A few days back, a family friend was complaining about how a particular member of the housekeeping staff in her apartment complex ‘requests’ for a tip every time she sees gift-wrapping paper in the garbage!
Why did our friend give a tip whenever asked for? This housekeeping staff member’s responsibilities include collecting the garbage bags kept outside each apartment every morning. If there is no garbage bag outside any apartment, she rings the doorbell and asks the occupant to hand over the garbage bag. She is not obliged to do this. Our friend was afraid that, if the housekeeping staff member was unhappy with her, she would not ring her doorbell whenever she forgot to keep her garbage bag outside her door, which happens quite frequently.
Strangely, our friend’s cousin living in the same apartment complex also forgets to keep her garbage bag outside her door quite often, but the same housekeeping staff member has never asked her for tips.
Why this difference?
The maintenance and housekeeping of the apartment complex is done by a contractor. The housekeeping staff member is an employee of this contractor. She is not supposed to do any work other than that assigned to her by her employer. The residents are not supposed to get any personal work done by the contractor’s employees. The residents are also not supposed to make any kind of payments to the contractor’s employees.
One day, when our friend’s part-time domestic help had not turned up for work, our friend had asked the housekeeping staff member to wash her vessels. When the housekeeping staff member politely pointed out that she was not allowed to do such work, our friend suggested that she could do it during her lunch break. She offered to pay Rs. 50. The housekeeping staff member jumped at this opportunity to make some extra money! Soon, this became a regular feature. To ensure the housekeeping staff member’s ‘loyalty’, our friend started tipping her during festivals, and paying her larger amounts whenever she helped to clean and decorate the house before a birthday party or clean up after the party.
One day, the contractor realised what was happening, and warned his employee that she would lose her job if this was not stopped immediately. She stopped doing any work at our friend’s house. However, by now, she had got used to the extra money. Hence, whenever she saw gift-wrapping paper in our friend’s garbage bag, she would request our friend for a tip! Our friend claims that, when she did not tip on a couple of occasions, she experienced the ‘non-cooperation’ described earlier. Hence, she would give a tip whenever asked for.
Our friend had become a victim of the ‘corruption’ which she had herself created! No politician, bureaucrat or policeman was involved. This was corruption of the people, by the people, for the people!
I reiterate what I had stated in my post ‘Can we eradicate corruption? Yes We Can!’: many people believe that the nation will undergo a transformation the moment Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister in 2014. Many others believe that will happen the moment Rahul Gandhi becomes PM. Many, many others believe that will happen the moment Aam Aadmi Party comes to power. Frankly, all are living in fools’ paradise. The government and the PM do have an important role to play, but any transformation in our nation is possible only if we, the people of India, change for the better.