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  • Writer's pictureL.J. Singh


Nineteenth-century well-known writer Nathaniel Hawthorne in his 'David Swan' story has written,
'We can be but partially acquainted even with the events which actually influence our course through life and our final destiny.'

In our life, every experience, incident, or anecdote teaches us something. One such anecdote left a long-lasting impression on my own being.

A real-life Anecdote is given as under.


Our ship was on India-Far East-Pacific-USA voyage, and our first loading port of call, after Calcutta and bunkering in Singapore was a Taiwanese port called Keelung, in the China Sea. While on a walk in the city I found quite a hustle-bustle outside a departmental store. The banners and loud announcements were in the local language but it was quite obvious that some sort of special sale activity was going on. I went into the store to browse around and picked up some titbit items. I stood in a long queue leading to the payment counter. All the time there some announcement, in a local language, was being made on the store's PA system and some frantic activities in the other long queues were also evident. While I was nearing the payment counter, a person ahead of me left his shopping trolley just for a moment, to pick up another item from a nearby shelf, I don't know what came over me and why I acted impulsively to 'jump the queue' and took his place in the payment queue.

When my turn came, I paid my bill, picked up the carry bag of my purchases, and moved towards the exit of the store, there was quite a commotion and clapping behind me. The person, whose place in the queue, I had sort of 'commandeered' moments back, was being greeted with handshakes and back thumpings. He had won some lucky draw, among the purchasers' queue, which won him a gift hamper. When the fact dawned upon me, that had I not foolishly jumped the queue and replaced the person ahead who had just won the lucky draw, I would have won the draw, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It did not cheer me much when the lucky gentleman thanked me, probably for my foolhardy, though benevolent to him, act. It kept haunting me whenever I went shopping in any store but it did teach me a good lesson in the virtue of 'keep patience, it may pay. I always waited for my turn in the queue I had to stand.

Many years later, just near the fag-end of my service, I got a sort of rewarded feelings to get over my unpleasant experience in the far east Taiwan store. This new episode with me took place on the other side of the globe, in the far west pacific port called Long Beach near Los Angles, USA. We had a long stay in this port, so as usual, I went to the downtown area of Long Beach for browsing around the many stores in the city. There I went into a supermarket for some snacks, after which I took browsing round in the store. When I was thinking of calling a day for shopping and returning to ship I picked up a large jar of TANG an Orange flavour cold drink powder. There was a long queue leading to the payment counter, which I also joined. When my turn came to present my purchase at the counter, a buxomed lady with her purchased merchandise in the trolley just pushed me aside and took my turn to pay. She probably noticed my single item as her justification to take my place in the queue. But this uncharitable act of the lady was not missed by the young salesgirl at the payment counter who cast a disdainful look at the haughty customer. After a long list of her purchases was paid for, the lady departed lugging her umpteen carry bags. I handed over my single item of purchase to the salesgirl at the payment counter, she just wrapped, put the jar in a small carry bag, and handed it over to me without payment.

When I opened my wallet to pay she just smiled and declined any payment for my purchase saying 'Sir, I have already charged that lady for your single item in her bill as a penalty and lesson for her boorish behaviour and a small reward for your patience. This gesture of her was quite a good compensation for the feelings of my old guilt of 'jumping the queue' unpardonable act, very many years back, at the Taiwanese port of Keelung.

Written By-

L.J. Singh

Retd. Chief Engineer (IMM)

Best Books To Read-

Into the Heart of the Himalayas written by jono lineen
The Shooting Star: A Girl, Her Backpack and the World written by Shivya Nath

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