Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stone cold

I'd like to relate a short story ..

I was attending the counter downstairs a few weeks ago when an elderly Indian man walked into the shop with his wife. He had a bag by his hips - a sign of renal failure. They wanted to collect their son's stage photos from a convocation two years ago. I referred them to the office upstairs where all the pictures were kept.

"Do you have a lift?" he asked. I was quite surprised that he inquired, but I understood that he would have a lot of trouble going up four flights of stairs to the office. He wasn't very impressed when I mentioned that we didn't have a lift, but he walked upstairs anyway with the aid of his wife.

Much much later..

He came down looking very exhausted. The secretary couldn't find the photos upstairs and referred them to the counter again.

I started to pay more attention to their story. Two years ago right after their son's convocation, this gentleman did come over to collect the stage photos. But at that time, because of his kidney complications, he did not have enough money to pay the fees for the stage photos which were priced around RM 100. One of the staff actually did show the photos to him and was on the verge of completing the transaction. But alas, the money was the issue, and the photos were taken upstairs again, eventually to be misplaced in our eternally messy store room.

I wonder how the man has only decided to collect the photos two years later. I guess a lot has happened in their lives in those years, and life hasn't been kind to them.

They supplied all the details of their son - his full name, course, date of convocation, etc. But it was too late. The files have been wiped out from our computer servers, never to be recovered again. No back up DVD copies were made apparently.

The man and his wife sighed heavily. They did request that if we 'miraculously' found their son's photos again, that we contact them again. I doubt we will.

Reflecting upon the policies of our company right now, money rules. No money no talk, as they say. All receipts must be checked for any funds owing, and the more add ons, the more money is collected. Every single dollar counts.

Are we so heartless to deny a simple family the right to collect their own son's photos? They've been unfortunately afflicted by health issues, and the financial burden must be very great. I guess if my employer was sympathetic to their plight, he would have surely just let them take the photos, no strings attached.

Graduating is a one-in-a-lifetime experience. Other than keeping your certificate, one of the other things that you'd treasure greatly is having some photos to remember. The costs of photos are insignificant (hence thats why folks are willing to fork out more money for them), it's the sentimental value that counts.

I didn't feel much when the couple went out from the shop, but after reflecting upon it, I feel very sorry for them. They definitely appear love their son very much, and having some pictures of the event will surely make their joy more complete in the midst of life's challenges, especially for the gentleman.

Is money more important than everything else in life? How many people will we send away with their heads hung low? Where is our conscience?

1 Comment:

robin said...

Wow, my uni (UWA) actually gave out a printed 4R sized stage photograph for free to all graduates. Larger print would be charged of course.

I never understood why they did that, now hearing your story, I guess my uni must have encountered the similar issue before.


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