Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Learning from a Car Breakdown

Today was a very important day. A Monday, there was this meeting with our Director Mr Ram Kumar, which made me get ready earlier than usual. Though a normal meeting where my role was more of 'downloading' what our director had to say, there was still an air of anticipation which made me even miss my regular breakfast of eggs and parathas. I had planned to travel by the local train, which would give me at least an hour in office before the meeting.

 As I gave that last bit of extra shine to my shoes  and prepared to leave, my wife Harpreet requested, " I have this packet to be given to Rajesh, who is on his already on his way to office and will pass by. Why don't you hand it to him? It will save me the effort." Not wanting to complicate matters further, I grudgingly took the packet and quickly made my way to the crossing.

Within a minute Rajesh (our family friend) also reached. I smiled and waved, indicating him to open the door. He offered me to sit and I reciprocated, claiming my 5 minutes to reach the station faster. As we moved ahead, his car gave a sputter and slowly lost throttle. 'Heck, this is the second time I have done it, this week', he exclaimed, and requested me to proceed while he figured his next move. 'It doesn't happen this way, don't worry, I have plenty of cushion time' was all I said, and I could sense a lot of relief in him.

With the thought of pushing the car being not even considered by any one of us, we both walked up to the gas station hoping to find a way to get diesel in a container only to find out that they did not have any container available. Suddenly I remembered there being some spare parts and scrap dealers across the road who could be having one.

Our probing visit across the road was fruitful, as we found a 10 liter can outside a locked shop. After intimating a few onlookers, we 'borrowed' the can and got it filled up. As Rajesh was getting the diesel filled, the owner of the can caught up and inquired what was the problem, and got satisfied after being assured that the can would be returned immediately.

 Managing to finally get the car started, Rajesh offered to drop me at the next auto rickshaw stop. He expressed his desire to drive back to return the can. Realizing that even he was getting late for office, I suggested that he return the same on his way back in the evening."No, Navinder, I have to return this now." I got off and took the first available auto and we wished each other a great week ahead.

Now for the learnings: -
  1. Be flexible and allow sudden events to take their time. No point stressing over situations you cannot help. Neither the job of handing over the packet, nor the car running out of gas was foreseen. Any signs of stress can impact relationships big time.
  2. Never ever leave someone in lurch, even at the cost of your impending plans. What you will gain in those times of difficulty sharing will surpass other opportunities. Dependability is a great attribute that builds confidence of others in you.
  3. Keep your promises, however small they appear.  Small demonstrations of your intent build character over a period of time. Character builds trust.