“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

I rose to go to the lavatory. The ten-hour flight to London was quiet; passengers slept or watched in-flight movies. My stupor vanished as I overheard a stewardess at her station, swear at the ‘animals’ on her flight. While her colleagues heard sympathetically, I pretended to be sleepy. They were alarmed to see me and quietly changed the topic. Later as we disembarked the plane, I contrasted the onboard pleasantries to the daily challenges and struggles in their profession. They do serve their passengers but is service really their motivation? Or is it because that helps them earn a livelihood? What about service that guarantees no tangible returns to you; how many offer that to others?

When the plane begins its descent, the pilot and stewardess announce their gratitude for flying with them. They are especially thankful because you have given them an opportunity to serve. And they wish to see you fly with them again so that they could serve you another time as well. The crew stands at the exit to bid goodbye, and they wish you all the best.

The principle of service is universal. I often witness at the Howrah railway station, teeming with millions, the overhead speaker announce a warm welcome to all the passengers arriving on the Geetanjali express. The Eastern Railways is overwhelmed with happiness to welcome us to the city of Kolkatta! I look at the faces of anxious travelers rushing out, and have often wondered about the voice above; does anyone really care about the welcome?

To be continued…

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