Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How I Could Improve My Life By Learning From My Commute

Ever wonder how much a software engineer could improve his life, if only he would just open his eyes, and learn from the people the world throws him into contact with - auto drivers, for instance? Think about it.

"Sorry, I cannot code this class. It involves for loops. I don't do loops. Umm, no, not that either... It's too small. I expect a reasonable size... and this one is too big. Nooooooo! I definitely cannot take this bug. I'll have to walk all the way to that cubicle at the end to talk to that chap. Nobody ever goes there. I'll have to walk back alone. Tell you what, double my pay for this month, and I'll do it. :sigh: All right. All right.  Don't take that tone with me. I'll do it, ok? Now, what is it exactly that you want me to do with this class?

"What? What was that again? Implement it as singleton? What is a singleton? A design pattern? I see... The plot thickens. What exactly would a design pattern be? Listen, never mind. Could you just take a seat behind me, and guide me step by step? What am I being paid for? Well, I'd be the one doing the typing... What do you mean, 'How can a guy who claims to have been a developer for 5 years not know what design patterns are?' I've been a developer for 5 years, and I don't know what design patterns are. QED. Bet you feel real stupid now, eh? Ha ha.

"Hey, why's this red thingy coming up here when I try to assign the value of pi to this integer? Rules? Programming involves rules, too? No, I don't do any reading or attend trainings. I have the attention span of a lightning bolt. Erm, what were you saying? You're still on that point, or what? Listen, I think your whole premise that just because I'm a Java developer, I have to know more than 5 keywords is as flawed as can be. What're you on about now? 'Best practices'? Something like etiquette, you mean? - apart from all the "rules" you keep banging on? :sigh: The people I have to deal with to earn my daily bread..."

You think I'm being excessively crabby? Tell me something, do you have to travel by autos on a regular basis? Ever been late to a meeting because the driver decided to block the entire left lane at a traffic signal, when what he wanted to do was go straight, and the traffic cop made him take the left turn, adding 15 minutes to your travel time? Ever had the hair on the back of your neck stand up, because of that neat little turning-around-180-degrees-and-into-oncoming-traffic-in-one-swift-motion-without-looking trick? My project lead once arrived in office in tatters; the victim of one of these. Ever had to endure an auto driver's curses at the transgressions of other drivers, while flouting every traffic rule there is with an audacity that is breathtaking to behold? - the saving grace being that you're finding driving classes tough going, and you think, "Well, if this guy got a license..."

Ever had to go around asking total strangers for change? - because the fare turned out to be 80 bucks, and you gave the driver a 100-buck note, and he demanded you give him exact change, "as you were his first passenger for the day"... When your business involves monetary transactions that go something like (X * 6 + 2) on a very, very regular basis, does it make sense to climb out of your bed in the morning, and straight into your auto, with just a 2-rupee coin in your pocket? Ever been in a tearing hurry, and got into an auto whose driver was sitting reading a newspaper, or twiddling his thumbs, only to stop at a busy petrol station that's barely a minute from the place where the auto was standing?

Ever been asked to pay extra because the place you wanted to go was either too near, or too far, or because the place you got down was about 500 metres from a multiplex, and the poor, exploited auto driver would have to drive those 500 metres to the multiplex all alone until he got a fare (a true story, I swear)? Ever had a driver try to convince you that the fake-looking fare card that has the fare as 10 bucks a kilometre is the new one printed just that morning, after an out-of-the-blue decision to increase fares were taken - also that morning, a few minutes before the card was printed? Or been asked to pay extra just because it's raining and you're getting soaked, and he knows there are no other autos in sight? Ever been new to Pune, and asked to be taken to an address, only to be greeted by a blank stare and an "Eh?" Followed, maybe, by a "Listen, I'll take you there if you tell me the way..."

If you've taken a ride in an auto in Pune more than, oh say, 5 times, I'm willing to bet that you've answered "yes" - and a lot more than just once...

Disclaimer:- The rant above is in no way intended to depict the splendid auto drivers of Pune in bad light, most of whom are fine examples of what upstanding citizens should be. Or maybe it is. So, just to redress the balance, I'll give the example of a former colleague of mine, who broke her leg in a fall on a street, and was sitting on the ground for about 15 minutes - subject to the scrutiny of passers-by, who would look down, extend a look of heartfelt sympathy, and move on - before an auto driver gave her a ride, helped her to the elevator, and took even the fare only on her insistence. Maybe there are more such heartwarming tales out there. In the meantime, I would advice the auto-drivers' association to find this chap and have him stuffed. He belongs in a display case.

1 comment:

blankthinker said...

:D (...pause...) :D :D