Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BMTC Diaries: Cool Conductors

It was yet another day when I hurriedly walked to the bus stop at around 6.30 am. I quickly checked my pockets to see if any change is there. Lucky, I have got some change for the tickets. Conductors are an integral part of the BMTC journey, and for any bus journey for that matter. And I think Bangalore is one place where you find a lot of feminine crowd also doing this job.
These conductors in BMTC are very smart. They adopt certain techniques to make more unaccounted moolah!

Technique 1
If you require a ticket for Rs. 3 or 4, and you give a denomination of coins 2 + 1 or 2 + 2, then they will try to strike a ‘deal’ with you if possible. They will return the 1 Re. coin or the 2 Rs. coin to you. The deal is that for a Rs. 3 or 4 tickets you need to pay only Rs.2 and no ticket. He will just return the ‘excess’ amount and walk away as if nothing has happened.

Now, its up to you to feel joyful about the deal that saved Rs. 1 or 2 for you, or worry on if any ticket inspector is on his way from the next stop. Either ways, Mr. Conductor is happy. He has got some (unaccounted) money, and assuming he does it with around 75-100 people per day, he has a decent ‘earning’. Also he is not responsible for people travelling without ticket.

Technique 2
In case you give a currency of 20 or 50 or 100 for a ticket of, say, Rs. 8, and unfortunately you don’t have change to exact amount. The gentleman conductor will scribble the balance in the reverse of the ticket (you get a ticket in case he doesn’t apply the Technique 1 above). Most of the cases he will do it even if he can pay the balance then and there. After all we cannot dig into his purse and check for the balance, right?

Now it is up to your presence of mind that you ask for the balance while you get down. If you missed it, you missed it, that’s it. I think the conductors adopt this because most often people forget (unless one is very much aware and vigilant about the balance that is due, unfortunately I am not one among that gang). So if a balance of 2 or 5 or 10 or whatever is due and you get down, and forget to ask for that, bus would have left by the time you recollect this. If a conductor manages to owe big amounts like this to about 30-40 people per day, and people like me travel in his bus, he can make around 200-300 bucks per day easily. Smart! Isn’t it?

Both these techniques are used widely by conductors, both male and female, and unless we customers are vigilant and smart, they will really take us for a ride in their gigantic bus. By the way, my bus has come and I am careful to hand over the exact change or get the balance promptly even though the conductor is a pretty lady. Oh no, the bus is moving, let me get in..