It was a firsthand experience for me of how corporate culture flows from top to the very bottom of the organization structure, how the person in the lowest rung of the organization hierarchy is the best evidence of the policies an organization sets and the values it upholds.
It was one of those regular pleasant rituals of weekend shopping. After finishing my shopping at the mall, on my way back I stopped at a filling station to refill petrol in my car. As the fuel meter started rolling, I reached for my wallet in the trouser back pocket. I got a jolt on realizing that the pocket was empty, there was no wallet. I checked my other pockets, still no wallet.
I got down from the car in desperation, checked under the car seats, but no sign of my wallet. I checked the car boot, searched through the shopping bags one by one, still no sign of my wallet. As I checked my pockets again, I felt a rustle of paper in one of my side pockets. There was some currency along with the bill I had settled at the shopping mall. I sensed a momentary relief at being saved from the embarrassment of facing the fuel station attendant with no cash or card to pay for the fuel.
I was still dazed and reeling from the shock of not finding my wallet. It was not just the cash I was worried about. All my important stuff were in the wallet, my driving license, credit card, debit cards, more importantly, my residence card (work permit). I knew very well what happens to expatriates who are by bad luck caught without legal documents in an alien land.
I quickly paid up for the fuel and started driving back to the shopping mall, analyzing the situation. If there was cash in my pocket along with the bill, I did take out my wallet for settling the bill. Then the only explanation for the missing wallet was, either I left it at the cash counter while putting the shopping items into the shopping bags or I might have placed it in the shopping cart while loading the shopping bags into the car boot.
As I reached the mall, I found the parking lot where I had parked my car earlier and looked for the shopping cart. There were a couple of carts, but I did not find my wallet in any of them. I quickly rushed to the cash counter where I had earlier settled the bill. The cashier was busy billing a customer. The uniformed mall porter was busy putting stuff into shopping bags. He looked at my flushed face and with a smile said "You must be looking for your wallet. Please contact customer service". I felt a sense of relief run through the whole of my body. I felt like a drowning person who had been thrown a life line. I said a thanks but only a mumble came out of my mouth as it was dry with the shock that I had endured.
I rushed to the customer service counter and I started mumbling "I lost my wallet...". Even before I could finish the sentence, the customer service staff asked me for my name. As I mentioned my name, he took out my wallet from under the counter, took out my residence card, verified my name and my picture, and returned my wallet to me. That is all it took, for the entire grueling, nerve racking episode to culminate into an unbelievable relief.
I put the wallet into my pocket, and as I walked towards my car, thanking my stars, cursing my carelessness, I saw the same porter collecting empty shopping carts from the parking lot. With the same jolly smile on his face, he asked me if I got my wallet back. I said "Yes, I got it back. Actually I was quite worried wondering if I had left it in the shopping cart". I was in an elated, thankful, and generous mood. So I took out some cash from my wallet to give it to the porter. He refused to take it.
What he said next really bowled me over "Not only in the shopping cart, wherever a you lose your personal belonging within the complex of the mall, you will get it back. This is the policy of our mall. Our bosses remind us again and again that we have our jobs because of customers like you. Even if one customer stops coming to the mall due to such reason as losing their personal belonging, it is not good for the business. We make sure such a thing doesn't happen".
I was amazed, stunned beyond words, listening to the simple, humble porter. He was a true reflection of the culture of his organization. Yes, the policies the top management makes trickles down to every worker to the very last rung of organizational hierarchy.
I had experienced this wonderful display of corporate culture, the business ethics, at Ruwi branch of Lulu Hyper Market in Oman.
Now, I keep wondering if such a thing was possible in India too! Would I have got back my wallet intact!! I really wonder!!!