When it comes to money, perspective is all important. To some, it can be a means to purchase the world, and to others, it may mean the world. I think that eventually it comes down to two things – value and attitude. Today I would like to share a couple of experiences I’ve had recently involving the same perspective. Unrelated as they may be, you would observe that the person involved in each incident asked a question to justify the expenditure, but it was their social background and the situation in which they asked the question that made me view both these persons very differently.
Me and a friend of mine went to see Toy Story 3 at the Inox multiplex theater here in Pune last month. The movie was in 3D, so before entering the sitting area everyone had to rent one of those special 3D goggles for Rs. 200 each, an amount that was refundable once you returned the goggles to the staff at the end of the movie. Now, I don’t know whether this practice (to charge a rent for the goggles) is followed in other countries too, but maybe they’ve had some experiences with people pocketing the goggles for themselves at the end of the movie so they’ve come out with the idea of a deterrent. Well, whatever, since I had been to other 3D movies before and knew that I was going to get the money back, it really didn’t bother me. I paid the rent, picked up two goggles and started walking away. Behind me there was a man, who seemed well-heeled, and a bunch of about four children with him who were happy with the prospect of the special Sunday treat. When the theater staff told him that he would be required to shell out Rs. 200 per goggle as rent, he became hysterical. He started arguing that they should be given free of cost, and that even if a rent was necessary, that amount was “too much”. The profits that the multiplex theaters make should allow for such conveniences.
Now, you didn’t need to be Einstein to figure out that this person, per month, minted an amount many, many, many times the money that he was being asked to pay. I do not wish to be envious or over-critical of his social stature or his financial condition, he might have rightfully earned it, but the fact remains that that amount was as good as peanuts for him, and that he wasn’t as thrifty as he was acting to be. Yet, he was extremely hesitant about parting with it for a couple of hours at most, blaming in turn the rules of the multiplex theater. Isn’t this a matter of attitude? Now you might say that such rules prohibit the less fortunate people from watching movies, and that this person was raising a voice against it. Okay, so, would this man have sponsored an entire ticket for a less fortunate individual? Anyways, there are more appropriate places where one can argue about these practices, the faces of helpless ‘going-by-the-book’ staff is certainly not one of them. What bothered me more was the thought whether he would follow the same frugal attitude while paying the salaries (and perhaps a promised monetary bonus) to one of his employees back at the office. How often have we heard stories of industry professionals being made to do death marches, literally, for a proposed raise come appraisal time?
Well, finally he did pay the amount, groaning, and at the end of the movie saw to it that he was payed back the sum.
I went to a local sweet shop this evening to purchase a box of my favorite sweets and a few Samosas (a popular Indian snacks delicacy) for the family. There came a lady, probably in her early 50’s and who seemed to be belonging to a family which could just about manage two meals a day for everyone in the household after doing away with house rent and other such expenditures. She enquired the cost of a Kachori. The shopkeeper said that they were Rs. 10 a piece. The look of disappointment on her face said it all. Mom, who was with me pitched in and asked her if she could buy her a Kachori since she sincerely wished to have it. She politely refused, even after repeated offers. Perhaps she wanted to purchase not just one but a few for her children back home, and could never bear the ignominy of having one for herself before feeding them. Maybe she had promised them the Kachoris as a reward for something. She finally settled for Dhokla, which were much cheaper than the Kachoris, and maybe because she could get more pieces of the Dhokla at the price of one piece of the Kachori.
I wonder what strife must have taken place in the woman’s mind when she was considering whether to accept mom’s offer or go for the Dhokla. It is at times like these that you feel you should be gifted with magical powers or one of those Harry Potter wands so that you could secretly fill the woman’s purse with money required to fulfill her wish, and she would not have to feel even slightly embarrassed by being offered monetary assistance by a stranger.
Consequentially, the sweets and the Samosas we brought home today were put into perspective.