Driver woes

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Our driver quit at the end of February. It is very sad and frustrating. All of a sudden a new guy started showing up instead of Srinivas. A guy who spoke little English and slammed on his breaks too hard replaced him. He was nice enough, but no Srinivas.

I don’t think we’ll ever get the full story of why Srinivas left. His boss told us he found a better paying driving job. But then off hand said later that he told another driver that our kids were not sitting properly in the seats and leaving too many food crumbs.  It is hard to have a family in a car that is not hours. Road trips and day to day issues are hard on cars, but when it is not our car it is hard to live comfortably and not show some wear and tear on the car. Like today, as I was getting out of the car, the boss driver told me I needed to please shut the doors more gently on the van. Sigh. I know these cars are their livelihood but it is like walking through a store full of breakables with kids–next to impossible to not have something go wrong if given enough time.  I think we will keep the full time driver for this month and then shift to an as needed basis next month with the kids not in school after the 6th. That will save on costs and reduce the drama of the driver issue. But it will increase the volatility of when a car is available and if the driver knows where to go.

I wonder too if there was a problem with the fact that we actually used the full 12 hours of our time at least a few time a week. The arrangement is that we have the driver for 12 hours and that we pay for 12 hours whether we use them or not. More than 12 hours and we pay more. But the days that we have used the full 12 hours the drivers seemed surprised and a bit annoyed. They act like they have places to go, things to do. Maybe it’s a cultural issue but I just don’t get it. I think part of it is that we are probably not firm enough. Don’t want to offend.

I also often need to go to some strange places. Little schools on dirt roads in the middle of now here. None of our drivers want to be shown a map. They have no patience for a map. They want the village name, the road name, and landmarks. Always landmarks. And then a mobile number when they inevitably get lost. At my last school visit my driver had to stop and ask directions 5 times and finally I got through on the mobile and had the person explain how to find the little place.

To replace Srinivas, the owner of the driver group drove us around until he found another driver who speaks English well. but I think he just gave up trying to find someone good.  The new guy arrived–driver number 6 for us so far. And no, he doesn’t speak English well. And I had to start all over in terms of giving directions for how to get to school, my office, yoga class, our favorite grocery store. I sent him to recharge two cell phones. He came back with only one phone recharged. With six weeks left I just don’t want to have to start over again adjusting a new driver to what we need.

The second day was even worse. I had my friends Kim and Leti visiting from Penn State. We were a half an hour late for yoga because he went to the wrong side of town. Then he tried to take us to the wrong palace for some sightseeing. Then we asked him to take us to Commercial Street. One of the biggest landmarks in Bangalore. He tried to stop at two other streets before we just gave up.

I called the boss man and said that I was not willing to have him drive us again. Next morning, there he was. So I let him drive us to school, but then called a cab for the rest of the day. The boss man came back to drive again for us, but with a huge attitude. Not willing to help us find stores. Not helping to carry packages. Making it very difficult to get trough the day. I finally fired him. He seemed relieved.

We still have six weeks to go. No driver. My friend Vini has graciously offered her second driver while her husband is away. She recommends him, he knows this neighborhood, and he speaks English well.  He is wonderful. He knows the back roads. He is a kind, decent person. I am hoping that this bit of grace will get us through the end of schooling in the first week of April.  With school, we need a driver at 7:30 and again at 2:30 or 3:30, so basically we need full day help. Once the kids are out of school, we can rely on hiring cabs for 4 or 8 our stretches.

I am tired of worrying about transportation!

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