Secret of wearing a thick skin, saving it

SPICE OF LIFE: Besides teaching us the basics of banking, they would regale us with humorous anecdotes from their work experience
Besides teaching us the basics of banking, the instructors would regale us with humorous anecdotes from their work experience. (Representational photo/HT file)
Besides teaching us the basics of banking, the instructors would regale us with humorous anecdotes from their work experience. (Representational photo/HT file)
Published on Aug 31, 2021 05:20 PM IST
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By Chander Gupta

When I joined as a bank officer in 1984, our batch had to undergo an induction programme at the staff training centre (STC), according to the standard procedure at that time. Bank officials who imparted training at the STC were called instructors. It was a month-long programme in a residential campus. The instructors were the bank’s general cadre officers who had been picked up from operations for the training assignment for a fixed tenure. The instructors were repatriated to operations on the completion of their tenure in the training system.

There were six instructors at the STC who would take our classes, four in a day, by rotation. Besides teaching us the basics of banking, they would regale us with humorous anecdotes from their work experience. Each one of the instructors had their own eccentricities and peculiar experiences, which would be reflected in their lectures.

The lectures of one instructor would be interspersed with two particular tips. He would often tell us, in between his lectures, to “save your skin first”. It was said in the context of decision-making that as bankers we were going to be involved in after completion of the probation period. It was a practical advice to safeguard our job first and foremost while taking any decision, especially those related to credit. Another advice he would repeat frequently was to “be thick-skinned”. It implied that as officers we should not be sensitive to reproach and rebuke from our seniors and customers. He gave to us these pieces of advice from what he had imbibed from his experience in the operations.

One day, when he was repeating the same counsel for the umpteenth time, a retort from one the trainees brought the house down with laughter. The trainee summed up succinctly the instructor’s exhortations in a witty riposte: “Sir, do we have to be skin specialists?” Later on in our career, the advisories given by our instructor stood us in good stead.

Now that I have retired from the bank service, a reference to ‘skin’ again made an impactful impression during a chat with an NRI friend settled in New York. There was this conversation around health that navigated towards organs of the body. It was a revelation for me when my friend told me that the skin was the largest organ in the human body. I was surprised to think of the skin as an organ. My friend was a bit bemused at my ignorance of this plain fact. But my scepticism didn’t let go of the conversation around the skin. I wondered aloud, seeking clarification from my friend, as to what care did we take of this largest organ?

My friend was prompt to satiate my curiosity with a simple counter question. “Don’t we bathe regularly?” It immediately dawned upon me that our bathing basically serves the purpose of cleansing and maintenance of our skin, the largest organ of our body.

The significance and secret of the skin were revealed to me again! chander59@icloud.com

The writer is a Panchkula-based retired banker

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Saturday, October 23, 2021