Society

Meet Sumija, the lone female driver at the Coimbatore Collectorate

Dream big Sumija hopes to one day drive her daughter around, once the child grows up to becomes an IAS officer

Dream big Sumija hopes to one day drive her daughter around, once the child grows up to becomes an IAS officer   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

S Sumija, the only woman driver at the Coimbatore District Collectorate, did not immediately get a vote of confidence from her employers. But all that is in the past

S Sumija is in a hurry. “There is an empty slot in the car shed and I have to park my car before anyone else claims the space,” she says, as she opens the door and turns on the engine of her Ambassador. Sumija has been a driver for the past eight years and is the only woman driver at the Coimbatore District Collectorate. “I never thought of being in this field when I was younger. Looking back, I am surprised at myself.”

Sumija grew up in Chennai before she moved to Coimbatore with her family after completing std XI. “I couldn’t continue my schooling due to financial constrains. I worked in a garment industry for a while and later enrolled for a short-term computer course, which got me a job at a driving school as a clerk.” When a vacancy for a female instructor opened up, Sumija enrolled for driving classes and began teaching. “For the first year, the owner was not confident and would accompany me. I worked for five years and resigned after my daughter’s birth.”

Meet Sumija, the lone female driver at the Coimbatore Collectorate
 

Later she registered her name at the employment exchange office because “many of my friends did it. I did not receive any response and I did not expect any.”So, it came as a surprise when she received an interview letter for the post of a driver at the Tiruppur Collectorate two and a half years later. She did not get that job. But another call, for another interview, turned out differently and she got that job. “I joined the Sulthanpet Block Panchayat in 2011 and drove a Mahindra Bolero,” recalls the 36-year-old.

The initial days were not easy, says Sumija. Her family was not sure if she had done the right thing. “No other woman in her family had worked as a driver. But my mother-in-law, who was also working, supported me.”On her first day at work, “the officer I was to drive for was not convinced about my driving skills and asked another driver to join us.” Sumija worked there for three and a half years before she was transferred to Madukkarai Block Panchayat. She joined the Coimbatore Collectorate 10 months ago, and now drives for the district planning officer. “I drive around 80 kilometres everyday now. When there are meetings and inspections, I also drive to Valparai and Ooty.”Sumija has two dreams. “Firstly, I want to buy a car, preferably an SUV. I am saving money for that. Secondly, I want my child to be an IAS officer when she grows up and be her driver,” she smiles.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 8:31:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/ssumija-has-been-a-driver-for-the-past-eight-years-and-is-the-only-female-driver-at-the-coimbatore-district-collectorate/article27093726.ece

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