Attitude

by Jambulingam
(Bangalore Karnatak India)

I reported for duty in the new unit. I was accommodated in the Unit Guest House temporarily. The guest house was built in the year 1900. The double roofed building with had magnificent glass windows had and wooden floorings. I found an old bath tub made in England, in the bathroom. The ventilators were at a height offifteen feet above the windows. The circular shaped ventilator at the centre of the hall was above more than twenty feet high. It could be opened and closed with the help of cotton rope that was tied to it. The Guest House was used by the British officers as their club in those days. Even after the British officers left, the guest house was kept in apple pie order to accommodate inspecting officers and VIPs visiting the unit.


The outgoing officer handed over the mess and explained the duties that would to be performed by me. I invited my predecessor for dinner at the guest house. After a couple of drinks he briefed me about the civilian employees of the mess. He mentioned about a table waiter. He described him as the a pain in the neck. He advised me to deal with him carefully. It was late in the night we bid eachother goodnight.
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The next day, I went to the mess office. I sent for the waiter. He entered my office with a tea tray. The milk, sugar and tea decoction kept separately. The way he served tea was impressive. I asked him about his whereabouts roots or heritage casually. He told me that he hailed from Madras and his family stayed with his aged parents. I asked him whether he would like to ask for a transfer to one of the units in Madras, so that he could stay with his family. He did not answer my question.

He made a remark about the milk when mixed it into the cup. He told me that the milk had been burnt because of due to over boiling and that that was not the first time the cook was careless. 0nce before he was marked absent for duty and his pay was deducted from his salary. I did not take notice of his remark.

All the same, I asked the cook whether everything was ok. He told me that the milk was slightly over boiled and he added some cardamom to the tea and then he mixed batham powder and served it to the vegetarians. I asked the cadets whether the breakfast was alright. They were happy to get batham milk.

The readers may wonder how a table waiter could have an upper hand. Since he was the senior most waiter, he was detailed to serve tea to the visiting dignitaries at the commandant's office. He came in contact with the commandant more often than I. The commandant used to call him by his name. He could tell tales about the mess to him.

Monthly inspection of the unit doctor had passed without remarks. Even the medical officer advised me to be careful with the waiter. He had told him that the surroundings were always dirty and we had cleaned it for his inspection. I remembered my predecessor's remark that he was a pain in the neck.

***500 word maximum reached***


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