Thursday, June 7, 2012

Damned Drivers!!

This for all of you who think having maids and drivers make life easier, written by a grumpy me confined to barracks, a prisoner in my own home....well slight exaggeration!!

Shankar quit. Seemed to throw a hissy fit as we didn't pay him for a day he took off "tired". No notice, just decided Monday night that he was done. I have since found out (through a couple of sources) that he is looking for a job nearer to his home and in the most up market gated community where wages are higher. Why he decided to leave at that particular moment seems totally crazy as during the summer some or all of us are in and out of Bangers, coming and going from hither and thither or so it seems. His work is therefore less, and when we are all gone and there is no work, he's still getting paid. Easy to look for another job without losing any money! Also, June is the month of ex-pats leaving while the end of July/Aug is the influx of the new. Therefore lots of jobless drivers throughout the summer.

The world of drivers is more complex than you'd think. For us, language is obviously an important criteria and we still need someone with a good knowledge of the streets of Bangalore. In the immediate vicinity I have my bearings and also know the routes to my frequent haunts. But anywhere else and I have not much of a clue. Needing both the language and the knowledge of Bangalore (= more years experience) pushes the expected salary up and the number of suitable candidates down. Prices are pushed up even higher in some of the other gated communities where most of the population are ex-pats on assignment and their overseas/expat 'package' includes a driver allowance, or the company pays the driver direct.

Anyway Shankar is gone and the search for another driver is under way!

As we have been here eighteen months or so we have good friends and neighbors to help with the logistics of life sans-driver. Our driver-less state had to happen during the last week of school. Ads comes home after the day's exams - not on the bus schedule, so he needs a ride and Wills has certificate presentations, class party and parent/teacher conference where I am supposed to be in attendance, camera battery charged and ready to record the moment.

I email the yahoo groups for the neighborhood and the OWC. Then email/text/call my nearest and dearest in Bangers to ask them to ask their drivers if they know of good, available drivers who speak english. I specifically ask families, who I know are returning home or leaving for new adventures this summer, if their drivers already have new employs.

And then we wait. As the news spreads a couple of drivers in the neighborhood knock at the door. The one already employed by a vista family but looking for a change or more likely a raise gets rejected - can't poach my neighbor's staff.

The driver scheduled to come round last night was a no show. Hopefully tonight will be more promising.

Tonight scheduled to appear to speak with Simon are Gopinath, Shekar, ChandraShekar and name unknown. Fingers crossed! Another driver, P, knocks the door, works in Vista, lives close by, employers moving back to US at the end of the month. This one sounds promising so he also gets a slot.

First driver calls at his allotted time slot to check he is supposed to be coming. So he will obviously be late. When he appears Simon concludes he is only "OK". Next two are great but either live too far away or very close to other gated communities so we conclude we would not be their ideal job and would be liable to be dumped should a more geographically favorable  position arise. While Simon is dealing with theses drivers, I go to the Villa where the Vista driver, P, is currently employed to get the scoop - all good. Driver, P, comes round when he finishes work. Passes the Simon test with flying colors, terms and conditions agreed and he starts at the end of the month.

In the meantime, I am enduring cases of severe 'auto rick hair' and begging rides from friends and neighbors. On days when I really need a driver (like tomorrow - Ads has his last exam, Wills has parent/teacher conference and a friend coming back from school to play) I have been referred to a site where you can book a driver for a set number of hours and they will arrive to prescribed place at prescribed time, ( Booking has been done on-line. Tomorrow at 7.15am I will comment as to the efficiency of this service!! Whether Simon is safely on his way to work with driver at the wheel and my day will proceed as planned or whether Simon is in the front right hand seat of said car, and I am trying to work out how to get the rest of us where we need to go and home again!!

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Welcome to the world of the middle class Indian housewife. This world is the best business management school on earth. You do personnel management (handling maids, drivers, dhobis), payroll (haggling over raises and loans), HR, CEO without the corner office, you name it. Homemakers in India get so much managerial practice just running a house and the staff associated with it, that it's no surprise when Indian tycoons appoint their moms to the Boards of their Companies (Reliance, etc.) A woman like my mother who has run a household in India for the last 50 years could run a multinational corporation without breaking a sweat. Start polishing up that business school application package, is my advice to you.