The missed bus trip

Trip distance: 13.35km Earnings:666 LKR

It was a weekday and I had taken the day off as I had to attend to some personal matter in the early afternoon and had to run some errands in the morning. I decided to take a few rides in between.

This was the second passenger for the day. I looked at the distance I had to drive to pick the person up. It showed slightly over 1km. "This better be good," I told my self.

As I approached the pick up location, I realised that it is a pretty narrow alleyway that I can't stay parked for long. I called the passenger.

"Good morning, I am your Uber driver."
"Ah, good morning, you are here?" it was a female who answered.
"Yes Madam"
"Ah ok I will comedown in a few minutes, can you go forward and park? There may not be much space"
"Sure Madam," I replied. At least this was a sensible customer.

I waited for a few mins to pick up. It was already few minutes on the waiting charges when finally my passenger and a friend turned up.

"We need to go to Colombo Fort, but we need to stop at a supermarket on the way."
"Sure Madam, no problem," I said as I rolled off.

Few minutes later we stopped at a supermarket. The main passenger got out. I got in to a chat with the friend. There was quite a bit of luggage at the back.

"You are going on a trip sir?"
"Ah no no, not a trip. I'm just going to drop her off. She's going back home. We are studying together at the university." 
"Ah ok, do you know if she is going to take the train or something? Do you know the time she is supposed to be there?"
"Ah not the train machan. She's going to take the bus. Bus is leaving at 12:10, so..." I looked at the map, the ETA was at 11:58 AM.
"I think sir you are just going to make it. This says 11:58. You are sure it is at 12:10 right?"
"Yes yes that should be fine."

We spent talking a little bit more until his friend came back. I was getting slightly nervous by now. What if we miss the bus? Google Maps can have an error margin of 5-10 mins. About 5 mins later my customer came back. I drove off to the drop off point.

Half way through, we came to stop at a traffic light. There was a bit more traffic than usual. I looked at the ETA again. It showed slightly past 12:00.
"Madam, it's going to be a little bit past twelve when we get there," I told her, just to keep her informed.
"Ah ok," came the reply. And then I could hear a bit of a panic.
"Wait, the bus is leaving at 12:00. We can't get late than 12:00"
I tried to concentrate on the road and the traffic.
"Erm Madam, sir said it's at 12:10?"
"Yes darling it was at 12:10 no?"
"No no, it's at 12:00!"

A few more conversations went at the back of the car. I could hear her calling someone.

"Here, it is at 12:00," the male friend now replied.
"Sir, we are going to be late than 12:00," I told him. We were still quite far from destination.
"No no, we'll try somehow"

I've always been amazed at the ability of people to deny the truth right in their face.
"I don't think we can make it on time Sir," I said, trying my best to hint at them that they should look for an alternative.
We drove for another few minutes. Apparently, now it was the time for the friend to panic.

"You should take that other road no, this road is too far"
"Usually it is Sir, but this is what Google Maps shows as the shorter route," I unplugged the phone and passed it back to them. "The other route says that it is 5 minutes or something longer."
There was a bit of a pause and he handed the phone back to me.
"You could go a bit fast no?" This really pushed me beyond the limit. I tried my best to keep calm.
"Sir let me put it this way. It usually takes about 1 hr to get from where you are to Colombo Fort. I came there around 10:50. There was more than a 5 minute delay, it should be on your Uber receipt. You can see it when we end the trip, there will be a waiting charge. Then we spent some more time at the supermarket," I paused. May be I was getting a bit too angry at this. "What I'm saying is Sir, at the best of times, we would've barely made it to the place at 12:00. This is why I asked you also. And I've been doing this for a while now, so I know we won't get there by 12:00."
"Yeah, it's ok what to do now," Thankfully the the lady interfered.
"Madam, may I suggest something? Do you have the number of the depot? Can you call and ask exactly when the bus is?"
"No, I have the number of the bus also, let me call them."

We drove a bit more as she tried to confirm with the bus whether she could make it on time. It was quite apparent that it wasn't going to happen. Unfortunately the route of the bus was away from us, that there wasn't a way of rendezvousing with it after it left. The conversation in the car became much more muted.

As we got close to the drop off point I asked them whether they want to go to their original drop-off or somewhere else. Apparently the next bus was about three hours away. There weren't any trains going that way either. They finally decided to stop near the train station where there were some small restaurants they can buy some lunch.

"Sorry about that Madam, I really wish I could've dropped you off on time."
"No that's ok, what to do. It was our fault no?"
"I don't know Madam, I mean I wouldn't call it a fault. I'm just saying, be a bit careful and plan it well ahead when you have something like this. Because in the roads, there is nothing predictable no? We may have had an accident, traffic, all that..."
"True, true. We were also getting a bit hard on time," the friend replied.

I waved them good bye as they got off and walked away from the car, with one backpack and two bags in their hands. I really wished they didn't have to wait that long for their journey.



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