Court Stories II: Client Care

Written by  //  October 1, 2011  //  Law & The Judiciary  //  1 Comment

[A guest post by Anuj]

I suppose client management is an integral part of any profession. The client is the source of your wealth, the reason why you are still in business; it is the client’s money that pays your bills. But that does not mean you must be servile. Some clients are to be always kept on a short leash; some can be given a longer rope. At the end of the day, the client must be treated with adequate respect; too much will inflate his/her ego and deflate your fees and too little will mean no fees at all. And, on the whole, Boss stuck to the this line of thought and expected me to do so. And I did. But there were exceptions and one of them was Thumbi. Even now, when I no longer have to deal with him, Thumbi gives me nightmares.

I imagine Mr. Devyakavala Shudropara Thumbi, Legal Officer of the regional branch of a gigantic PSU, to be a fairly short man with a giant paunch, balding head and thick bushy moustache. Big eyes covered with gold-framed spectacles and a mouth which remains perpetually half open, as if he is always just about to say something or was stopped mid-sentence. I also imagine Mr. Thumbi to be a doting father with two, slightly stupid, children and a slightly aggressive wife.

The above description, in all likelihood, is not true.

What is true is that Mr. Thumbi is an unqualified idiot. A complete and utter moron.

How he made it to the post of Legal Officer is one of the greatest, unresolved mysteries of our times. Way ahead of the Bermuda Triangle, Stonehenge, the Loch Ness Monster or even the existence of Sarah Palin.

Sample conversation:

Mr. Thumbi:        “Hello? Eh? Hello? ELLO????????”

Me:                           “Yes. Mr. Thumbi. I am right here.”

MT:                            “HELLOOOOOOOOOOO?”

Me:                           “Mr. Thumbi, I CAN HEAR YOU!”

Thumbi:                 “Aaah? Oh yes. Yes. ‘Ow are you saar?”

And this was just the exchanging of the pleasantries.

Even sending a simple e-mail involved a long, heart-attack inducing conversation.

“Allo? Aaa saar, Thumbi here. That agreement please can you e-mail?”

“Sure Mr. Thumbi, your e-mail address please”

Mr. Thumbi would then mumble something to his Personal Assistant (“PA”) who would mumble something back. They would mumble back and forth, while I would hold on. Wanting to pinch my eye balls out.

“Ahh saar, please write down…….”

The e-mail would be sent. And returned immediately since the said e-mail address did not exist.

Another phone call.

“Mr. Thumbi, I had sent the e-mail to your address but it says the e-mail id does not exist.”

“Does not exist aah? Wait you please send it again.”

“Mr. Thumbi, it won’t make a difference how many times I send it.”

“Ahh? No you please send again”

“Mr. Thumbi. IT DOES NOT EXIST!” [Deep breath] Do you have any other e-mail address Mr. Thumbi?”

And then the PA would come into the picture and they would have another mumble-conference. The mail would eventually reach Mr. Thumbi & Co but not before I had seriously contemplated eye-surgery using a pencil.

The worst was when things got even slightly technical and considering that we were their legal advisors, things got “technical” fairly often. Then the poop really hit the cooling mechanism. I remember e-mailing him an affidavit which needed to be signed and notarized and sent back so that it could be filed before the court. We were running against Limitation and the stakes were particularly high. In other words, it needed to be done yesterday.

“Alllo? Saaar? Thumbi here”

“Yes Mr. Thumbi.”

“Ahh. Saar. I have received the affidavit. Now. Where you want my sign?”

“Above the word “deponent” Mr. Thumbi”

“Ahh? Deponent ahh? Ah yes. Saar there are two-two “deponents” on same page. I sign both aa?”

“Yes Mr. Thumbi”

“Ah. Wokay. Now there are blanks also. What is to be done there saar?”

“What blanks?” I would ask, panicking at the thought of leaving something out.

“Aahh, it says here saar. Son of blank”

“Mr. Thumbi, that is for you to fill out. Please fill in your father’s name.”

“Ahh wokay. But saar there are other blanks also.”

“Mr. Thumbi please read it. You simply have to fill in your age, office address and the like.”

“Mine aa? My office address ah?”

“Yes Mr. Thumbi”

“Ahh. Wokay. Age aah? My age aaa?

…….

He sent the affidavit the very next day. Duly notarized and all. Except he had forgotten to sign at all the places. Here Boss was on my case and there Mr. Thumbi had decided to become the desi version of Mr. Bean. The affidavit had to be sent again, things had to be explained to Mr. Thumbi once more.

The next day, the envelope arrived. The affidavit was duly signed but not notarized. That day, I kid you not, I very nearly lost it. Reached the brink of madness, glimpsed the eyes of the Crazed Spirit and then just about returned to sanity. And I decided to do what all juniors should do when things get a little too hard. Ask Boss to handle it.

I dialed Mr. Thumbi, handed the phone to Boss and left the room.

Ten minutes later, Boss arrives at my desk; his angry vein popping and forehead glistening with sweat. He is clutching my phone with a particularly manic look in his eyes.

Looks at me and says:

“This Thumbi chap……”

“Yes sir?”

Silence. Complete silence. Somewhere in the southern region of the country, Mr. Thumbi was attacking a plate of curd rice with great gusto. Or so I imagine.

“This Thumbi fellow……”

More silence.

“Prepare a fresh affidavit in the name of our Delhi fellow. We will file it through them.”

“Yes sir.”

One Comment on "Court Stories II: Client Care"

  1. Alok October 2, 2011 at 4:16 am ·

    fantastic stuff!
    Have had many, many such experiences and this brought back memories that sent a cold shiver up my spine…

    No one teaches you how to deal with the plain annoying to the simply slimy all the way to outright batshit insane cliets. 😉

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