I think I have probably taken my driver for granted and perhaps I am now paying the price. Shankar has been the other man in my life for over a year now. I see more of him than I ever have of my husband and perhaps sometimes I’m not very easy to be “married to”. He is privy to my happiness, my hurts, my anger, my incredulous thoughts over craziness in this town, my confusion, my sadness, my joy. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s a life long curse, a personal characteristic that I wish I could get a handle on, but never seem to master.
It’s this wonderful trait of mine that I believe caused my driver to start feeling unappreciated and not happy in his position with us. When he would do things “the hard way” or not do something in a timely manner or screw something up, or just maybe do things that would irritate me or cause me to instruct him to do things differently, I caused him to “lose face” and he decided that he was no longer happy in our employ.
So what happened? If I wrote it all down it would just seem ridiculous and in reality it is ridiculous. To us it is ridiculous…..to Shankar, well it was enough that he gave us a month’s notice to find another driver and then the very next day ask for his job back.
I need to back up and tell you that as an expat, who’s company does not allow us to drive our own vehicles, or at the very least strongly suggests that we get a driver here, your driver is the most important person on your staff. The driver will get your husband to work on time, get you to your kids bus stop in one piece, navigate these treacherous roads, pot holes and cows and tuk tuks and whatever else happens to be on the “all way” road. If he is a good driver he will make your life easier and will help you in every single way you can imagine. He will save you money from those trying to over charge you, he will become a good friend to your children, sometimes even playing babysitter, a friend to your friends, he will be your interpreter, he will be a walking information book on India customs, festivals, poojas, he will be your champion, and you may start to consider him as family. John and I would joke that as much time as Shankar and I would spend together on a daily basis he was my “other husband”.
Well my other husband wanted a divorce on Saturday and by Sunday night wanted to get back together. The issues that made him want to leave us have now become bigger issues and somewhat confusing. We find his reasons to be immature and unprofessional and they keep changing every time we discuss. He quit and had us scrambling to try and find a replacement and then after a day of calling potential drivers and interviewing, Shankar came over and told us he made a mistake and did not want to leave us after all.
Dilemma. In a world that is not India (meaning things are just so hard here)…….I think we would understand that people make mistakes and possibly laugh it off and shake hands and say of course you are like family, all is forgiven let’s be family again. But here, the whole saving face issue, knowing that their pride and being right is more important than perhaps their job….makes it difficult to believe that this won’t happen again. There is a trust that develops between you and your staff and once the trust bond that you build gets torn down it is very hard to rebuild. Once someone has “quit you and your family” it is hard not to take it personal, distrust and feelings of betrayal settle in. When there are so many conflicting “reasons” for the initial breakup, it becomes harder and harder to figure out if this “relationship can be saved” or it is just best to move on.
We are emotionally invested in Shankar and his family and thought he was emotionally invested in us. I know some of you are thinking, “Cynthia, what did you do?”. Believe me I have been asking that since Saturday when he resigned but the answers that he gave us had more to do with him and less with me. Therefore leading John and I to think that it might just be better if we part ways as he had requested on Saturday. I am still very confused on what is really going on here as his story keeps changing and in the end, when the trust is gone, it’s over. Right?
Do I sound nonchalant about this? I don’t mean to. It’s all I have thought about since Saturday. And since Sunday night when he changed his mind I have been conflicted on what to do. John is traveling so we told him we would make a decision upon John’s return and in the interim we should all take a step back and think about what is the best course forward.
No matter what we decide, I am sad. Sad because a trust and bond has been broken. Bummed because we trusted him with our child, our lives, our money, we care about him his wife his children, his sister, his brother, their parents. Believe me when I tell you we are generous with our staff and take care of them. Now I worry what will we he do if we don’t agree to let him stay on. What was he planning to do when he decided to quit? I go back and forth, weighing the pros and cons, wondering what is the right thing to do. I don’t want my decision to be based on emotion, I don’t want to bite off my nose to spite my face. You might be wondering if it’s my decision or mine and John’s decision. Yes it’s our decision but my thoughts will be the deciding factor as John and I have always made it clear that while he pays the salary, I’m the boss to our staff as I spend the most time with them and they get their instructions from me.
I’m not going to sleep well even though I don’t have to make a decision tonight. I can sleep on it. Let me sleep on it, I’ll give you an answer in the morning…..or not. But I think we all know which way the wind is blowing.
So…… do you now have that song stuck in your head now?
Baby, baby let me sleep on it….let me sleep on it, I’ll give you an answer in the moooor-or-ning. When are we going karoke?
Wish me luck.