The times are such now that it is difficult for us to go without Ola or Uber. We book rides almost on a daily basis. While some people like chatting up with the driver, others remain silent. Many times the drivers are ignored even when they try to start a conversation. Sometimes rides are cancelled by the drivers and we go on a rant as to how it is their job to accept the ride and how they are not doing their job properly. While some of us are not much interested in the lives of the drivers who take us around, here is a story about a woman and her Ola driver and how a small gesture can make a lot of difference.
Treating people as equal because they are. So my road trip to Chidambaram with my parents had us driving with Elumalai in an Ola outstation. Soft-spoken and reserved at first but with me in the front seat, he had little choice but to respond to my zillion questions about his life and his village and children and so much more. He had driven that very morning from Tirupati and never refused any ride because of the loans he needed to pay off. We had booked our stay at the nicest hotel in the town. I wondered if Ola made provisions at all for their drivers and realised that they did not. Mostly they slept in the cars. So I decided that after a long 6-hour drive, no one needed the rest as much as Elumalai did and booked him another room in that same hotel. We reached at 6 PM, went to the temple briefly and slept in early. With tall promises to ourselves that we would wake up at 5 30 AM the next day, also told him the same. But of course better sense prevailed so we all decided to sleep in. The next morning I checked if his room was comfortable if there was hot water, the fan worked and invited him to have breakfast with us. He shared emotionally that he had not had a good night’s rest in weeks thanks to the rides that he had accepted. This was the first good night’s sleep. He was in tears and me in more…life is really hard for many. We take ours for granted. To be able to be sensitive, kind…its a wonderful opportunity. I am grateful for the same and also that the hotel staff took a lot of care in ensuring that Elumalai was treated like any other customer of theirs. Because he was no different.
Story by – Aarti Madhusudan
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