Friday, May 10, 2013

Fair is fair?

On the 8th of May around 11am in the morning under the burning glare of the sun in a weather with a mere 9% humidity I decided to walk to a photocopy shop located at a distance of about 500m from my college. After waiting for about 20min at the shop I was all set to go home. The rickshaw-wallah’s however demanded no less than 30Rs for taking me to the metro station. The rate from my college to the metro station is 20Rs and paying 10Rs extra for a mere 500m seemed unfair. It didn’t pinch my pocket but math told me that he was quoting a price higher than what he deserved. I tried haggling with the first by telling him that I was a regular and he can’t cheat me – This didn’t go very well. So I approached the next one, on and on until one of them ventured to say that I won’t find anyone who’d take me to the station for a mere 20Rs. Imagine my surprise when after walking 5 steps he stops before me and asks me to sit. As I crossed the distance in my comfortable sawari the 500m somehow seemed more than just that. I started to think that even as I had successfully brought down the price, 20 did seem a little less. Conscience prevailed and I paid him 30Rs with a cheeky and dramatic dialogue to go with it “Next time, take a chance on a man burning under the blazing heat of the sun, and you might just be surprised”.

Was it fair, what I did? And if it was, who was it fair to?
It wasn’t fair to me for in the entire process of haggling I did end up walking 100m, a 100m that the first rickshaw wallah would have covered for me willingly had I accepted to pay him 30Rs. I did pay extra after all that haggling. I did myself a disservice in monetary terms by paying more than the deal (the haggling) had been finalized on. The principle of profit, loss and work invested holds true irrespective of how nominal the sum.

Was it fair to the rickshaw-wallah?
The rickshaw-wallah swallowed his pride, lost his confidence and betrayed his union by agreeing to take me for 10Rs less. His statement “No one will take you for 20Rs” fell flat on his face and in return he received a dialogue from the sahib – “Next time, take a chance on a man burning under the blazing heat of the sun, and you might just be surprised”. Pride, self-esteem, loyalty – lost as opposed to a monetary gain of 10Rs.

Other perspectives
1)     He wouldn’t have gotten any sawari in that time and the 30Rs might just help feed his little daughters – What if he is a drunkard and that money gets him all drunk, beat up his wife and scare the living lights out of children?
2)     Unfair to all of the other rickshaw wallahs who offered the same service – Well, they were rigid and so paid the price
3)     The sum is too meagre – Is it? Is it meagre when the Chief Minister says that 600Rs is enough to feed a family of 5 for a month. Let’s calculate 600/5=120, 120/30=4, 30Rs can hence feed one person for 7 days (4*7=28).

This experience has helped me come to a conclusion but I shall not write it down here. I’d like to know the opinions of those who read it, can you consider any one perspective as absolutely right or wrong? Do you see something else? What do you conclude. Hoping to hear from you J

No comments: