Dignity of labour

Vijay, who lived in our neighbourhood, ran a tourist taxi business. One morning, all his taxis had been booked, but one of his drivers had not reported for duty. The last taxi had been booked by a local customer to pick up an elderly couple from the airport at 9.00 am, take them to a temple around 120 km away and drop them at the customer’s residence after they had attended a function. Vijay tried to arrange a substitute driver, but was not successful till 7.45 am. Having run out of time, he decided to drive the taxi himself.

At the airport, he stood outside the Arrival hall, holding up a placard bearing the customer’s name. As soon as the elderly couple identified themselves to him, Vijay greeted them, requested them to follow him and started wheeling the baggage trolley towards his taxi. He took care to speak in Hindi. He was afraid that, if he spoke fluent English, the customers might suspect that he was not a taxi driver, but the owner, in which case they might hesitate to allow him to do manual work like handling their baggage.

They reached the temple at 11.30 am. The customer told Vijay that they would be back at around 1.30 pm after attending the function and having lunch, asked Vijay to have his lunch at the nearby restaurant and handed a Rs. 100 note to him. Vijay initially refused to take the money, but since the customer insisted, he accepted it.

After the couple came out of the temple, Vijay asked them if they wanted to go directly to their host’s residence or if they had any other place to visit. They asked him to drop them at their host’s residence.

At the customer’s residence, Vijay carried the guests’ bags to the door and left after they were let in by his customer’s wife. Since she did not know Vijay, and the customer was not at home, Vijay’s secret remained a secret to the guests!

That evening, Vijay narrated the incident to a few of us, and laughingly said that he would carefully preserve the Rs. 100 note as a memento!

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30 thoughts on “Dignity of labour

  1. Thank God your friend could manage it great just in time.
    My experience in Chennai was just the reverse. During my visit for a company audit, a taxi was to pick me up at the airport. On arrival I waited for quite some time and then took an auto. Later at the client’s office, as I was complaining, in walks the driver with a voucher bearing my name. He said someone claiming to be me got into the cab and dropped at the destination. Not his fault. The wrong guy got a free ride on my account! .

  2. That’s the difference between an owner who actually runs his business and corporate houses who run companies. In a self run business, the owner doesn’t quite hesitate to get his hands dirty and keep the job going on, but in corporates, the ‘passing the buck’ scenario is more than prevalent and even simple tasks take a long time in getting done.

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring anecdote.

    • What you say is largely true. However, I have often seen this kind of positive attitude among employees even in corporates. The positive attitude could be self-developed, picked up from a present/past boss or could be due to company culture.

  3. Respect.
    A very very timely lesson for all of us, who deign to do what we can, however we can, when the situation is such that it requires us to be the best we can.
    Please do convey my deep appreciation of his having shown how easy it really is; walking the talk!

    • Thank you. This incident took place many years back. I’ve lost touch with Vijay, but if I do meet him, I’ll certainly convey your appreciation, which is special since it comes from a teacher!

  4. Appreciate !
    Vijay, for his dedication and the ‘customer service’ and for respecting the job. May there be many more Vijays !
    You, for sharing the most simple of stories with us in simple words, and nailing the best possible messages that way ! I’m amazed at your repertoire of stories !

    • Thank you, Sreeja!
      There are quite a few Vijays around. We don’t notice them because they don’t talk about themselves. There will be many, many more in future as labour in India has not only ceased to be cheap, it has become scarce.
      I have many more real-life stories to share, all with messages. I’m sure each one of us can have her/his own repertoire of stories. All we need to do is look out for stories with open eyes, open ears and an open mind! Life is the best teller of stories with/without messages.

  5. Hats off to Mr. Vijay, he truly showed that the dignity of labor depends not on what you do, but how you do it.

  6. I like it. My Grandma, while relating stories of my Grandpa, often mentioned how he, on the way back home from work, got off at the railway station and helped people carry their luggage. If they offered him money, he quietly took it and gave it to the people waiting for alms outside the station, sometimes with his shirt.

    God bless Vijay.

    Thanks – I am loving your theme for the A to Z!

    • Talk about killing two birds with one stone! The people whose luggage he carried would have been impressed by the ‘well-mannered porter’, while the needy people outside the station would have been thankful for the alms!

      I’m not surprised that a Positivity enthusiast like you is loving my A-Z theme!

  7. Dear PI,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and posting comments.

    I have discovered your blog today and seen the welath of inspiring articles and posts that you have painstakingly created.

    I shall visit this wonderful blog more often 🙂

    Regards,
    Mahesh

  8. If more of us can work for the sake of work and not for the sake of reward, how much better this world would be. Truly heartening to note that people like Vijay exist and abound in society. Thanks for this , Pro!

    • People will “work for the sake of work and not for the sake of reward” if their employers and customers pay them their true worth. Of course, each one of us must make a beginning somewhere.

  9. Pingback: WHAT’S IN A NAME: Vijay – the story | HalfEatenMind

  10. Pingback: Service with a smile! | Proactive Indian

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