Guarding the door & National Anthem 

The problem with the “yes principle” is that you invariably encounter problems that could have been avoided with a simple no. 

When I was asked to play the role of Seargent-at-arms (SAA) for a Toastmasters division conference meeting I reluctantly said yes. I knew how difficult it is to find role players at the last minute. 

There is a six member SAA team that coordinates the logistics of the stage, venue and other similar mundane but important part of the meeting. 

My responsibility was to guard the door that led to the all important washroom. Definitely not a promising start to the day. 

My job was to ensure people do not use this door during the meeting. Speakers on the stage shouldn’t be perturbed by the cranky noise of the door opening and closing. Fair enough. When the audience is listening to the speaker with rapt attention the ajar door is actually a huge disturbance. 

It hurt my bloating pride a little. Am I not a VP-Education of my club? Am I not receiving a award on the stage today? Then how can I be made to do such a menial job? Pat came the reply from my inner voice – You can be all that and still be nothing. Shut up and be humble. Do your role and move on. 

Few things I learnt that day. 

  • People need to go to the bathroom right in the middle of a speech being delivered! 
  • They can’t take no for an answer. Going to the bathroom is apparently the first fundamental right provided by the constitution of Sulabh complex.
  • When you got to go, you got to go. 

At the end of the conference when the co-chair was giving vote of thanks I breathed a sigh of relief. Well this is about to get over. The much awaited results were announced and my evaluation was spot on! I had predicted the winners accurately. I should have been a judge and not a washroom door SAA! Nonetheless, I was thankful that the event was getting over until it happened. 

Out of the blue the person on the stage rather than saying thank you said let’s stand to the national anthem. 

I immediately thought – What the heck?  Why? Did we pay homage to our motherland by conducting a Toastmasters conference meeting? Did we secretly hold a meeting with a national agenda? Are we going to watch a movie? 

I questioned the move for two seconds before my colleague said – 2 minutes Aditya. 

During the anthem I was looking at everyone on the stage and in the hall. There was lot of pride in their stance. It was almost as if they had just returned from the Wagah Border. I found the whole exercise pointless. It was better when we used to play the national anthem during special occasions. Now we play it whenever we feel like playing it. The stupidity of this incident made me feel proud of my menial SAA role. At least what i did made sense to me. 


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