Browsing through a magazine recently, I came across an advertisement of a famous international airline that had this as its caption “What I loved was the extra effort you took to make me comfortable.” The accompanying picture was that of a passenger enjoying the warm hospitality of the airhostess who brought him all he needed to make his journey a comfortable one. Somewhere else, I read that, in Pretoria, there is a statue erected of President Kruger, South Africa’s Boer leader. At his wife’s request, the sculptor has left the statesman’s top hat hollow, so that it can collect rainwater for the birds. This is true kindness, which manifests itself even when the person is dead.
In a dog-eat-dog world, where you find colleagues and bosses pulling each other apart, trying to do as little as possible whilst dumping the dirty work onto newcomers or subordinates, it is indeed refreshing to encounter a lone lily in the pond, doing his or her duty for the sheer pleasure of pleasing others. There is no ambition to outdo or impress, just a soul simply serving to satisfy. I recall a time when I was in hospital, having given birth to my fifth child -a premature baby boy. After the delivery, I was reeling from the aftermath and there was this nurse who brought me a cup of tea and my favourite jeera buns with a gentle smile of sympathy. I can never forget her face or her name –Maryrose!
For people such as these, there are no perks in salaries, no promotions to the top storey, none to appreciate their work except those who receive their benevolence. A mother once narrated to me this incident. She said, “My son was serving as a waiter in a hotel and he was called repeatedly to one particular table with constant demands. He served them with great patience and, at the end, one of the occupants came up to him, tipped him heavily and told him that he truly appreciated the prompt service. For my son, more than the tip, it was those words that he most treasures.”
Going the extra mile is like adding sugar to a cup of coffee. One can easily drink coffee without sugar; in fact, diabetics are forced to do so for health reasons. But diabetics will tell you how miserable they feel to have to adapt to this kind of change. There is no joy in drinking that cup: they will readily embrace sugar-free versions. So too when we meet a person who is happy to serve us with a smile and who is working for our welfare, not hers or his, it makes us feel blessed and automatically, we want to bless that person either through words or deeds. It takes a selfish person not to respond to kindness with kindness.
Speaking of kindness, one of the outstanding poll personalities that fits the bill of going the extra mile, whether it’s via his campaign jaunts on cycle or his magnificent manifesto on kindness is worthy of our vote for the simple reason that he has blessed us with his courage under fire. He has proven beyond doubt that his is not a personal or political propaganda. He, like the God he serves, has the people in mind. “Cast your burdens upon me, take my yoke” seems to be his clarion call and his promises ring true. Will Goa go the extra mile with him? That would indeed be a huge dollop of sugar in our collective coffee!