For 28 years, 8 months, and 12 days, that guy drove taxi. Now, if you were to ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday, I probably couldn’t tell you. But the memory of one fare is so vivid, they will remember it all days in this world.
It was a sunny Monday morning in early 2013. The guy was cruising down Whitefield looking for a customer, but with the beautiful weather, it was kind of slow. Guy had to stop at a traffic light just opposite the City hospital when he spied a well dressed man dashing down the hospital steps. He was hailing the driver.
Just then the light turned green, the driver behind him honked impatiently, and the guy heard cop’s whistle. But he wasn’t about to loose this ride. Finally, the man reached the cab and jumped in. “KIA Airport, please,” he said. “And thanks for waiting”.
Good news, he thought. On Monday morning, KIA is hopping busy and with a little luck, I could get back-to-back fares. That would make my day.
As always, he wondered about his passenger. Was this guy a talker, a mummy, a newspaper reader ? After a few moments, he started a conversation. It began ordinarily enough: “How do you like driving a cab ?”
It was a stock question, and he gave him his stock answer. “It’s OK,” he said. “I make a living and meet interesting people sometimes. But if I could get a job making 6000 INR a week more, I’d take it – just like you would.”
His reply intrigued him. “I would not change jobs if it meant I had to take a cut of a hundred a week.”
I’d never heard anyone say such a thing. “What do you do.?’
“I’m in the neurology department at City Hospital.”
The guy always been curious about people, and has tried to learn what he could from them. Many times during long rides, he’d developed a rapport with his passengers – and quite often received very good advice from accountants, lawyers, and plumbers. Maybe it was that this fellow clearly loved his work; maybe it was just the pleasant mood of a spring morning. But he decided to ask for hos help. They were not far from the airport now, so he plunged ahead.
“Could I ask a big favour of you.?” He didn’t answer .” I have a son, he’s 15, a good kid. He’s doing well in school. We’d like him to go to camp this summer, but he wants a job. But a 15-year-old can’t get hired unless his daddy knows someone who owns a business, and I don’t.” He paused. “Is there any possibility that you might get him some kind of summer job – even if he doesn’t get paid.?”
Doctor still wasn’t talking, and driver was starting to feel foolish for bringing up the subject. Finally, at the ramp to the terminal, he said, “Well, the medical students have a summer research project. Maybe he could fit in. Have him send me his school record.”
Doc fished around his pocket for a card but couldn’t find one. “Do you have any paper ?” he asked.
The guy tore off a piece of brown lunch paper bag, and he scribbled something and paid him. It was the last time he ever saw him.
That evening, sitting around the dining room table with his family, he pulled the scrap from his shirt pocket. “Raju,” he announced proudly, “this could be a summer job for you.” He read it loud: Shekhar Singh, City Hospital.”
His wife: “Is he a doctor.?”
His daughter: “Is he an actor.?”
His son: “Is this a joke.?”
After he nagged, cajoled, yelled, and finally threatened to cut off his allowance, Raju sent off his school report the next morning. The actor jokes continued for a few days, but gradually the incident was forgotten.
Two weeks later, when he arrived home from work, his son was beaming. He handed him a letter addressed to him on richly embossed paper. The letterhead read “Shekhar Singh, MD, Neurologist-in-Chief, City Hospital.” He was to call Dr Singh’s secretary for an interview.
Raju got the job. After working for two weeks as a volunteer, he was paid 2500 INR a week for the rest of the summer.The white lab coat he wore made him feel a lot more important than he really was as he followed Dr Singh around the hospital, doing minor tasks for him.
The following summer, Raju worked at the hospital again, but this time, he was given more responsibility. As high school graduation neared, Dr Singh was kind enough to write letters of recommendation for college. Much to our delight, Raju was accepted at XIME, an Ivy league institution.
He worked at the hospital for a third summer and gradually developed a love of the medical profession. As college graduation approached, Raju applied to medical school, and Dr. Singh again wrote letters assisting to his ability and character.
Raju was admitted to Bangalore Medical College and, after getting his medical degree, did a four-year residency specializing in obstetrics and gynecology (OB_GYN).
Dr. Raju Sharma, the son of taxi driver, became OB_GYN Chief Resident at Presbyterian Medical Center, Bengaluru.
Some might call it fate, and I guess it was. But it shows you that big opportunities can come out of ordinary encounters – even some thing as ordinary taxi ride.
Rightly said “How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it.”
Make every moment count, it can change your life.!!