I generally do not converse with strangers (of course our safety instincts do not let us do that), but this time the traffic jam was too boring for me to keep quiet. It was then that I realized; sometimes we come across people who are much more than they appear.
Often due to my language barrier, weak persuasion skill and ignorance about the routes, the rickshaw wallas used to charge more fare than it was. Either they took a different route or intentionally drove slower to accelerate the value of the meter. But I had no choice.
Using public transport and rickshaws for my basic transportation needs always, I never really relied on cab services like Ola or Uber. Firstly, because of their hefty fairs and above it, the ever surfacing crimes by the drivers. Though it is considered quite safe traveling in cabs, owing to the full tracking options, still the fear does not go away. In nutshell, it was rare that I hired cabs for my transit.
But then came the revolutionary service of Ola auto. Initially, I didn’t believe it too but gradually realized that it is after all auto itself and so can be worth trying. The satisfaction of riding in an auto backed up by the relief of not being forced to pay extra was my incentive I think.
So, I was to board my train to my hometown and I had booked an ola auto which promised to charge only 29 RS. For distance till 4 km.
I always wondered how did the rickshaw wallas survive in such minimal amount and do they have any benefit from this offer. This ride answered all my questions.
Reluctantly I started a conversation with this decent looking driver who was trying hard to maneuver through the traffic to help me reach the station on time.
“There is so much traffic here all over the city, how do you people manage on such stressful roads?” I asked him. “No, it is not like that. It is very comfortable for me, I do not take rides to places where there is a lot of traffic, it hampers my ride calculation. If I get a ride then and there, its okay, otherwise I come back.”
“How does this 4 km offer help you?” I asked.
“It is very convenient, the company pays us well, apart from what customer pays, the balance money which should be there according to the general fare( meter value) is paid to us by the company. It is a win-win situation for all the three, the customer- he gets the ride cheap, the company- they have got a tremendous shoot up in auto rides and for us, we get our due money, which in normal days varies drastically.
For every 30 rides in a day, we are paid 400 RS, daily over and above the amount the customer pays us. Rs. 150 for 10 rides, and so on. So if the customer pays us less, availing the various offers the cab company offers them, that loss which can we incur is paid by the cab company. So we have no problem in taking rides.”
“Are you happy?” I asked.
“Yes, I cannot ask for more.I love my work. I have been employed with Ola for 5 years now, I think I was the 2nd -3rd auto driver to be hired by them in this city. I have taken around 5000 rides with ola so far. The best part is they reward us well. I have received 2 gold coins also, for my service. The company is good.
I also enquired about the mobile phones these drivers had(I often wondered how do these people afford such expensive looking smartphones)
“They provide us phones for some time, till we can buy our own phone. Often they also pay half of the amount required to buy one. Though data pack is always provided by them free. I took a phone and data pack from them in the beginning. The phone broke, they paid me half amount for the new one but I denied the data pack. I use Reliance JIO now. I have a better phone too.”
I had a smile when I finished the ride. I often felt sympathetic for these rickshaw wallas, wondering that their life expenses were dependent upon our rides. But after this, I was really happy to know that in some or the other way, though for their own profits, the cab company is making a difference in such people’s life.