You know son, I work for the embassy

The week had been quite good so far. I had kind of figured out how the drive patterns work and what time of the day and what places in the city have reasonably profitable customers. When I got this booking from one of those areas somewhat quite early in to the night, I thought this was going to be just another routine hire like that.

The gentleman I picked up was quite elderly. However having said that, I am sure that my father is at least two decades older than him, but this one gave off the vibe of being working for a very long time. Unlike many solo male riders, he chose to take the backseat. The trip was about 20km away. A good hire for some Uber drivers because it is a long hire. It was a better hire for me because it went somewhere close to my home.

After a short inquiry of which route to take, we started chatting.

"You know son, I work for the embassy", that's how the conversation started. I managed to contain my groan to one just inside my head.
"Ah that's good sir. I think a lot of Sri Lankans come there no?", I asked feigning partial ignorance. Of course, a lot of Sri Lankans visited that embassy.
"Yes yes. Many people come. Sometimes they think we don't help them and all that. But this is not true. We have to follow a process", he went on with a few more complaints. I decided to just passively agree.

After a few more minutes it was his turn to ask questions from me.
"So you run this everyday son?"
"No not everyday. I have a full time job..."
"Ah so you do this part time? Good good. You know it is only in this country that people feel this is an inferior job. In other countries, this is a perfectly normal thing to do."  I nodded in agreement. Yes, in Sri Lanka there is a certain stigma attached to what an acceptable job for a educated person is. But I think, it is a common theme across South Asia.
"You know both of my sons are now working abroad. They of course studied well and got jobs there."
"Ah that's good sir. Where are they now?"  I asked just to keep the conversation going. Turned out that they are now in the same country as the embassy he was working for was from.
"So where did you study son?"
"Ah sir I went to the university", I replied with the university I attended to. As like in most of these cases (as I came to realise later and enjoy very much), that put an immediate pause to the conversation.
"Ah ok. So you are still doing this part time no? Yes it is not easy living these days with all the costs", I decided to just nod.
"You know you should think about migrating. You can earn a lot more there."
"Yes sir, I guess. But I don't know if it is really a lot after you take away the expenses..."
"Of course it's a lot", he said scoffing. "My sons are doing really well. They've bought new cars and houses and all that. Let me know if you need any help." 

About a half an hour of conversing about his birthplace, his school and his children we came close to the big town that is nearest to his place. By this time, the customer has got quite friendly with me and the chat had got a little more light.

"Son, there is a market on to your left. Can you stop there for a moment I need to buy some stuff for home. You know it's not like in all these supermarkets. Very cheap there."
I looked for a place to park the car.
"Son now I need a little favour now."
"Sure sir, what can I do?", I thought as some customers he will ask me to wait for a while. While Uber doesn't charge the riders for wait times and is extremely unfair for the driver, I entertain it somewhat if the time stopped is not unreasonable.
"Son, I have to buy some things for home. Can you give me cash? Don't worry, I will pay you with your hire fee."
I looked back at him and tried to read his face. He was utter serious. Yes, this would be another ride that I will not forget.


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