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!