day, all-day stop for coffee and baked goods.  This international doughnut and coffee retailer was  founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts by William Rosenberg. Though the name suggests focus on donuts and other baked goods, over half of Dunkin' Donuts business today is in coffee, making it more of a competitor to Starbucks as opposed to traditional competitors Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons.

A civil suit is reported to have been filed on the Company by a woman claiming that Donuts employee had  mistakenly put sugar rather than artificial sweetener into a diabetic woman’s coffee, triggering a reaction that sent the woman to the hospital.  The woman  became dizzy, disoriented and light-headed after drinking the sugary brew and ultimately had to be hospitalized because of diabetic shock, according to the suit.  It is reported that the woman claimed that  her diabetic symptoms have worsened as a result of the incident and she has had to increase the medications she uses for treatment.

The suit reportedly is for the financial detriment and loss arising out of her ailment.  It further reports that the Security at the premises had called for paramedics and transported her to a hospital, to be discharged few hours later.  Here the suit is primarily on the negligence of the Franchisee and employee in adding sugar instead of artificial sweetener – not adhering to the special instructions of the client.  The value of the suit is not specified. 
A report quoting the legal liaison of the defendant stated that the customers receive only what they order meaning that the company cannot try and read the mind but only will try to carry out the instruction – so somebody requiring sugar substitute will have to specify so. 

In suits of this nature, where little of documented evidence would exist – how the Courts take cognizance of the facts really wonders me.  Whether you see this Suit as preservation of one’s right or penalizing the wrong-doer or the so called  litigant mentality is subjective !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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