Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Smooth Operator

Last Sunday, late in the evening we had a visitor. We had had the perfect Sunday, unwinding at home after a busy week (for my husband); I was all set to eat an early dinner, that my IF protocol dictated before I stepped out for my evening walk to meet my step goals for the day. The door bell went off reminding me of my daughter who played the tune on her piano. With distracted random mixed thoughts between eating healthy, meeting step goals and my daughter, I answered the door.

I saw a young balding man with a hesitant smile and lightly hooded eyes, who stood his ground with a confident body posture, his arms crossed lightly at the wrists in fig leaf position.

‘No, I am not selling anything ma’am. I only need two minutes of your family’s time to educate you about the elderly” he said.

I felt slightly embarrassed at the message my face may have communicated. He was a decent looking human and I welcomed the man in. My husband was home, computing tax deductions for the year at the dining table a few paces away and I felt safe.

My forever distracted husband looked up from his work and smiled enigmatically, extended his hand for a proper handshake and looked over at me waiting for me to introduce the visitor. When I said that the visitor was a stranger to me as well and that he asked to speak to the both of us for a few minutes, I could sense relief wash over him. Most times he doesn’t remember anyone that we have met in the past.

My husband is great at number crunching but has no head for faces and names

The visitor said he represented HelpAge India and he mentioned a neighbour whose name sounded familiar. He said he was on a social visit and asked for references of like minded people who may want to support his organizations initiatives and that is how he came to be at our door.

We nodded and encouraged him to proceed.

He shared a few disturbing facts about uncared for adults in their senior years, opened a folder he was carrying and shared some printed pamphlets for us to browse, while he continued talking in the background. My eighty year old mother in law who was in her room till then, ambled across the dining space towards the kitchen to get some water. The young man quickly took in the details and felt a little more encouraged that we may be the right kind of people to talk to.

I asked about his background to make sure that we aren’t being conned. He was an Engineering graduate who decided to take the plunge with NGO’s very early in his career. He wanted to serve the country by joining the airforce wing of the Indian Army but did not qualify for the short service commission. He had already been with HelpAge India for five years and based out of different cities, with his latest posting in Chennai.He showed us his ID then.

While the husband busied himself reading the pamphlets, he complimented me on the great choice of interiors of our house, noticed a framed photograph of Maxx and asked about him.

If there was a Masterclass in building rapport and influencing people, he would have led the class brilliantly

He talked about his mother’s love for animals and the number of cats she owns, her robust recovery from leukemia, the plants that grew in her garden and showed photographs of his family on his phone camera roll.

Meanwhile, my husband who was quietly listening to our conversation in the background while browsing through the pamphlets agreed to support a couple of elderly people through the organization for whom he was raising funds. As he began writing the cheque, the young man interrupted with an intuitive, ‘ I rarely get to meet kindred spirits such as you. I know you can support more than just a couple, sir.’

He knew exactly how to persuade. He was passionate and sincere. We believed in him.

The young man looked absolutely pleased as he collected the cheque and left with a promise to call and wish me on my birthday which also happened to be the same day that his mother was born.


After he recovered from the mind engagement with the young man, the husband says to me, ‘Did you check his ID card before you let him inside the house’.