I know this to be a very unpopular opinion. Had you told me this few months ago, I would have called you naïve and possibly crazy. But then something changed 3 months ago.
3 months ago, I decided to stop waking up early in the mornings.
I was tired of having to get up at 7 am and get ready for office in less than 20 minutes (I can be really efficient when needed). I was done with rushed mornings offering me no time to day-dream.
This decision, however, was quite pricey. You see, I was getting up at 7 so that I could take the office cab at 7:20 am. If I don’t take the office cab, I need to Uber or Ola. Both of which are quite expensive to begin with and consistently get more expensive as peak traffic hours approach. At this point luckily, I discovered that Ola Autos don’t have aggressive peak pricing and the autos are frequently available. This made my life much easier.
So, for the past 3 months, I have taken an auto to work 4 days a week. I have observed many different Auto-wallahs and have been frequently surprised by them and their behavior.
My limited experience with them in the past have not been very pleasant. This is mostly because when you try to hire them on the go (as opposed to book from an app), they quote high prices and you need to negotiate (expertly, which I cannot do) to get a fair deal. Negotiating with them (or anyone) emotionally exhausts me and so I tend to avoid it as much as I can. As a result, I often felt cheated out of my money. Since that is not a problem with app based auto bookings, this time I was able to come out of my self pity party and notice my surroundings.
In due course, I witnessed many of my auto drivers perform several acts of kindness.Two of the most remarkable incidents are occurred as follows.
One morning, on a flyover, my auto-driver stopped by to see if he could help one of the fellow drivers who was looking quite helpless. They had a very short chat, decided on something and both of them got back into their autos. And before I know it my auto-driver was sitting in his own driver seat sticking his left leg out and resting it at the back of the other auto. By doing so he was able to push it using the force from his auto. Quite the ‘Jugaad’, if you will. He drove like that for at least 10 minutes till we reached a repair shop. After which with a gentle wave of their hands both the drivers went off on their own merry ways.
Another morning, during peak hours, we (me and my auto-driver) witnessed a motorbike passenger drop his phone on the road. It was a busy road and there was a very good chance that someone would run over the phone before anyone realizes what happened. Not on my auto-driver’s watch, though. He immediately went into action mode (while driving the auto), he put out his right hand to stop a tractor from running the phone over, stopped next to the phone, leaned out to pick it up and then drove to the point where the bike and it’s riders had stopped after realizing that they dropped the phone. He tried to give the phone to the passenger who had dropped it, but the passenger in his panic, paid him no heed and continued running towards the place where he had dropped the phone. The rider, however, accepted the phone with a relief and a thank you. My auto-driver with a nod and a wave continued on his way to drop me.
I have also seen several of my auto-drivers stop over to help people with directions, help manage traffic situations, help out people who got into minor accidents and scold them for being reckless, go out of their way to ensure change is available for me when I pay them in cash, never say no to my office trips just because they are so far away, be considerate enough to let me know they are taking a detour for gas and many other things.
It is a nice thing to imagine, that every day on the roads of Bangalore there is at least one act of selfless kindness being performed by one of the many Auto-wallahs. Perhaps, we should also learn from them and be kinder to each other on the road especially at times when it is easier to not be.