The 'lift' operator

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
One of the most mundane jobs in India, this is a story of a 'lift operator' !

Submitted: September 05, 2016

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Submitted: September 05, 2016



While formatting post-Independence corporate and bureaucratic world, I wonder if someone really think of some interesting job positions or did they happen by default?

Some of the corporate and Government payrolls have positions like “parking ticket operator!” and “lift operator!” When these articles remained ‘manual’ in nature where the parking lot guy had to issue a ‘token’ or when the lift (elevator) moves with a person recharging a dynamo for it to move – it indeed required manual presence. The shining India we live in continue to keep these job positions in today’s super-easy, no-brainer automated versions, for good or fair reasons.

My job involves meeting ‘decision makers’ in key offices. I visit people in ‘high’ (by importance and elevation) offices, accessible by elevators. So naturally, I encounter ‘lift operators’. This particular day I was visiting a nouveau riche government office in central Bengaluru. Hailing one of the two ‘working’ elevators (the second one is used only when it gets busy apparently :-) ), I was greeted with a bright smile by this gentleman who welcomed me in. You really don’t think much of him (who you are going to spend time with for less than few seconds) before you proceed to your meeting. I did notice that he was reading hanuman chaalisa in a loud tone. I thanked him when the elevator reached my desired floor and went ahead with my meeting.

My meeting lasted close to an hour and I was back soon to hail the elevator to reach back the mezzanine parking area. This time I had lesser thoughts in mind as the meeting agenda was achieved and had more free thinking space! The gentleman operating the lift had finished his sloka rendering and sitting with what looked like a peaceful, pleasant moment. His shirt pocket had about 3 or 4 small sloka books stuffed into the small space. My curiosity prevailed and I asked him “how many do you read”. He said all of it and about 3 to 4 times a day. He said “I have nothing else to do” sitting in this elevator car. He was impeccably groomed with neatly ironed tucked-in shirt and a formal trouser paired with closed shoes.  His gold-varnished watch strap matched his gold-rimmed spectacles. He had sacred ash neatly layered on his forehead. He had a certain what we call in Sanskrit as thejas – a pleasing glow on his face!

What an impact he left on me! We have all seen these life operators in malls and other public places. If ever we have the mind-space to think about them during or after the ‘ride’, it would be of anguish (if he was rude), dis-interested (if he had zero apathy) or pity (if he looks gloomy). And here is a man who spends his work life in a 12x4 elevator car for about 8 hours a day - displaying high dignity, enthusiasm and such a lasting impression several hours after I meet him motivating me to write this story.

Talk about ‘good & nice places to work’ surveys and their results giving us ‘a plan’ charted out to keep our team members motivated at work. This gentleman (I am so ashamed I didn’t ask his name) teaches one a lot. And hope we all learn.


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