Read the face behind the mask

I have benefited immensely in life by my strict morals of honesty and uprightness, but sometimes my naivety caused losses to me. At the start of my business career, I was just a teen and had the gullible habit of believing in everyone. I remember an incident in my youth when I realised that some people wear emotional masks on their real faces. I was in junior college then. After college was over for the day, I used to sell phenyl bottles door-to-door in the suburbs of Mumbai. People were not so friendly and did not want to entertain an unknown salesman like me. Many people would scold me with harsh words for visiting their home uninvited and spoiling their precious leisure time. Some of them would even slam the door in my face after warning me not to come again. But all the experiences were not bitter. Some people were kind enough to let me in. They really felt sympathy for a teen salesman like me. They would appreciate my hard work and purchase a bottle of phenyl from me.

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 16 Sep 2021, 9:00 AM

Once I visited a house, which belonged to a senior citizen. He welcomed me, purchased a bottle and reminded me to come next month again. He inquired about my family background, education and encouraged me to continue the job with honesty. I liked his kind and inspiring personality and his assuring words. After two visits, one day this person took the bottle as usual but expressed his helplessness to pay for it immediately. He promised to pay the amount the following month. I believed in him and continued to deliver him phenyl bottles for the next six months. Every time he would make an excuse for payment. I would wonder — if a phenyl bottle cost only Rs10, how did a person not have such a small amount in his saving?

Six months passed and the dues became Rs60. It was a considerable amount for me as I was a salesman working on a commission basis. At last, I decided to ask him for the payment. When I visited his house, the person was not there. His wife opened the door. She was also a kind-looking lady. I told her to convey my difficulty to her husband and requested to make the payment as early as possible. The lady looked at me sympathetically, went inside, brought her purse and handed me the money. When I thanked her and was about to leave, she uttered a few but valuable words of advice by saying, “Son, you are young and naive. You should acquire the skill of reading people thoroughly. Don’t visit our house anymore.” I understood the underlying message from her words and stopped selling products on credit after that.

Friends, I confess candidly that I learned the wisdom of reading the faces behind the masks very late. It is better to always stay alert and informed whether it is a business, charity or our life.

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