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Updated: March 21, 2013 18:52 IST

For a smooth drive

SOORAJ RAJMOHAN
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The facility to pick up and drop off clients who consider themselves too inebriated to drive safely has turned into a lifesaver for bar patrons
The Hindu The facility to pick up and drop off clients who consider themselves too inebriated to drive safely has turned into a lifesaver for bar patrons

Youngsters in the city have found that working as pick-up and part-time drivers an easy way to fatten their wallets

Having a drink with friends on Friday night is considered a good way to blow off steam and wind down for the weekend, but this leisure activity can be a logistical problem if one of them is not willing to be the designated driver and abstain from the drink. With police cracking down with increasing efficiency on motorists driving under the influence, having a ride home after an evening of merriment has become a priority.

Enter the bar pick up service now offered by many cab services operating in the city. The facility to pick up and drop off clients who consider themselves too inebriated to drive safely has turned into a lifesaver for bar patrons, and an unexpected source of income for a section of the youth. While still in its early stages, this particular service is quickly gaining popularity with a section of responsible drinkers.

Says Lijo Sebastian, owner of Maria Call Drivers, “There is a demand for late night drop offs nowadays, especially around the weekends. While we only get around ten calls for bar pick ups a month, it is a relatively easy way for part time drivers to make a quick buck to tide over whatever immediate needs they may have.”

Part time drivers are another slowly growing group among the enterprising youngsters in the city. While some choose to try their hand at working in multinational fast food joints, others respond to calls for temporary drivers. Lijo elaborates, “There is definitely a section of youngsters who are willing to undertake such trips. They are usually employees who don’t have to work late hours and have time off in the evenings, enabling them to make anywhere between 250 to 450 rupees for four hours of their time. It is not regular work and most do not stay long, but it serves their needs and ours as well.”

However, part timers are not the only ones who benefit from working as drivers for cab service providers. Preman, who runs Varsha Call Drivers, says that people from Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod districts are on his payroll as full time drivers. “There are a lot of youth in search of employment and this is a good way for them to make money in the city. Besides their regular salary, they are also provided with food and accommodation, and they get to take home money earned from late night trips like bar pick ups, minus a small commission of course,” he says, before adding, “Though there are also some drivers who avoid such trips for their own reasons, and do only regular daytime running.”

There are a couple of funny stories in the mix as well. One such tale was told by a regular user of the service who wished to remain anonymous, “A couple of acquaintances of mine decided to hire a driver before they went for a drink, as the stipulated hire period is four hours anyway. Once they were done, they began the trip home, only to be pulled over by the police, who asked the driver to take a breathalyzer test, which he promptly failed. It came to light later that the driver had got bored waiting for them and gone to an adjoining bar to down a few himself!”

With opportunities arising in the most unlikely of places nowadays, the youngsters of the city do not miss a beat to fatten their wallets. With the potential of making nearly Rs. 500 from a single running (late night drops are charged higher), it is a lucrative source of income. Though some may look down upon it as a menial job, those willing to rise above societal stigma over means of employment may find that it may be just what they require to make ends meet.

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