Many years back while in business for my father, an interior designer, we would get a contract for the home of the managing director of some big company. Now in all probability I had already visited him in his office and seen him as a powerful person, but at home, he was oh so different. But as I remembered those episodes, I wonder what the thoughts of that same powerful man are when he opens the door and sees a carpenter or plumber or painter, someone who has seen him in a totally different environment?
‘The doorbell rings, I open the door, and there’s the plumber I’d called yesterday. He gasps in surprise; yesterday when he’d seen me at my office, he had seen me behind a mahogany desk, in the fanciest of offices, with a secretary sitting outside, who had made him wait awhile before she let him in. He had seen me as a busy man, and a powerful one at that. As he spoke with me, he had stuttered and stammered, completely out of place in the magnificent surroundings. He had nodded while I told him about the plumbing job at home, and I wondered whether he had heard anything.
‘Have a cup of tea!’ I had told him, but he had mumbled something about being late for another appointment, which I knew was a lie, and he had rushed away. He was too embarrassed to sit on the fancy couch in my office, for that matter he even stood as he spoke to me.
But now as he looks at me, at the open door, there is a smile on his face. “Is it the same man?” you wonder, even as you realize you are still wearing the creased and crumbled dhoti you had worn through the night. The vest on your chest, isn’t much better. The plumber saunters in, at ease with himself and with you. You are a tad irritated with his light manner of the way he treats you, but soon understand, that this easy manner seems to working as he understands your plumbing problem and explains how easy it is to repair the same.
You smile, happy you have someone who understands. He smiles too and gets on with his job.
I wonder what had changed from yesterday to today? And then look down at crumbled dhoti, creased vest and in the mirror, see my disheveled hair and unshaved face, and then I understand. In my vulnerability he was comfortable. When no tailored suit separated him from me, communication was man to man.
The plumbing job was good, vulnerability had won.. !’
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