By Kamlesh Tripathi
NO ONE KNOWS—WHO HELPS WHOM
At an era, when there used to be long queues for domestic flights in India. My boss, who had once come visiting me. Got a sudden call from the HR Head. Asking him, to report back immediately for an urgent and important meeting at Head Office.
As luck would have it. There was no chance of getting a confirmed flight ticket before three days, as it was all jam packed. Therefore, there was every likelihood. That he would have missed the important meeting. So, we decided to take a chance at the airport. Those days nothing was computerized. Personal relations with airport staff and their whims and fancies mattered a lot. Therefore, he was carrying an open ticket. And in the middle of all the din and rush. The counter clerk had asked us to wait. Just in case of a last moment cancellation or a no show.
We were waiting patiently. When, I saw the captain of the aircraft hovering near the check-in counter puffing a cigarette. Those days we didn’t have smoking zones like today.
Suddenly, the counter clerk called for my boss, ‘Mr Datta.’ We quickly walked up to him. When he politely said, ‘Sorry Datta sahab. There is just no seat as the flight is absolutely full. Please take a chance tomorrow morning.’
I pleaded, citing the urgent meeting. As I could see the tension rising on my boss’s face. Is when the captain of the aircraft. Who was standing close to the counter walked up and said to the counter clerk. ‘Please issue him a boarding pass. Only, if he has cabin baggage. I will take him in the cockpit, since he has an urgent meeting.’
With that I guess Mr Datta’s day was made. When he happily said to me, ‘bye, and see you soon.’
After a month. I happened to be in the Head Office, on a visit. When I congratulated him on his well deserved promotion and casually asked about the flight that day. He remembered the captain in a pleasant way and this was what he had to say.
‘Arrey, I was extremely lucky. That the captain took me along with him, in the cockpit that day. Otherwise, I would have missed my appraisal meeting with the Marketing Director. But as the flight took off. The captain asked in Bengali,
“Kaimon achain, Dutto babu. Apni comfortable?”
And, before he could load on some more Bengali. I promptly replied, ‘sorry captain I am a Punjabi Datta. Not a Bengali Dutto.’
‘Oh-oh-oh sorry. But, I thought. I heard the counter clerk calling you as Mr Dutto and not Mr Datta. Anyways, sorry, sorry, very sorry, once again.’
By then the flight was more than airborne. After that we didn’t have any exchange of conversation in the flight. Though, on landing. I said goodbye to him. To which he didn’t respond warmly. But in his own subtle way he had ensured my promotion.
In life. You just don’t know who lends you a helping hand where, and who comes to your rescue.