Updated: Sep 25, 2019
It was Friday night, 11:45 pm. After a late-night dinner with my school friends, and an evening of sharing childhood memories, it was time to head back home.
It was one of those days when the number of people searching for transport greatly outnumbered the options available! I thought it would be easier if I were to just call an Uber. My hopes were dashed when I saw a 3X surge in pricing! Apparently I was not the only one in a hurry to get back home!
Nevertheless, after almost 20 minutes of trying and three cancellations, I finally connected with a driver. It was a Tata Indigo, 11 minutes away. The driver called. The tone of his voice was not exactly pleasant.
"Where do you want to go?!" , he scowled at me.
I knew where this was leading to. Maybe he wanted to cancel the ride? In the given scenario my immediate response would have been, "You are not supposed to ask me that!" ... But before I could react, I found myself taking a deep breath and asking him, "Khana khaaya?" Wait! What did I just do? Did I just ask him if he had dinner?! ...there was a long pause at his end.
In that moment of silence my mind swept back to another Uber driver, this is one of my friend, Bilal! Actually, Bilal was one of the participants of our Impact program in January this year. While most people take up Impact to lose weight, Bilal had joined the program for an uncommon purpose - to gain weight! Bilal was not just an Uber driver. He was a fresh college grad. He would help his uncle manage their family restaurant business in the mornings. He drove the Uber to earn a few extra bucks so that he could save for money his higher education! It had been 6 months since he had started driving. It was fun initially, however, the erratic and long hours had taken a toll on his health. He had lost a lot of weight and was struggling to get back in shape. In one of the motivational sessions that I had with him, we got to the root cause of his problem! Bilal did not have a fixed time for lunch. And some days he would forget to eat or wouldn't find time to eat. We had to find a solution to it! The solution was not a diet that will help him gain weight, but more of a change in habit patterns. So we mutually agreed on something - Bilal would form a new habit - every day between 1 pm and 2 pm, Bilal would turn off the Uber app, park his car, turn on the music, and enjoy his lunch that he would have packed from home or his uncle's restaurant. Then he would take a power nap or mediate or get some fresh air! And this he would do every single day for 30 days till it became a habit!
6 weeks later, Bilal posted on our Whatsapp group, "Doctor, this is amazing! I have gained 4 kgs! And the best part is now I can work longer and I don't feel tired! Earlier I would feel grumpy at the end of the day! Now I feel happy all day long! The solution was so simple... why did I not think of this before?"
That's so true! They are the 'simple' solutions that often escape our mind ... ... after this brief flashback, my mind came back to the present moment. There was still a silence at the other end. Maybe the Uber driver was trying to figure out my question. After a long pause he said, "Nahin... aur lunch bhi nahin khaya.." This time his tone was soft. I had guessed right. Had it not been for Bilal, I wouldn't have been able to empathize with him.
"It's okay..." I said, "I see that you have had a long day. If my destination is out of the way for you, you can let me know... I will cancel the trip! You need to go home...." "No sir!", he said, "Thank you for asking ... it felt really good! You are very kind! I will drop you home!" I knew exactly what I was going to do in the next 30 min of my cab ride ... There are lots of Uber drivers like Bilal who need to be shown the way. I had just met another one! ;)