THE ARABIAN NIGHT
The words of the tongue should have three gate-keepers:
Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
Two days ago, my son and I had been to the international airport, Sahar. My wife had been to Thailand (Phuket/Bangkok and other places) with her company colleagues. We were there to receive her. The flight was delayed by almost two hours; and, finally, when they arrived at almost 12.30, we booked a prepaid cab. A colleague of my wife, whose house was on our way home, was all alone. We decided to drop her on our way.
So, while placing the bags on the carrier of the cab, I told the cabbie to keep two of those bags together so that it would be easy for us to remove them when she would get off.
Immediately, I saw a reaction from the cabbie. “Only one drop is allowed,” he said bluntly.
“We just have to stop the taxi on our way, that’s all,” I said, “It is right on our way.”
“That becomes two drops; not allowed,” he, again, said quite rudely. However, the bags, by then, had been already tied on the carrier. My wife gently nudged me, which meant, “Leave it!”
At that time of the night, the roads were empty. Throughout the journey, I and my son had some exciting stories from my wife and her friend. Just as the place to drop my wife’s friend approached, I gently requested the cabbie to slow down a bit and to stop the taxi a little a head.
What we saw was quite shocking! The cabbie did not reduce his speed and did not respond to what I was saying.
“Just slow down; she has to get down here,” I reminded him, this time, annoyed.
“You had booked the taxi for…” he mentioned my place.
“Yes, I did,” I reacted, “What is the problem now?”
The speed had not come down, yet.
I was angry, by now.
“You have any problem?” I asked him sternly.
“Yes, I do,” he said.
“What is that?” I asked him.
“We are not bound to give two drops,” he played the same old broken-record!
He stopped the taxi, right in the middle of the road!
It was past 1.30. It was supposed to be a happy occasion for all of us. We were excited to be together after almost a week. And, here, for some silly reasons, I found myself entangled with this stranger, whose face I would not see again for rest of my life!
“Now listen, my friend,” I put it strongly, and asked, “Is it a question of some extra charges… say fifty or hundred more?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“If that is the question, why didn’t you ask me a little gently, and directly…? Would I have refused?” I asked him.
Even after this, there was no remorse on the cabbie’s face. He seemed to have no regret.
I was not able to drop my annoyance. I did not like the way he had handled, at that hour of the night, two ladies who had returned from a far away place to re-unite with their dear ones. I wanted to tell him, “Don’t do such things… There are some decent ways of doing it.”
Yes, I was still fuming.
By the time my wife’s friend got off, I had already told this: “While waiting for those two hours, at the airport, we bought two simple sandwiches… We paid Rs. 160/- for two. Just two slices of bread on which a thin layer of mayonnaise! We bought a bottle of mineral water for which we paid Rs.40/-! Two small cups coffee, for Rs.60/-…” I wanted to make my point: “Bloody, would I mind paying another 50 or 100 on this cab?”
Luckily, the cabbie did not further provoke me. And, luckily, my wife and my young-son were chilled out. “Chill dad,” my son kept pressing my shoulder.
When we reached our place, I pulled a hundred-rupee note and handed over to the cabbie. He had no issue, anymore.
He went his way… and, we went ours!
After two days, when I reflect on this late-night episode, I feel I did a stupid thing by handling the situation the way I did. I could have asked him, right when I first saw on his face his resistance, “Do you want me to pay some extra amount?” Probably, he would have demanded fifty or hundred more and, if I had agreed to pay him that, the matter would have ended there itself.
No, instead, I left him guessing. Probably, being a prepaid deal, he must have anticipated my reluctance to shell out anything more… That’s why he must have acted the way he had.
And, here was I: I wanted him to be more courteous and open. I would have certainly given him the extra amount. But, looking at the arrogant behavior, I had turned wild!
So, who should change his ways, now?
Who should learn and grow from the experience?
The cabbie doesn’t blog… I do!
So, may the Arabian proverb guard the gates of my tongue on another similar night. May the gate-keepers check before I speak:
“Is it true?”
“Is it kind?”… and
“Is it necessary?”