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What the Auto Driver Did!

There is goodness around us. People are generally trust wor thy. You need to give humanity a chance

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Something interesting happened on a recent holiday in Kerala. We took the train from Trivandrum to a town called Tripunithra, to visit a dear uncle and aunt.

As we got off the train – around 8 p.m. – I quickly pulled out my phone to call an Uber. The app said it was 11 mins away but after waiting – and waiting – I was told there were no cabs available. Same with Ola. And there were no autorickshaws around either. With a wife and three bags in tow, things were looking just a bit grim.

And then an auto came by. Where, asked the driver. And when he learnt that my destination was just 1 km away, he didn’t seem too pleased. Hop in he said. He didn’t start the meter. He didn’t quote a fare. But I was just glad to be on my way.

When we reached home, I got off  and – in a display of gratitude and relief – gave the auto driver a 100 bucks. The fare would have been 25 or 30 rupees, but I wanted to thank the guy for getting us home. And in any case, the cab fare would have been about the same! And as he looked at the 100 rupee note in my hand, guess what the auto driver said?

He said “No sir, that’s a lot. Fifty rupees should be fine.” And I said, no, no, you were helpful, keep it. But he refused and insisted that I take the fifty rupees change. I had no choice.

And as he drove away into the night, I couldn’t help thinking what a good human being that was! We tend to have this stereotype about auto drivers as these wily chaps trying to cheat us off ten-twenty rupees. Maybe we all need to hit the reset button and learn to respect the fact that there is an honest, hardworking human being inside that auto driver’s uniform.

And as I thought about it later that night, I couldn’t help thinking how we encounter the ‘auto driver’ ever so often  in our organisations, our communities, our lives. Someone we’ve built a false perception about. Someone we’ve wrongly condemned as untrustworthy. Someone we are convinced is out to get us. And we behave with these people in a manner that clearly indicates our distrust.

Not only are we doing a disservice to those folks, we are short-changing ourselves too. We begin to be suspicious of perfectly innocent people. A train ride that could have meant new friends and fun conversations turns into a bore because we don’t want to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

In dealing with a vendor, we treat him like a crook out to cheat us – and not a partner who could potentially help us win. There are good people out there, waiting to help. But we are busy putting up a ‘Do not disturb’ sign.

So in a season when we celebrate the festival of lights, and the triumph of good over evil, maybe a good idea for each of us to demolish the demons of pre-conceived notions in our heads. There is goodness around us. People are generally trustworthy. You need to give humanity a chance. The world is indeed conspiring to help you succeed. Don’t turn them away!

Change the way you think. And make your world a better place.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Prakash Iyer

Iyer is an author, speaker and leadership coach , and former MD of Kimberly Clark Lever

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