How an autowallah broke my spirit

11th October was not a great day. My new Acer laptop (purchased by my boss just a month ago) was already having all sorts of problems – the charging was taking ages – 5 mins for a mere 1 % ! :O Later, I had found out (at a service centre near my home) that it was a battery problem, and the battery had to be replaced. However, I had to take the laptop to an authorized Acer service centre; for which I didn’t have time because of work – the other option being a technician coming to our office; where the laptop was originally delivered – which was not happening. So, this was an issue that was nagging at the back of my mind; as I would come to realize later.

That day I ended up leaving late, at 6 35 pm instead of 6 pm; as my colleague and my boss had a conference call with a client. Thus it meant I had to get a fast train from Dadar (after taking a slow Western line train from Lower Parel to Dadar), as the slow trains towards Vikhroli would be too crowded. As luck would have it, I was unable to board the 7 07 pm fast to Ambernath that stops at Vikhroli; as there was a mad rush. I then had to skip one more local and finally board a Fast that would stop at Ghatkopar instead of Vikhroli. Once I got down at Ghatkopar, taking a slow local to Vikhroli was out of the question; due to the mad crowd that usually boards at Ghatkopar.

A major issue with the autowallahs at Ghatkopar is that none of them ply with the meter on the shortest route – the route via Kailash Complex/Park Site. The meter autos also don’t use the LBS Marg; they go via the longest route possible – via the highway; thus ending up costing upto Rs.380 (up to Hiranandani, where I stay)! :O At least this was claimed by the autowallah whom I met that day. So, I had no choice but to take the non-metered autos (which, ironically; would ply via Kailash Complex :P)  – in my previous experiences it had cost me Rs.180-200; though once I had made the mistake of gullibly paying Rs.250. Thus, this time when this guy said he would charge Rs.300; I was aghast, and turned away angrily saying that I would not pay more than Rs.200 – it had never cost me more than Rs.200 before.

The guy then tried to pacify me by assuring me that he would be fine If I paid Rs.200 and there was no need to get upset. Relieved, I got in. However, when I got down; I handed over Rs.200, only to find that he asked me to pay Rs.100 more! :O I was furious, and reminded him that he had agreed to collect Rs.200 at the start. He kept making excuses about traffic etc. I then threatened to complain to the police. He nonchalantly replied that I may do what I like! Eventually, he relented and said I can pay Rs.250. After I paid the extra Rs.50; he then tried to cheat me saying I had only paid Rs.150! :O I was horrified and told him plainly that he was trying to cheat me. Eventually I got off the auto and he went away cursing me.

I was already in a very bad mood, and this brazen attempt to cheat me really got my goat – I lost my temper completely, and jumped up and down while throwing my bag aside. I ended up creating a scene and breaking one of the lenses of my spectacles! :O One of the passer-bys asked me what happened and if I was alright. I told him that my spectacles had fallen off , and he picked it up and gave it to me; and pointed out that it was broken. He again asked me what had happened, and I blurted out that an autowallah had cheated me; and exclaimed that I hated Mumbai!

I then made the mistake of going to the ATM instead of heading home straightaway. I went inside and then the door opened – I had apparently missed out (due to my frenzied mood) that there was already a queue waiting outside! A guy protested that I was trying to withdraw money without standing in a proper queue. He was probably right to protest, but that only increased my already boiling temper. I was beyond caring by then; and threw my spectacles on the ground; thus breaking them completely! :O To add insult to injury, I slipped and fell – to my self-hating and insane self; it looked like the people in the queue were laughing at me! I shouted at them, daring them to laugh; and also used the f-word.

Thus, in one crazy evening; I had managed to destroy an expensive spectacles purchased only 2.5 years ago (which, though; had already undergone a few transformations and repairs due to my famously cavalier handling :P) and also created a ruckus in front of everyone. My behaviour was, in part; due to the multiple personalities in me, which reacted in different ways to every situation, as mentioned in this earlier blog post of mine: . Here, undoubtedly; the Severus part came out in the open; after having mellowed down over the last few months.

These parts, by the way; are not typical of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (or autism in general); but have developed due to various circumstances or events- which were created by the manner in which an Aspie like me approached every situation in life. The Ron part then felt that I was incapable of handling my anger management issues; and probably needed to increase my dosage of medication. However, after having a heart-to-heart talk with my mother; I felt somewhat better. She explained to me that this situation could have been avoided, had I mentally accepted that I was going to pay extra for the auto (because of my getting down at Ghatkopar instead of Vikhroli; where I would have got a regular auto with metre costing around Rs.60-65).

She also said that I should have taken it as a psychological victory, that I had ended up paying Rs.250 instead of Rs.300. My mother also was very understanding of this behaviour of mine n the whole; saying that it was avoidable but understandable all the same; and that I definitely did not need an increase in my medication dosage; but the level would probably remain the same, though it may not decrease for a while. She also told me to keep in mind these points and be mentally prepared to pay extra whenever I could not take a fast local that stopped at Vikhroli. As for the ATM, she felt (rightly) that it was unnecessary to go there when I was in such a mood; and that I could have asked for money at home instead. However, I didn’t want to be dependent on my parents for  extra cash; instead preferring to withdraw from my account in the bank.

All in all, it was a learning experience for me; albeit brutally! This is also one of the reasons why I still need counselling, though I have made progress in many aspects; thanks to the blogging and poems (by the way, blogging was also a suggestion of my counsellor 😉 ) I feel this should also be a lesson for people in Mumbai – beware of autowallahs at Ghatkopar station! They would put even the exorbitantly charging and non-metered autowallahs of Chennai to shame!

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