#5 - Trust Your Staff

Trust is an interesting thing to have learned while in Delhi. As I've alluded to before, living in Delhi can afford you some luxuries. For instance, a driver, a maid, home pick-up and delivery of your ironing (press wala). But with each of these people we employ, there is an element of trust. This morning we learned that we can't trust one of our employees.

Last night, Sally and I stayed in and watched a movie. At about 8 in the evening, Sally ran to the ATM to pull out some money for the week and money so that we could pay our maid's salary in the morning. Our maid has been a Godsend for us, and does a great job without even making us aware she is there. She is a vast improvement over our last maid - who quietly stole 200 USD from a locked cabinet over a few days. But I digress.

With the money placed in her wallet, Sally set her purse on the counter in our entry way & we finished the rest of our evening. Around 6:30 am, Sally rose for her morning jog. She left the front door unlocked, while I snoozed for another hour in the bedroom. Eventually, I woke up and joined Sally for coffee in the family room.

She asked, "Did anyone come in while I was on my run? As I returned home, I saw the press walla leaving the apartment and he muttered something about my husband." I assured Sally that I hadn't heard anything - but did notice the newspaper was on the counter in the hallway. Maybe he had just placed it inside the house as he has done before. Thinking nothing of it, Sally and I finished our breakfast & I got ready to leave for work.

"God Dammit!" Sally shouted as I stepped out of the shower. "The maid's Salary money is gone. I think the boy took it." I was sure the boy hadn't taken the money, so I insisted we must have misplaced it last night. The boy has always been so kind and nice, with a smile on his face. He is probably 17, but looks about 15 and is always eager to collect our pressing. Just last week he seemed to have taken a new job, He had showed up at the door with a new uniform from the Dry Cleaners at the local market.

"I'm sure it wasn't him," I told Sally, "He wouldn't come in the house and take money from your purse. Why would he risk his families business over something like that." But Sally was convinced, and I should have been too.

We decided that we would both go over to their stand in the neighborhood and confront him. I felt it was only fair to give him a chance to admit the theft. I didn't want to make a scene, but simply to give him a chance to return the money - no questions asked. With our Driver Dharmender, we drove over to their shop and shared the news with his Father. We suspected his only son of taking money from our house. Without a note of concern, the Father asked us to wait for his son to come home.

Soon the boy returned home and we confronted him. For 20 minutes the boy denied the claim, and seemed appalled that we would accuse him of theft. The discussion never got heated, it was simply a calm discussion between the boy, his family, Dharmender, Sally and I. After the 21st minute, the boy suddenly had a realization.

You see, he said "I did accidentally pick up the 2500 INR. But, realizing I had this money, I returned to your house before coming to my shop. Sir, while you were driving over to my shop to accuse me of stealing, I was returning to your home to return the money."

And so, Dharmender Sally & I climbed back in the car to race home. The boy and his mother mounted his bicycle and cut through the pedestrian gates giving them a speed advantage. By the time Sally, Dharmender & I reached the top of the stairs, the boy had already reached. He gingerly pointed to the fuse box outside our apartment.

There sat 2500 rupees. It was all a simple misunderstanding...

yeah, right.


Kaushik said...

Err... I didnt get it...
Did he steal or not?

shelmes said...

Of course he stole it Kaushik

He just wouldn't admit that it had happened & hand it over to us. Instead he crafted an elaborate story about how he accidentally came into possesion of the 2500 INR which was in Sally's wallet (inside her purse). Then instead of giving us the money, he raced back to our house on his bike to plant the money outside our home on the Inverter box.

It is disappointing as he seems like a nice kid, and the family is very nice.

Swati said...

I am afraid that is a lesson you have to learn - for your home, and outside. Do not rely on another's honesty to protect your possessions. Protect yourselves always - be aware and alert, be friendly but cautious, and do not place temptation in front of the poor.

Glad you got the money back.

Scott said...

The lesson has been learned before. And while it was silly to leave the front door unlocked, you also don't expect people to enter your apartment while you are inside!

Anonymous said...

It was back in the day. Down in the Southern USA, I got ripped off by this Good-Ol-Boy, who sold this poor fresh-off-the-boat Indian student a perfect lemon of a used car, for $ 2500. Turns out that this car had been in a wreck, and had been cosmetically touched up, to fool foolish foreigners like myself.

But the seller assured me that it was a honey of a car, and worth at least $ 4000, and that he was lettin it go for just $ 2500, because, what the hell, I looked like a nice guy.

Within a month, this 'honey' of a car fell apart on me, and this poor Indian student was left holding on to this pile of junk. I had to pay the towing company $ 200, just to have the car towed to the junkyard.

Did I get all upset, bitter and down on all Americans after this incident ? Thankfully, not.

Instead, I bought a used bicycle, and rode all over town on this bicycle.

Hope my story will help you get over your incident, with minimal mental trauma.

khuni daulat said...

sorry about sounding a bit rude. But this is a very typical dilli Herrenvolk evening talk. you are like all other affluents delliwallas, underpaying your servants (2500a month for a maid) but expecting them to be saints who never get tempted. ever realized the vast differences that these people are confronted with everyday. this is no denying the fact that stealing is absolutly wrong

Anonymous said...

In India we are used to staff and understand the wealth gap. It is considered quite cruel to place temptation in front of the poor. So trust them , yes, but also keep your valuables safe. Its a culture thing.

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CurryBadger said...

Even the excuse he made up is an admission of stealing.

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