I am in India doing research (eating mangoes). I take a rickshaw to work most days. The first few days I was here, I wasn’t sure how much a rickshaw to work should cost so I overpaid. Actually I always overpay because I fail at bargaining, but I used to overpay by a lot.
One of the rickshaw drivers who benefitted from my early ignorance was a 70-year-old man who became one of my favourite people the moment we met. He is old and adorable and sings the entire time he is driving. When cars and motorcycles get too close (they are always too close), he pulls out a rolled up newspaper and swats at them. When we are stopped in traffic for too long, he both honks his rickshaw horn and pulls out another horn like this and starts yelling things in Tamil.
He is the best.
When he realized that he could make infinitely more money off of me than anyone else, he started coming round my place every morning. Once I knew the price I should’ve been paying, I thought to bargain with him.
But I couldn’t do it. He is so old and frail and adorable that I continue to pay twice what I should be paying. He now knows when I leave for work and comes to pick me up every day.
Part of me wants to be angry with him for swindling me. But I can’t. Mostly because I am an enabler. I have even started bringing him bananas for the morning trip.
This is how I go broke. Paying for friends.