Thu, Dec

Different strokes – the corrupt and the incorruptible

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  • This man stopped me to check my luggage tags. I did not have any qualms because that is his job. But what worked me up was his demand saying, “I have done this speedily for you, please help ....

It is not always the case that one meets a gentleman’s gentleman, too honest to a fault. That person would not even accept a freewill offer of a bottle of water after a hot day’s work because his company’s policy says they should not accept a gift for work done.

My heart gladdens up whenever I come across such an abiding individual interpreting corporate policies to the letter. It is a joy because in my six decades and more experience in life, I have discovered that one of the critical commodities lacking in many areas is sincerity of heart. Painfully, this is even perpetrated by practicing Christians on fellow Christians, almost like becoming an acceptable norm.

Corruption focus

In the course of the week, I have met two different strokes of individuals, both working for corporate institutions and who reminded me of the corrupted and the incorruptible at the lowest ladder. It reminded me that corruption is at all levels of our society and our fight against corruption should be across board.

The man I encountered earlier this week at the arrival hall of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in my estimation did not deserve his job as a public officer. Attitudes of his type are detrimental to the beautiful efforts of the Ghana Airports Company at this time in our country’s focus on nation building.

This man stopped me to check my luggage tags. I did not have any qualms because that is his job. But what worked me up was his demand saying, “I have done this speedily for you, please help your boy with anything for nothing is too small.” He repeated that twice as he asked for my passport to cross check the luggage tag. I did what I had to do but ignored his demand. I was not ready to be a party to his solicitation.

I thought to myself, this man must be grateful that he had a job. Maybe he did not realise that but typically, he would have the guts to wear red band and demonstrate if he was asked to go home for misconduct. As a critical interface with guests entering the country for the first time, what he is doing at KIA is clear indiscipline and very much out of order.

Pleasant encounter

Juxtapose that kind of attitude with that of another man I pleasantly encountered also in the week. He had been assigned by his workshop manager to attend to my vehicle which could not start and had left me stranded in the house.

His display of courtesy asking for directions to my house was most impressive. He arrived in no time and sorted me out. The word please, with some smile, never left his lips. As he was leaving, I offered him a bottle of water and a soft drink on that hot afternoon.

He declined my offer, not because he was fasting, but because it is against his company’s policy to accept gifts for work done. Really? I was dealing with a different kind of person at a time when the high and low are demanding even before they commence work. Fact is, I was not offering him money as a tip or a bribe.

My offer was just Ghanaian and in no way was I trying to corrupt someone doing his work. I also have come from a corporate culture where gift offering or receiving above a certain minimum figure was discouraged so instinctively, I continue to live with that culture.

However, it never crossed my mind to refuse a bottle of cold water. I almost asked him, since when in our culture, was water classified as a gift? But that was not the point. There is a fundamental assessment here.

The message that came out clearly to me was that genuiness exist in our midst and there are people who still have respect for ethics and corporate culture with the fear of the Lord etched on their hearts. His act of forthrightness impressed me mightily.

Indeed, corruption is a big thorn in our flesh as a country and much as one tends to associate it with the high and mighty, one is reminded that every now and then the barometer should be applied to those down the corporate ladder. They are those sitting on people’s files in public offices stifling progress because the individual has not paid them anything small.

Customer service and ethics should never be limited to the seniors in an institution. The motor firm I dealt with has done a good job instilling customer service in their staff at the lower level and focusing on curbing corrupt practices in their business.

Why won’t they win my custom and applause? They are the exception that our institutions need to emulate.

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