Julian was still young and inexperienced, and events of late had left him breathless. It hadn’t been long since he’d been transferred to this unfamiliar land with a culture he was desperately striving to understand. In some ways it was all rather exciting but his recent appointment was something he’d never have dreamed of pursuing, and an escalating apprehension gripped him. What if his performance was not to his corporate expectations, and how would he handle work and travel among people whose customs and language he still didn’t understand?
Mumbai was a rather awe inspiring place to be assigned to. Lingering relics of times past testified to a day long ago when it was called the Jewel of the East.* Now it was just another overpopulated city with resources strained to the limit to accommodate human waves constantly descending on it in the hope of a better life.
He’d promised that if his employers allowed him to use a room for his hired house help on the corporate residential compound, he’d be responsible for their behavior, and now he was embarrassed.
The lady was bringing undesirable elements onto the compound, and residents were upset. He’d so much wanted to make a success of his cultural adaptation, but was now faced with confrontation on all sides. The lady refused to move from the assigned quarters when he terminated her employment and with the aid of some of her unsavory friends squatted in the quarters in an act of defiance.
Now these undesirable elements began to threaten the people on the residential compound, and Julian, wishing to establish his authority threatened to call in the police. His pride was at stake.
Then a great thought came to him. Why not lock the lady out of the quarters? While she was out on the town with her friends he placed his own stronger lock over her own. She was effectively locked out now, but her personal belongings remained inside. When she returned home all hell broke loose.
The police did come, but it was Julian who was to be in trouble. Wishing to respect a newcomer to their country the police reasoned with Julian and requested him to remove the lock. There were legal ways to address the problem they said, and the courts should consider such matters. They pointed out the illegality of what he’d done in denying someone legitimate access to home and belongings, but pride caused Julian to be stubborn and he refused to remove the lock. What would his employers think of him if he couldn’t even handle the hired help? What would happen to him now he’d refused that polite request?
Fortunately the corporation heard of the brewing trouble and sent in national workers who knew how to settle expatriate indiscretions. They had long experience dealing with expatriates who’d worked with them over the years, and being sons of the soil knew just the right approach to motivate the police to mercy. They should have been consulted in the first place!
It all worked out for the best after this intervention on Julian’s behalf. A compromise was reached and the lock removed. The police moved the troublesome lady out of the residential compound and issued a stern warning to unruly elements.
Julian breathed a sigh of relief when he thought over his precipitous actions and was glad for experienced counselors provided to save a young expatriate from serious consequences. He’d learned a valuable lesson. It’s always wise to consult before acting in any circumstance and he followed that advice for the rest of his working life.
In hindsight Julian had to ruefully admit, “Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice and become wise.” (TLB Proverbs 13:10)
“© copyright Ian Grice 2015 All rights reserved”
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