My Argument with an Auto Rickshaw Driver

When I started this Blog, I had lofty visions – of changing myself and may be even the world.

Truth be told, I have not been blessed by any significantly inspiring thought since I started this blog,  to move in the direction of those lofty visions. And I feel more than a trifle dishonest to echo the wisdom of my favorite writers.

I am not setting out with the idea of changing the world. Yet, I will make conscious movements towards improving myself, inch by inch.

And I will be myself here. Not a shadow of anyone else, but my authentic self. This is not for impressing anyone – not even me.

And, I will write about the trivial things that affect my life. Like it happened this morning after I took an auto-rickshaw to go for an appointment with the procurement officer in a Corporate organisation at 9.30 am.

He had wanted me to meet him around 8 am today, but I pleaded for 10 am, but then settled for 9.30 am after he insisted. It is nice to see the commitment of people to their work.

Commitment. That is something for me to think about.

Coming back to the auto ride, the rates had to be renegotiated with the driver on the way as I had to take a detour on account of the metro rail work. I thought he was  exploiting my helplessness forced upon me by the pouring rain and my appointment. He asked for an amount which was almost twice the normal amount for the distance. Then an argument ensued, I lost my cool, he shouted and I shouted back.

Then I had to relent, cool down, but not before reminding him that money earned like this would not stay with him for long. (I now wish I had not said that). Then I decided to bottle my fury and my righteous indignation within myself.  I quietened down and turned decent.

After he dropped me for the appointment, he did not have enough change for the Rs.500 note gave him. So he waited for me to finish my appointment. After I finished my meeting, he was not able to get the necessary change from the nearby petrol bunks too, and agreed to take me to my office – at more than double the normal rates.

Then he and I experienced the mother of all traffic jams. It took us more than an hour and a half to reach what should have taken just about 10 minutes. And water from the flooded streets nearly came into the vehicle.

Through it all, the driver did not grumble and chatted with me amiably, for a change. I felt good about his acceptance of the unhappy situation.

After I got down from the auto rickshaw, I gave the driver more than what he had asked for. He was happy, so was I.

I wondered what made me give him more than the hard fought negotiated amount. The satisfaction he gave me by not cribbing and his happy acceptance was a game changer.

When I experienced the best that the driver could give by way of his behavior, price was not a factor. The value he gave me this morning was not just dropping me at my office, it was his happy disposition after the hard negotiation was over.

People pay happily not just for a job, but also for the experience they get while the job is being done.

It is very easy to awaken the nasty side in people, but with some doing, I can also tap into the higher in them.

And, price for the same job will vary depending upon whether it is a rainy day or a normal day. After all, who can fault the auto driver for making hay while it rained cats and dogs?

Like he changed my perception about demanding a higher price during tough times, I need to educate customers about our right to be paid well during these tough days.

Many auto drivers parked their vehicles to avoid the risk of  stalling and stopping on the road. Others plied their trade regardless. And made hay.

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