The office looked more like a palace reception than a lounge of a bank. As I sat there, I expected a king to make an appearance in his majestic robe, but instead a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) strolled in, without even glancing at the occupants of the room. He glared at his Secretary, mumbled something to her and then returned to his office.About a minute later, a smartly dressed middle-aged man walked in and the Secretary sprung up and offered him the best seat in the room. He just nodded at us and became engrossed in typing text messages on his mobile. For a few minutes, silence reigned in the room. There were five visitors, including the polished gentleman and each one of us was lost in his own thoughts. Of course, we were there for different reasons. But the amazing thing is that we kept waiting together, even though each of us had separate appointment timings. I could not help thinking that the CEO was making us wait deliberately so that we could grasp the extent of his influence.As we waited silently, the CEO suddenly walked in the room with a broad smile on his face. He walked towards the newcomer, shook his hand and took him to his office. The rest of us just exchanged glances. A man, who was sitting opposite me, broke the silence by blurting: “Why are we here?  Are we a bunch of beggars?”The Secretary’s face turned crimson with embarrassment, but she chose not to say anything. The other two men just shook their heads in disappointment. Minutes later, since we had nothing else to do, we introduced ourselves just to put a cap on our frustrations. The youngest person in the room, he could not be more than 20, said he wanted to work as a driver at the bank. The only way for him to get that job was by meeting the CEO.  The man opposite me wanted a loan that was not approved by his bank manager. He was there to persuade the big boss to sanction it.  I told him that I just wanted an interview for the press.I caught their attention at that precise moment. Perhaps, I could expose the arrogance of that man in the media? As we were discussing it, I noticed the Secretary quietly slipping out of the lounge to enter her boss’ office. She came out less than a minute and continued typing on the keyboard. Just seconds later, the CEO walked with his guest, bade him farewell and then turned to me. He flashed me a smile, took my hand and led me to office. I was not sure what the other men thought of it. I certainly jumped the queue, but it was not my intention to do so. The moment I sat down on the leather chair, he started apologising and said he had to see the man first before any one of us because he was the son of the bank’s Board Chairman. I told him I understood his point, but refrained from adding that his job would have been in the line of fire if he had ignored the youngster.I conducted my interview with the CEO for about half an hour. I must admit that I made no rush to hurry up, so I could relieve the frustrations of the men waiting in the lounge. He walked me out and as I said goodbye, I saw the men glared at me. Their expressions exuded indignation; all of them appeared to be silently calling me a traitor. I am not sure what conclusion should I have drawn from that experience. Perhaps, it is that people with influence and connections are given preference over those who don’t have either? I don’t really know.

nThe writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reprinted from the Khaleej Times.