During my stint in the IPS, once my IGP (Inspector General of Police) flared at me in anger because he did not get a good seat at a cultural event.
It was a celebration to mark South India’s film star Mohanlal’s 25 years in films. With almost 40,000 people jampacked in the MG College ground, my top priority was to avoid a stampede, which would have killed people.
While I was busy managing this tough situation, the IGP (my super-boss) arrived on the scene. The organizers had kept seats for him but in that chaos, the crowds overran the seating arrangement.
My IGP got angry and gave me a mouthful. He gave no consideration to how difficult a situation we were handling – it was so bad that we had to do a lathi-charge to prevent some rowdies from overrunning the venue and causing a stampede.
My IGP and I had worked together for long but all that goodwill was gone in a split second.
On the other hand, even today, when I meet my constables and sub-inspectors decades later, they fondly cherish our time together. They don’t hold grudges for any harshness I may have shown.
This is a pattern I have observed repeatedly – the senior people you fawn over often view you only as a stepping stone in their journey. They often forget you in no time. But the junior people, whom you never did any favors, often remember you and are kind to you.
This is obviously a generalization and not 100% true but it is surprising how often it has been true for me.
As you go through life, don’t give all your attention to just cultivating the senior people.
People in inconsequential roles are not inconsequential people. Cherish everyone. Life does not rank-order people by their goodness – you will find good people everywhere.