Three months ago, we had a fascinating conversation with an auto driver in in his early 50’s. Satish (name changed for this story) had the entire office’s attention as he spoke about his family, his expenses, his daily routine, healthcare challenges, rickshaw camaraderie and several other sundry topics. He was one of the initial auto drivers who spoke really good English (we’ve since met many more who speak impeccable English) but that isn’t why I remembered him today.
The striking aspect of his driving life was a “school gig” that runs 10 months of a year. A gig that pays him Rs. 5,000 per month and engenders two virtuous cycles – a) the Rs. 50,000 annual income gets directly earmarked for his family’s housing rent , and b) the creation of two trip anchor points (drop off kids to school 7:30 to 8:30am and pick them up from school at 3pm). Throw in a two hour lunch and an occasional nap and he has himself a semblance of rhythm and income determinism, albeit partial. A work ethic that has him pulling 12-15 hour working days ensures his family’s other financial needs are met.
Today I heard a story that takes income determinism to a whole new level.
This is a story that starts with my regular commuter friend – the same one who provided fodder for the Auto rickshaws and tipping post. My friend is an exacting commuter who only picks five star auto drivers. Today’s driver (who obviously did not ask for extra money) suddenly stopped his auto after crossing a signal. Turns out he wanted to buy a copy of the Bangalore Mirror (yes – English). After reaching the destination, as my friend took some time to pay the fare, the driver was in no rush. He was already settled comfortably behind the Mirror pages, reading. As he took the money, he explained that his next “scheduled” ride was still 20 minutes away. Now quite impressed, my friend handed the driver an mGaadi flier and gave a brief verbal pitch. The GPS solution perked him up – apparently he had read about it in the papers.
Ten minutes later our Ops team got a call from him. His day starts at 4:30am and ends at 6pm. Nothing particularly remarkable about his hours — we know many drivers who pull in even longer shifts. What’s amazing about his schedule is that he has regular customers from 4:30am to 11:30am every singe (week)day – a staggering 7 hours of a daily routine! He’s eager to join the mGaadi network and we are very eager to meet him. I’m sure there’s more to his story.