Lessons in Rejection From Your Auto Driver
Updated: Apr 2
We’ve survived failing exams. We’ve survived seeing crushes go out with best friends. But no matter how many times you prepare yourself, there’s nothing as heartbreaking as seeing the rickshaw you hailed pass you by in a trail of smoke. There’s nothing as educating either, because with all the rides we’ve been rejected for, we also owe it to all the rickshaw drivers out there for having taught us the art of persuasion.
These are some of the kinds of drivers we’ve seen who have said no in their own ways:
i) The Free Bird(s) - They’re all either reading a newspaper, playing cards with friends, or staring into space, contemplating the meaning of life. But they’re too busy for you. You’re almost convinced there’s a universal schedule where everyone’s agreed to call it a holiday at the exact time you need a ride. And soon after, they end up agreeing to take your street-smart “friend” to the same place. Ross, you weren’t the only one on a break.
ii) Auto Of Your League - One lone auto is coming down the road, bright and yellow. There’s another person next to you who’s waiting for one as well. It’s your daily office ride though, so you reckon as a loyal, friendly customer you’ll get it first. But wait, this other person is dressed enough to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine. And they have an aura that feels like you’re standing next to Oprah and the Queen. The auto slows down, as smooth as an SUV, to a captivating halt - but not for you. Your existence has been overlooked. Bruno Mars, where do we join the ‘wanna be a billionaire’ club?
iii) The “Long Distance Can’t Work” - You’re trying to get home from work, and it’s far enough to be in another state altogether (Hosur* folks, we’re looking at you). You haven’t finished saying your entire address, but it’s already an instant no. All the drivers look at you with pity, because both of you know it won’t happen. You’re calculating the energy it will take you to walk home and write a Grammy nominated song about the pain of long distance. Hey there Delilah, what’s it like in New York City?
iv) The Commitment Issues - After a long process of negotiation, the driver agrees to take you to your destination, at just the price you wanted. Turns out he decided to add in his own terms. He stops by another neighbourhood to finish something he had to do, and you’re waiting so long you’re wondering if you’ll ever step out again. When you start again, he talks about dropping you close to the destination instead of at the spot you agreed on, and now you’re beginning to feel quite a bit cheated. Is this how it works? At any moment now, you swear he’ll go “Main kisi ki zaroorat nahi khwahish banna chahti hoon”. Ae journey hai mushkil, friends.
v) The "No One Understands" - There’s no negotiating out of this one. While the driver doesn’t refuse you a ride, he’s definitely refusing you the right price, and has emotional arguments you can’t quite argue with. Whether it’s pointing out there’s a lot of traffic and that he can’t make it home in time, or that it’s way too early or late in the day, he makes sure you feel guilty about not knowing the obvious. By the end of it, you’re feeling ashamed of yourself for even having asked the proper price, and you’re wondering if you should drive the auto for him instead. Is it too late to say sorry?
The next time you spot an auto or taxi driver employ a standard rejection tactic, stop and think. Take notes. Study the words used. Then agree to find another ride or pay the exorbitant fare they’re charging anyway. After all, there’s no way you can use the same negotiation strategy against them, they’re the ones that taught you!
*For those of you who may not know, Hosur is an industrial area in Tamil Nadu right outside of Bangalore, Karnataka. People travel to and fro between their homes in Hosur and workplaces inside Bangalore on a daily basis.