Calm Down, Don’t Worry: A Lesson in Service From Government Workers

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Mar 16, 2015

Mr. Ron, don’t stress yourself out. We will find it. We always do. You will get a call within 24 hours, the policeman assured me.

I live and work in Dubai, and I had jumped in a taxi at the end of the day and headed to the mall to pick up an item. When I jumped out of the taxi, being consumed as we all are from time to time (talking on cell phone, writing a note, etc.), I was distracted. I paid the driver and jumped out.

Problem was, I left my wallet on the seat in the cab.

Multi-tasking? It should be banned

When I got to the bank and reached for my wallet, what I had done thought sunk in. I realized that because I had been multi-tasking with the phone to my ear, I had left my wallet in the cab.

In a panic, I found a security guard who “walked” me to Lost & Found. Once there I was asked a bunch of questions and they repeatedly said “Mr. Ron, we will find it; you need not worry.”

It was not really the cash or credit card,s but the UAE ID, UAE Driver’s License, and UAE Car insurance Card that I was worried about. The amount of paperwork and the fines involved would be a nightmare.

But, I was repeatedly told not to worry. I was almost at the point of yelling, “that is easy for you to say!”

When I finished at Lost & Found, they “walked” me over to the police precinct inside the mall. There were more questions, and then they said something that caused me to calm down. he said: “Step outside and a man will pick you up and take you to the spot where you got out of the taxi; we’re very high-tech. We will then find video of you getting out of the taxi on closed circuit, and then we can find the taxi number [this was a reminder to me that it is important to always pay attention to where you are going].”

By now, my thoughts were moving at warp speed. Then as the man from Lost & Found talked into his phone, he said: “Now they see you and within a few minutes, they narrowed it down to the approximate time frame and were able to pull up the video. We have you getting out of the taxi, and we have identified your taxi number and the company the driver works for. We have put a call into them now.”

Calm down and don’t worry

I was told to go home and that there was no need to worry. The policeman said, “Mr. Ron we do not really have any crime here,; whoever finds it will return it.” My New York City mindset said, “sure.”

What I was astounded by as I was being driven home was how helpful everyone was, and how everyone I came in contact with assured me that I will get my wallet back with everything in it. On top of this was the fact that these were all government employees, from the police to the taxi driver (the company is government-owned).

But, I got no calls that night. I began to compile a list for the next day of the agencies I had to deal with in order to get my new Id’s. When you are an expat in a country, you must have all new ID’s — Residency visa and ID card, driver’s license, employer ID card, etc. The fines are enormous if you lose any part of these.

When I arrived at work the next morning, I received a call from an unknown number. On the other end was a gentleman named Muhammed. He said he had been my driver yesterday. He said: “I want you to calm down; there’s no need to worry because I have your wallet.”

“You have what?” I said as I could feel my anxiety level rise.

A positive mindset

He assured me he was only 10 minutes away from my office. Later when he pulled up, he said the he was so thankful he had found me. He said he did not sleep the previous night as I had no contact number in my wallet. He had called the government agencies about my ID cards, and they immediately had given him my phone number.

To show my gratitude, I told him to keep the cash and just give me the wallet. We both hugged, and as I walked away, my mind reverted back to everyone telling me that I should “calm down, you will get everything back.”

What I dealt with during all of this were government employees, and all of them in a positive mindset. There was none of surliness that we have come to expect from our government employees. In fact, these people could give a course in customer service with their attitude.

Dubai: A happy place

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, in launching his Dubai Plan 2021, that “The first objective for the Dubai Plan 2021 is achieving people’s happiness. We have full confidence in those responsible to fulfill this goal.”

He focused on six themes which he wants to define Dubai in 2021:

  • A city of happy, creative and empowered people;
  • An inclusive and cohesive society;
  • A preferred place to live, work, and visit;
  • A smart and sustainable city;
  • A pivotal hub in the global economy;
  • A pioneering and excellent government.

Getting the choir to sing the same song

How do you get an entire government, let alone a small company, to get everyone on page?

One of the things that I have noticed since moving to the Middle East is just how helpful and considerate people are. You get on public transportation and when a woman steps into the train car, every man is ready to give up his seat for her, and not for the fact that she is elderly, with child, etc. It just does not make a difference; they give up their seat for any woman.

I walked out of the Metro one day talking to a client on the phone, and in the background I heard someone calling out. I did not turn around until someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a woman who told me that when I reached in my pocket to pull my cell phone out, all my money dropped, but again, being engrossed in a call, I did not realize it. She then stuffed all the money back into my hand and walked away.

The Dubai policeman told me that, “we do not have any crime here to speak of.” When you see police, you notice they do not have guns. They are there to help with any question you have and they are truly customer service focused. There’s no attitude to speak of.

A city of positivity: We can do it

Positivity can’t be manufactured, dictated, or created. People have to believe in the whole mission of what they are doing. The driver of the police golf cart told me that, “I am only trying to help you” as he kept asking me questions that I had already answered as I became impatient during the hunt for my wallet.

I can truly say that “I love Dubai.” It’s a city that thrives on being positive.

Our businesses and employees could surely learn a lesson from how they do things there.