I am reminded of a series of incidents that happened with me for a period of over two weeks while I was at Nandyal, Andhra Pradesh, India working in a cement manufacturing plant. When I was assigned to come in shifts, I happened to be in a team that was led by a shift-incharge, years my senior (31 years of age at that time, regarded as the go-to person by many in Nandyal plant), who bullied me many times in control room, and while we used to wait at the bus stop. During the starting times when he met me, he used to provoke me quite often, sometimes staring at me for no reason, slightly pushing me, ragging me (by regularly asking me why don’t I drink or smoke, that I am unfit for a plant job, though I must admit I never felt like being ragged) in company of other operators. When these incidents got to my mind and I was at a peak of outburst, I remember anxiously sitting in the plant bus planning my strategy as to how I was going to tackle him today – Should I straightaway warn him? Should I take up this matter with my supervisor (my supervisor was a mature and an able person)? Should I talk to my parents? Should I talk to Biswa (who is one of my close friends, as I was reminded of him)? Should I just act differently so that he sees me not as a person different from others, and so that he is pleased and we don’t bother each other much? or Should I just leave this job? (This all happened for a period of one to three weeks, and was at its peak for one or two days)
I did not take any action against him. But then things started to change. Upon reflection, I realised that I just did these things – I did not change my personality to suit him, I did not pretend to be a different person than who I was then, I stuck to my basics on how to deal with people the way I have had done previously. Because I knew that I was not wrong, and like many things, this too shall pass. I just kept calm and kept faith. One thing that I would like to state at this point is that the bully perhaps does not realises how much of an emotional impact (I remember Biswa calling me over phone and crying!) he can have on his junior colleagues.
Now that same person whom I used to hate the most in the plant became one of my best colleagues in the plant. Perhaps he slowly started to realise that I was not faking (for example- as I don’t drink or smoke, he forced me several times to start drinking (I have realized people do this to make a political statement)). Perhaps I was able to give him a different perspective. He started to joke with me quite often and talk about his son, he started to teach me mill operations from control room, he sent me an FB friend request, he helped me plan my travel to home, he gave me his phone number in case of any help, and many other things. What happened is that his attitude towards me changed. Now as I look back I find it funny that how I used to be so disturbed by this man, as if he was the biggest problem in the plant. I talked to him over phone day-before-yesterday and he invited me to visit Nandyal.
Now things could have turned very differently had I reacted too much during those times, I do not deny this. But I did what I felt was the best I could do at that time. I am happy that this happened to me as it gave me a perspective and taught me lessons.
Now it is very much possible that the person (the bully) may read this account and feel shocked and then go on to give a completely different narrative. That’s the beauty of it, each one of us have a unique experience and perspective on looking at things. Our thinking makes something good or bad, otherwise it is just as it is.