Once, I was on a visit of Malaysia along with my wife. The visit was in connection with a conference on security and the venue was Penang. It is a beautiful island and a popular tourist destination. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and went around the whole island. During the course of our stay at Penang, I hired a taxi one day for going around the town for half a day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the two of us. The charges were fixed at 120 ringgits.
This arrangement was made on the previous evening. During dinner when we shared this information with some of the other participants, two of them got interested in joining us. We had no objection to that because it would give us some company as well as help save some ringgits also. When contacted, the taxi driver also had no objection but now demanded 160 ringgits for all the four. We all agreed to this arrangement.
Next morning, the taxi arrived at the hotel five minutes before 9 a.m. and the driver informed me about his arrival. At that time, we were on the breakfast table along with the other two participants who were to join us for the trip. Somehow, we noticed that they were reluctant to join us. My guess was that they had dropped the idea during the night, perhaps on account of the cost involved but were not very forthright about it. Instead of conveying their doubts, they started advising us also to drop the trip. Since no advance had been paid, they also suggested that the driver be made to wait without conveying our decision. For sometime, we tried to convince them about the economy of the trip as well as the embarrassment that would be caused in case of cancellation, but failed. We then decided to go ourselves, even if it meant paying 160 ringgits.
As a result, when my wife and I approached the waiting taxi it was close to 10 a.m. When we told the driver about the difficulty of the other two passengers, he smilingly accepted the situation and agreed to take us on the previous arrangement of 120 ringgits only. This came as a surprise to us, which only increased our respect for him. The driver took us around the tour in a very cordial way and showed no hurry in order to compensate for the delay. Not only this, he worked as our guide also and took us around to many places, which we had not thought of earlier. He also helped us in our shopping as well as in having lunch, which took more time than what we had planned for. All this resulted in delay and when we returned to the hotel, it was 2:30 p.m. It meant that we had delayed him by one and a half hours. I, naturally, felt like paying him more than the agreed amount and offered some extra ringgits. But I was amazed to see his response. He very firmly and politely turned down the offer. Instead, he asked whether we were satisfied with his services, which we obviously were, more than our expectations. Though I could not pay him more money, I certainly gave him a silent salute and also saw a glimpse of nation-building in his gesture.