Empathy: The Cab Driver


The moment I got the call from the driver after booking the cab, I knew there was something different. The command on language, politeness in expression – everything was different.

As I entered the cab, I was welcomed with warmth. When he started the trip by following the GPS, I realised my mistake of entering a wrong destination. As I showed a little restlessness, he was quick to notice and was ready to go to the right location without any fuss.

We started talking. I could sense the depth of this person by the way he was responding. I wanted to know more about him. So I started asking questions like how long has he been driving the cab, how is the compensation, where is he from and so on. His responses not only stunned me but also elevated his stature in my mind.

It turned out that he was a full time teacher in a school but had taken long leave from his job. To drive a cab? Of course not. His elder daughter had got the opportunity to do ‘articleship’ under one of the top chartered accountants in the city and he did not want her to lose the focus by being alone and fending for herself. He, therefore, shifted his entire family. He wanted to stay with the family for about six months so that they feel comfortably settled.

Then why was he driving a cab? He liked driving and this turned out to be an easy option to keep himself constructively engaged instead of just whiling away his time.

I started wondering about the effort parents make to provide the best to their children. I also felt that this man really had dignity of labour as also respect for time.

In my discussions on empathy, one of the ideas that invariably comes up is to interact with people at various levels. Only then can we understand what is going on in the lives of other people, their challenges, their aspirations and their driving forces. It not only creates awareness about their stories but can also be a healing process.

How do you make an effort to connect with people and know their ‘stories’?

Picture Credit: Internet




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