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Lesson from Real Life: Empathy from a Vegetable Seller

Lesson from Real Life: Empathy from a Vegetable Seller

With everything that’s been happening around, we’re privileged to have access to the sort of technology that helps us stay abreast with advancements in the world. The internet has been empowering us with almost all kinds of messages — positive, negative, anti-racist or even gender neutral. And that’s the latest form of education one can imagine.

But for a lot of people who’re deprived of basic necessities like the internet, how exactly do they get their dose of daily information from? My sense is, it’s perhaps rooted partially in their upbringing and the rest is taken care by hearsay.

One such experience with a more grounded and humble man happened with me, that almost shook me to my nerves. Just a few days back I came across a young dynamic individual who taught me a lesson for life.

On a usual sunny morning, I was standing in a queue to purchase groceries, maintaining the arm’s length that one has to follow during the lockdown. Just then a boy, perhaps someone who’s just completing his education approached me and requested “Sir I have onions and potatoes to sell which are sourced straight from our family farm. Would you be interested in buying them”?

I trusted my gut and instantly agreed. His demeanour was believable and his sense of conversation was very respectful. I didn’t have much against my gut. I told him the required quantity and handed over my bag to him. He quickly sanitised his hands before collecting the bag from me and then packed the required quantity and handed over the bag back while I was still waiting in the queue. My overall experience was good. He then asked my contact details for future orders.

When I reached home I shared this experience with my family. They approved the quality of the vegetables and found the rates very reasonable. Soon I received a text from him for my next order. He was also ready to act as an aggregator. I placed the next order and my experience equally good as the first one. Then he asked for my help to give him more references for selling vegetables. I instantly referred him in my network and it clicked.

But just then, a few days later, I received a text from him to inform his inability to deliver vegetables for subsequent few weeks.

Out of concern, I asked him what had happened? He said “one of my mother’s friend’s family is detected with COVID. Though we don’t have any direct contact with them, as responsible citizens we have decided to quarantine ourselves for the next 15 days.”

Incredible right? The sheer purity of that thought was what had me ponder so hard. He had informed of his family background when we had exchanged numbers. He was a civil engineering diploma holder while his parents sold vegetables on the street.. As he had lost his job during the pandemic he decided to support his parents for a living by going out on the streets and selling vegetables. He was extremely thankful for the timely support he received from us.Indeed this was his only means for survival during the lockdown. I’d find it tough to even articulate how many lessons this one man had taught me.

He was never in formal business but he knew that customer experience starts from the very first conversation. He knew how to hold a conversation, evoke a sense of trust and be able to sustain that through the course of his interactions too.

He maintained clear and honest communication, right till the end even when his business was in jeopardy. His ethics were commendable for me. A trait that one rarely experiences in daily life.

His agility and flexibility during this whole time was noteworthy. He was able to harness the goodwill from one of his satisfied customers to get more business.

And lastly, I found him to be extremely generous and with high amounts of gratitude towards life. It’s when life throws you off track that your gratitude is put to it’s highest level of test.

I had nothing more than respect and awe for him through his act throughout. And hence I thought that he was worth a conversation.

Article by Vinit Dungarwal, Director at AMs Project Consultants Pvt. Ltd. Check his LinkedIn Profile on https://www.linkedin.com/in/vinitdungarwal/

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