Empathy School

I was on the way to church when I noticed an elderly couple standing on the road, trying to get an auto. My auto driver considered picking them up, especially because they still seemed interested. Normally, when people realise that an auto is occupied, they look for another one. Like a snarky smartass, I said: "This isn't a share auto^."

Auto drivers sometimes take in extra passengers as a means of some additional income at the expense of the original passenger's comfort and privacy.

The auto driver started explaining that there aren't many autos in that area, and that the elderly couple were on their way to their Gurudwara. Perhaps he had taken them before.

I've had many auto drivers try to take additional passengers, and I've always disliked calling them out on it. It is just one of those awkward situations that requires some assertiveness.

I immediately felt like a selfish, inconsiderate jerk, and consented. Refusing would have robbed the elderly auto driver of an opportunity to use his profession to serve someone in need and hindered an elderly couple attending what must be one of the highlights of their week.

In the polite conversation that followed, I learnt that they could have asked their children to take them, but they didn't want to have to bother them.

I noticed the lady take out the equivalent of half the fare from her handbag. I tried refusing, but I had give up after she said: "You are like a son to me." There were just way too many different kinds of emotions at this point.

A short while later, we reached the Gurudwara. They got down, and I went on my way to church, humbled.

P.S. A few weeks later, I saw the same elderly couple trying to find an auto. This time I directed the auto to stop and invited them into the auto. Along the way, the lady said: "God must have sent you with an auto for us". Efforts to refuse half the fare were once again unsuccessful.

P.P.S. A few more weeks later, I got to meet them again. It is beginning to feel like we're gonna be traveling together many more times.

^Share Auto: Sometimes Autos take multiple riders with each paying separately. This is usually a good option when there are a large, unrelated number of people travelling to destinations along a common route.