Things remain same

Like all the best-made plans, ours too went awry moment we stepped into the bank.

‘I'm doing the work of four people here!’ The branch manager of the bank sounds beleaguered. I'm trying my best to be the sympathetic customer. Even as I'm listening to his tale of woe, I'm haranguing him in my mind for the inordinate delay.

Three people are flanking me on either side and grimly eyeing my chair from time to time. My husband and I lock eyes and in that inexplicable code that only couples understand, he tells me “Don’t vacate that chair or else!”

In the morning when my husband and I had set out to the bank, little did we realise what we were getting into. With more of us transacting online the need to stand in a queue or interact with humans for basic banking has somewhat lessened -- or so we thought.

Optimists or was it fools, that we were we thought we'd be in and out of there with our job done in no time. The whole process appeared simple enough. We had filled up the necessary forms, had all the documentation needed, and made sure that there were no loose ends. But like all the best-made plans, ours too went awry from the moment we stepped into the bank.

The manager is on a roll now that he has an audience. “One person has retired, another is on sick leave for the last few days, the new girl is still learning the ropes, and here I am running between desks!”

The people standing near me push their papers slowly towards him hoping to wheedle their way to the front of the line. One person is seeking information on how to expedite his gas connection, yet another is hopeful for an agricultural loan while a third is trying to open a savings account for her maid. The hapless manager swivels his chair and his head in sync, as he tries hard to attend to everyone's needs.

My husband who had cancelled his meetings for the morning is by now shuffling his feet. I too have a ton of work waiting for me at home. That doesn't seem so daunting as having to face the firing squad from my agitated spouse on our return home. “You could have done this all by yourself!” I could already hear my husband ranting and raving. Meanwhile I could have sworn I felt my nails growing while waiting for some action on the manager's part.

Two hours later our job did get done. In his hurry to make his afternoon meetings, my husband had no time to vent his spleen. I was still fuming and called my mom to get things off my chest. She reminded me of a similar experience my father had gone through. Only two decades ago! “A matter that shouldn't have taken more than an hour got extended to three hours,” I recall my father sharing. My then sixty year-old dad had came home weary from the experience.

Here I am twenty years later going through the same motions. As the French like to say, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" - the more things change, the more they stay the same!

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