Monday, May 16, 2011

Minding one's business.........

I often wonder why a person is good or bad. I mean the good ones really unnerve me. They see goodness in all things unlike normal people like me who rave and rant on issues that do not in any way affect them. Did I call myself normal? There are several people who beg to differ. An incident that took place long back comes to my mind.

It was almost 12 or 13 years back that a girl known to me joined our college as an assistant having got the job on compassionate grounds. The VC had been pleased to appoint her and she was to join immediately. Around the time several of our colleagues were working on ad hoc basis and were expecting their services to be regularized. They felt that the appointment of people on compassionate grounds posed a threat to the process of regularization of their services and opposed her joining. I tried to reason that the two issues were different and the vice chancellor’s order had to be obeyed. The VC may take their protests to mean dissidence and terminate their services instead of regularizing it. The very colleagues who had worked with me for nearly 16 years turned against me and interpreted my stand as my interest in seeing the girl, who was known to me, join our college. Sensing antagonism my colleagues tried to take me away from the scene. I stood right there trying to reason with the group. I then had an experience of dealing with mob frenzy and it was not very pleasant. At the end of the day my blood pressure soared and I was on medical leave for the next 15 days.

Till today my well wishers recount the incidence and say that there was no reason for me to have gotten worked up. It was not my service that was at stake and it was not me that was protesting. Why then did I have to worry about a bunch of ad hoc employees who were being fooled into believing that the appointment of one person on compassionate grounds would affect their being regularized? It was an issue between them and the vice chancellor and I was nowhere in the picture. It was enough to have to worry about one’s family and children. Did the group for whom I allowed my blood pressure to soar even acknowledge that I was truly worried about them?

While I get disturbed at the thought of my colleagues misunderstanding my intention, my friends think otherwise. They reason that with time the group did understand that they were wrong. The girl, whose appointment they opposed, did join on the very day and it was only 5 years later that services of the group of ad hoc employees got regularized. And above all I learnt a valuable lesson – to set my limits and never to take health risks. These days I try – remember that I only try – not to overdo anything. I have my friends to pinch me hard when I try to play the moderator and to advice me to allow people to learn for themselves.

I do wonder if I was wrong in trying to reason with a group of frustrated employees or if they were better off left to themselves. Like many other questions this question has either no correct answer or more than one correct option.


Anonymous said...


Your tale reminds me of a real-life incident in Chennai.

A distant relative of mine, a man in his late 20's was travelling in a public bus. This took place in the 70's. Two fisher-women in the bus were fighting and arguing loudly. This man tried to stop their quarrellings. The women who till then were beating each other, pushed this man and he died instantly, leaving behind his young wife and two young children. One of his children was barely a few months old.

It is better not to stand up for someone risking our own lives. At the end of the day, it is not worth the effort.


In school, the sisters encouraged us to mind our own business, by writing MYOB on the blackboard, everyday! Yes..I think we all learn it the hard mind our own business.

Poornima said...

Ah, but its this MYOB-business that allows us to leave an accident victim bleeding on the road instead of rushing him to the hospital! & then all of us would have plenty to say about THAT! No?

We desperately need the good samaritans in society...DONT mind your own business I say!! :-)

dr.antony said...

After all,in social life,all businesses end up as ours.Or,we get invlolved.
If we are human and sensitive,we have the right to respond to what happens around us.And why bother about others?

I had written about the rape of a Malayali girl in a train.All the while she was being harassed,there were " gentlemen" sitting around,minding their own business!

Hip Grandma said...

anon:that was a sad and undeserved punishment for trying to resolve a quarrel. My father in law also tried mediating between two quarrelsome children having fist fights and the mother of the more aggressive child yelled and screamed at our doorstep as if he had hit the child hard. i suppose it would have been sensible to allow them to get hurt.

KADMANIVASI:I am however a poor learner and constantly remind myself that 'this is the limit' or 'this far no further'. but there are times when I find it difficult to remain indifferent.

Poornima:This MYOB is a safe option in this world where it takes just a minute for people to switch loyalties as it happened in my case. It still hurts me deep down in my heart. Try as much as I may, I am not the same towards the group that did not hesitate to call me names and behaved as if it was me who came between them and their regularization. The bitterness remains like a scar.

dr. antony:What you say is unfortunately true. A friend recalls an incident that took place when she was traveling to Patna. It seems a teen aged girl was dragged by 2 men. The girl was screaming like an animal and the men took her outside the AC compartment. She could hear her screaming but could not muster courage to interfere. She strongly suspects that the girl was molested and raped but none in the compartment dared to intervene. After sometime all was quiet. The girl was probably thrown out of the train at the next stop. I sometimes wonder with all this talk about standing up for the underdog what would I have done under the circumstance. I am afraid the honest answer that my head/heart gives is not to my liking and I feel lousy.


Appreciate your thoughts. But in specific cases mentioned by Poornima, Dr. Antony and Hip Grandma, it is FEAR which stops us, fear of persecution and fear of retribution. Many of us wish to do something when caught in such situations. The truth is we do not want to compromise on the safety of our family, and in my view, in such specific cases, there is really no question of minding our own business.

R's Mom said...

I am like you HHG! and I often end up repenting for NOT minding my own business..of course in your case the incident did hurt you medically and it shouldnt have gone to that extent..but otherwise, if I were in your situation, I would have done the same a days after 7 years of work ex, I think I am more professional in my approach, both workwise and non work wise, but still I do get affected!

AA_Mom said...

I am like you as well, but have learnt that as long as the issue is about sharp tongues and rude jabs, I think MYOB is OK.

The line my husband uses is "Woh uski taang kheech raha hai to tum kyon phisal rahe ho" :)

dipali said...

Such a difficult thing to do, knowing where to draw the line, and where minding your own business becomes negligence:(
I guess each incident has to be resolved case by case!

Hip Grandma said...

KADMANIVASI:I think that specific cases have to be dealt with according to the demand of the situation using one's discretionary power. Each case is different.

R's mom:Do you know that for people like us remaining indifferent is next to impossible. However, I have also learnt to keep my words of concern and caution limited to those who I feel are worth advising. One cannot take responsibility for every one.

AA Mom:First time here?Welcome. We all have to decide when and where to draw the line. Like greasing palms to get favors. I am against it but if I try to advise people I may not have many takers. Several see it as the easy way out.

dipali;you are very two cases are similar.