Auto drivers

I can shout and louder than you!

9:25 PM

Yes a small creature like me has been blessed with the gift of a loud voice. I don't need to use it often but when I do I surely do use it to its full pottential.

Like today...The day started perfectly and well if it wasn't for my cell phone charger, it would have been a quiet day. My charger fried and the need for a new one arose...again (it's the 6th charger that broke here in India, that fact alone is annoying). The shop where I bought the charger is a few kilometers from my place, but I could not just wait until December 31st for DBF to drive me there. So I first walked to the bank, withdrew some money, and then hailed an Auto Rickshaw (Auto for short). One stopped immediately and I  told him I wanted to go to "Ispahani Center". Now I really ask you to remember this because it is important. ISPAHANI Center.
My dear driver said ok with a smile, and since we are in Chennai and that driver are a pain in the butt here (as in won't put the meter on pain in the butt) I first asked how much it would be. Our guy tell me 50 rupees...what??? No way 35! The driver argued that the center is far away. Which had me answering by "Are you kidding? Nungabakam high road is not that far!" Anyway, I ended up agreeing to go to 40 bucks to please him. Nope, he went on 45. So since 45 is what I usually pay, (thanks to my milky white skin) I told him ok and hopped in.
After a little while our guy took a different road, I asked him if it's a shortcut to Ispahani center, he grunted and said that yeah that was the road...I didn't want to argue so I shut up. Auto drivers usually know short cuts well  and they make more money that way. But after a while the road was definitely not looking like anything I knew. But, since he assured me it was the road and considering it's not like Chennai driver would want to take long ways to drive you somewhere I shut up.

10 minutes later, he stopped and said "Here it is Ma'am Chennai Central"! Huh???? When did I actually asked to go to the train station? I replied that I asked for Ispahani Center on Nungabakam High Road. Him to tell me that yes here there it was. 
Me thinking : Ok last time I checked it was a shopping mall. But, hey maybe it was transformed into a train station overnight!. I ended up telling him that, no way, it wasn't the place. Our guy  then proceeded to ask a policeman nearby, telling him that I wanted to go to Ispahani center. After a brief discussion, the driver apologised and head for Nungabakam high road, muttering all the way (I think he was already cursing me but can't tell for sure). 
New stop: "Here we are ma'amm". I looked around, we were in a crappy area instead. So, really angry this time, I told him loud and clear: ISPAHANI CENTER!!!!!!! He informed me that he didn't know the place (couldn't he have spared me and told me so from the start? NOOOOOOO) He asked his way around, and then informed me that the fare will be a 100 rupees!
What???? NO WAY! And I told him so. It wasn't for me to pay for his mistake. He kept screeming while driving,and I told him I was ok for 70! It shut him up, and after 5 min we finally reached my destination. The guy went back on 100.
At that point I was reaching the warning before erruption stage on the anger meter. And, yelled "NO WAY 70 and that's it". He replied that he has to pay for Petrol (gas) and I retort: "I don't give a damn", it was his fault from the start not mine and I'm not going to pay for  more than I offered already. He kept arguing, and I kept saying 70. 
He then said that I told him the wrong place so that I have to pay for it. I told him I never said Chennai central but ISPAHANI CENTER. He wont understand. He then unleashed the sympathy plot, begged please with pleading eyes. HA! That had no shot in hell to work with me! I looked at him straight in the eyes with a look that could kill on the spot. He dug in his pocket and showed me a 20 rupees note. I told him that there was still 10 bucks missing. He goes on pretending he has no money (how would he have paid me on a 100 notes when it was 45?) I told him he was a liar. Then he mubbles about petrol again. Still not my problem (I reached the fatal blow up point a few min from that point). 

Seeing it is not working he pointed out to me that 10 bucks wasn't much for me (ha ha! rich foreigner syndrome sighting!) I told him that it wasn't the point, it wasn't much, but his fare was already wrong and way too much. Our guy played its last card: "I pay your 20 back and invite you for tea!" TEA???? geez I saw him coming immediately. I snapped at him: I'm married (all wrong but hey this is the best man repellant line around here) He went digging lightly in his pocket digging out 50 paise (50 cents). And At that point I was past the point of no return. So not to loose my health on a guy like him, I snatched the 20 bucks from his hand (very violently) threw the 100 bucks at him and said get lost! Then he said something like it's the last time he takes a foreigner, but I was already storming toward the center.

Now of course for him it must be a change not to have a foreigner trying to be nice doing charity, what I did I did it for the sake of the locals. And at first, I cursed the driver, but in the end I started cursing those tourist who think they are doing a nice gesture by tipping double the amount because they converted the price in foreign currency and found out it's little. Little does it occur to the toursits that tipping an Auto driver is not a custom and should not become one...
I actually had to walk furiously for 10 minutes before entering the mobile phone shop, out of fear I would start bitting the innocent salesperson there.


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