First World Problems: The Driver Who Can’t Take A Hint


Jul 2, 2015


Article Icon - First World ProblemsFirst World Problems is a weekly advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy at contact@theswaddle.com (confidentially!) if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.


PROBLEM: For eight months, I’ve had an unspoken arrangement with a cab driver: He stops opposite my building at eight am to take me to office every morning. We don’t converse, but I’ve heard about his life through his occasional phone conversations. I know he has a family he supports, who lives far away. I recently got a promotion and switched to ordering an Ola every morning, as it’s nicer, A/C, more comfortable. I feel a little badly about no longer giving the cab driver a steady fare, so I have the Ola pick me up at the same time, but in the gully behind my building. I thought the cab driver would figure it out, but it’s been two weeks, and he still shows up at eight. Should I tell him, or let it alone?

Oh, Tessy. I’m going to call you Tessy ’cause you sound like a Tessy* with your adorable, cabbie-based non-problem and all. But I’m going to help you ’cause, quite frankly, you Tessys need help. In fact, a Buzzfeed listicle already exists on the different types of help you need. No, wait, I’m kidding—don’t check Buzzfeed.

Here’s the thing: This is no doubt an awkward situation, but it’s one you’ve created. Actually, let me rephrase that in Tess-speak: Your relationship with this cabbie has officially reached It’s Complicated. The decent thing to do would be to tell him that you picked an app (and may I also add, quite a flaky one) over his consistent, reliable service, of course. And try not to look into his tired, disappointed, supporting-family-far-far-away cabbie eyes. But, you are Tess; you’d rather wait in a gully to take a cab to work every morning like you’re making some sort of shady transaction than have a straightforward conversation with a person who deserves your honesty. Yet, you also have this compulsive need to come across as a nice person (not be a nice person, mind you), so you write to an advice column hoping to get some kind of bubblegum absolution that only the Internet can give. Except I’m fresh out of absolutions today, so you can either take my tough love and do what you know is the right thing, or you can go whine about what I said to another advice columnist. What is it going to be, Tess? It’s a tough call. Maybe you should ask Siri.

*The good-looking young woman who is used to too much attention, wants to be everyone’s favourite and hasn’t yet learnt to make tough decisions or face consequences because her older, responsible, control-freak sister Jane is always there to clean up after her. How do I know this? I’ve watched 27 Dresses.

PROBLEM: A single friend is dating a woman my husband and I can’t stand. She complains about everything in what I’m sure she imagines is a sophisticated, world-weary way. Every time we meet them, my husband and our friend go off and talk about politics and business, while I have to listen to this woman complain about people we know, places she’s been to, even food she’s eaten! When they first started dating, the four of us had discussed a weekend away together in general terms. Now, months later, she actually wants to plan it. I’ve put her off a couple of times, but she keeps asking. Do I have to spend a whole weekend with her, only because we talked about it once?

Okay, hang on. When you say your husband and this friend (who I’m assuming is a man) “go off and talk about politics and business,” do you mean they go off to the 1960s? I’m sorry, I’m not being snarky. But this is fascinating. I suppose you’re probably from a different generation and want to slap me as I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway: I have only ever seen a social situation like this one on Mad Men, where the men wander away with cigars, looking important and discussing business matters, while the women bitch about the new divorcée in the neighbourhood by whom they are all threatened.

But since this is, in fact 2015, when people struggle to make time even for their closest friends and family, this whole being-a-good-friend martyrdom thing you’re doing makes me want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you up. After force-feeding you half a bottle of tequila. So you can either barf or collapse the minute this good-energy-sucking vampire starts to whine about her crap. Now, I’m a big fan of straightforward conversations, so I would ask you to just tell your friend that he’s ‘dating’ (I love that you are so quaint and 80s. Sigh. Nobody dates anymore; they swipe right.) an energy vampire. But I also know that people need to learn these things for themselves, so I suggest you stick with the tequila plan. The idea is to make the vampire not want to hang out with you. I’m serious! Barf on me once, shame on you. Barf on me twice, I really don’t want to spend a weekend with you. See? You’re welcome.


Written By Judy Balan

Judy Balan is a bestselling author and blogger popular for her quirky, often self-deprecatory humour. She is a self-proclaimed expert at American pop-culture with a sitcom/romcom quote for all of life’s situations. Judy believes that if she’s made you laugh, smile or even snort in the middle of a stressful day, her job here is done. Follow her at her website judybalan.com, on Twitter @judybalan, or on Facebook.


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