I arrived in Delhi early this morning. I use the same car company every time I visit a city, which means I’ve gotten to know the 3-4 drivers who work there quite well. It’s nice because they already know my typical schedule, and I see a familiar face at the airport. But I always feel bad for my drivers. Whenever I’m on a trip, I cram in as many meetings as possible – I’m going nonstop from the minute I land till the time I take off. Most of my meetings are in-depth conversations, and it’s difficult to predict if they’ll last for 30 minutes or 3 hours. I feel terrible about the unpredictability of my schedule, because it often makes my drivers wait for long periods of time. At least since the arrival of cell phones, my drivers don’t have to wait by the door to let me know where they parked.
I’m happy to report that my guilt vanished today. Here’s why: when I got into the car today, my driver Arun said that he and the other drivers had been talking about me a couple of days ago. It got me curious and I asked him what they were talking about. He said that they were all vying for doing duty with me and that they were saying to each other that working for Madam is nice. (For my American friends reading this, “Madam” does not have a loaded meaning in India like it does in the US. It’s a respectful way to address a woman.) I was rather taken aback by his comment, but also silently relieved. I asked him what was appealing in my crazy schedule (Delhi, Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, all in the same day sometimes, going continuously from 8am to 11pm). He told me that he usually drives to Chandigarh and back on the same day, and that most of the time he does 500kms plus on the same day. So, compared to that, my job is rather relaxing! With me, the drivers get to drive and then relax a bit, because I have long meetings most of the time and don’t need to spend all day rushing across state borders.
I was really happy he told me this. Otherwise, I would have continued to feel guilty about my travel schedule. And it occurred to me that he did something that is so simple, but so often neglected. How many times do we take the time to say something nice to someone? Or let them know what we REALLY think of them? Just by this short conversation, he unburdened me of my unnecessary guilt and made me happy. It’s time for me to think about how to implement the “pay it forward” scheme and tell someone else how happy they make me feel to work with them. Plus, next time I visit Delhi, I won’t feel bad about making the drivers wait a long time. It just might be the break they deserve. You see! It’s all just a matter of perspective.