Death of a Salesman

Salesmen typically don’t demonstrate the nuances of Service – they stick to Sales, and leave the servicing to the folks in the Service department. But K was different.

He was kind, patient, knowledgeable, non-pushy, good at his job and, more importantly, made it a point to remind all his customers – multiple times in his interactions – that, no matter how big or small the issue was, they were always welcome in his store, and that periodic service would be free of cost!

Except, it wasn’t his store – he was just an employee there. I’m talking about my neighborhood optician’s store – S Optics. Like any such outlet, its shelves were lined with glasses, frames and marketing material promoting the latest technology in eye-wear. Unlike most such outlets, this was a family business run by an old (Parsi) lady owner who periodically peered at the customers from behind her own bifocals, and occasionally lent a helping hand when multiple folks needed attending to.

I loved going to S Optics, and not just for the quirky posters that one can only expect to see in a Parsi-run establishment, providing much amusement to its patrons. S Optics also offered the ultimate (and rare) combination of a good range, convenient location, knowledgeable staff, and great value.

And truth be told, a huge part of that experience was interacting with K. Whenever the need arose, he was ever-willing to lend you an understanding ear, guide you through the options that best met your needs (and personality!), and coordinate resources for a timely delivery.

That is why it was such a loss to see that my favorite store – and salesman – have been replaced by a big-brand, shiny and sterile Mobile Phones showroom.

When I first found S Optics missing, my hope was that they may have shifted to a nearby location due to rent concerns. So, I took a chance and called K on the mobile number he had given me, and sadly learned that the old lady who owned the place had finally retired. With no one else in the family wanting to take over the reins, she had no choice but to close shop, and sell the outlet to someone else. Thankfully, K had found himself another opticians’ outlet to work in, but it was too far away to be an option for me.

While I’m happy to share that K is very much alive and kicking, his moving away kinda represents the death of the old-school values that were once commonplace and cherished, but which we may never experience again. For me, the closure of S Optics represents the disappearance of the “personal touch”, and the death of high standards in Sales or Service that we rarely get to experience in any modern-day establishment today.

K certainly put out a lot of good karma in the Universe, and I only hope he gets bucketfuls in return.