I got into the smelly taxi on a warm Friday afternoon. The usual cab-line was empty, littered with many a waste and I’d to catch one off the road. There were many taxis on the road, each reluctant to queue up for a preconceived reason. “Why weren’t you where you’re supposed to be?” is how I greeted the cab driver. “Who has the time to stand in the queue..” was his reply.
Bang went my self-righteous belief in the system. There are instances when silly plans are implemented without taking the consent/opinion of those involved. Result being the implementation not being used and everything being an utter mess.
“Customers fail to understand us,” he said. “We’re humans, not animals. We cannot work more than 8-12 hours a day. We face problems, we’re faraway from our homes. We simply cannot accept each and every fare. We’re misunderstood. Look at that fellow standing by the street,” he pointed to a bystander, “If we offer him a ride right now, he will behave arrogantly because he’s been refused twice by cabbies already. I try being helpful and this is what I get. What’s the use?”
“All this traffic makes no sense. Ramazan festival begins tomorrow. ‘Bhaijaans’ (he referred to the Muslim community) flock to certain areas and that is where a cabbie should be. He gets to earn Rs.500-600 easily.”
I imagined the migrating taxi drivers. Struggling to make ends meet. Driving across the city every single day, ferrying passengers. Isn’t it natural for them to hunt for spots which will bring them more money?
“Then there is traffic,” he continued. “We waste our time in traffic and customer refuses to pay the extra waiting charges. It is a cost we have to bear, again, for no fault of ours. At a bus stop, a passenger often flags us down. That’s when the bus comes and he abandons us without the slightest apology. Where are the manners now?”
Manners? We have a long way to go, sonny boy.
“I should have studied hard in high school. I know all subjects except English. Now I regret not taking it up with determination. I know Science, I know Math and I know Economics. I quit because I found it tough to learn English. And here I am, driving a taxi in this city now. Wish I could undo it.”
Our conversation ended with a smart “Here you are, sir” and “You’re welcome.” All he had needed all this while was a human being who would listen to what he had to say. A platform where he’d be heard and be understood. The use of English as we parted highlighted the fact that the fellow is determined to change the status quo.
I was talking to a cab driver who did not see respect in what he did for a living. There is high need for organizations to infuse a sense of ownership, responsibility, self belief and dignity of labor in our working class. It starts with making those around you feel special. Make them realize the value they add to your lives. For paradise’s sake folks, smile at fellow human beings.
Communication still remains a major hurdle. All the major problems can be solved by communicating the emotions, the problems and the solutions better. I believe it all boils down to us, the people. We constitute the society and the government. If we don’t start making a difference and changing the status quo, who will?
Go out there and smile. Have conversations with your employees, colleagues, bosses, clients and business associates. Forge a bond of frank communication and make them feel special. You will live a better life. And the world will change for good.
love and peace