First day on the job

First day on the job

'Akka, both of us are new to this route and we don’t know the roads...'

We all remember our first day on the job, don’t we?

I took public transport back home that day from work. Since I didn’t get a direct bus, I got into a bus that went halfway to my destination. I could take a connecting bus from there. The bus was considerably empty and I seated myself comfortably. The driver was a young and lean man, and the conductor was a young lady.

As the bus started, I showed my pass to the conductor who came to ask for tickets and then got immersed in my book.

Traffic wasn’t bad that day but still the bus moved very slowly. I ignored it initially. Soon, I heard other passengers murmuring about the slow pace, and it got me worried.

Hesitantly, I called the conductor and asked if there was a problem. She tried to avoid the question and gave me a smile. When I persisted, the driver and the conductor looked at each other.

Slowly, she said, “Akka, both of us are new to this route and we don’t know the roads properly to the destination. We are nervous.”

I put my book inside my bag, stood behind the driver and became his navigator. There was an immediate smile and relief on their faces. A few of the passengers too understood the situation and joined in to help.

After a few minutes, when the drive became comfortable and confident, we started talking.

He said it was his first day on the job and his first day in the city. He was a new recruit to the BMTC from Belgaum and had arrived in Bengaluru only the day before.

In the morning, when he reported to duty, he had been given a route that the conductor knew. But in the evening, he was asked to serve this new route.

The conductor also told me that there had been a small accident in the morning that had caused a slight damage to the bus. I couldn’t help but appreciate the driver’s courage.

Slowly and steadily, we reached the last stop. From there, he had to go to the depot, a kilometre away, to park the bus, and then he could call it a day.

Before getting down, I reached into my bag and found two candies. I told him, “Thank you for bringing me safely to my destination. You did very well today,” and gave them the candies with a smile — the least I could do to show my gratitude to them. I could see a small tear-drop in the corner of his eyes. “I will remember this day, Akka,” he said. “Yes, you must, and draw strength from it,” I replied. “Next time when you don’t know the route, please ask the passengers to help.” I said goodbye to them and got down.

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