Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Social Theft

'Kitne number hai meter pe?' I asked slightly agitated.
'Mera bhai...aapki bike mein maine 250 ka petrol daala hai, aap befikar raho. (I filled in Rs. 250 worth of petrol in your bike).' replied the chum attendant.

The context of this conversation was one which hundreds if not thousands of unsuspecting residents of Karachi may never encounter unless they choose to cross check the fuel meter at petrol stations.

I am not a social policeman but I lose my temper very quickly when I discover that I am being cheated. The conversation in question happened when I asked for Rs. 250 of petrol to be filled in my bike. I was observing the meter which had a very blurred '.' separator. Nevertheless, when the attendant finished the meter read 2510. The attendant said that this was equivalent to Rs. 251 whereas I believed that it was only Rs. 25.10.

What ensued next was a challenge to him to fuel the next car while I observed. Lo and behold the next customer was a car who had asked for petrol worth Rs. 250. At the end of the filling (which took a considerable amount of time as compared to when my bike was fueled) the meter read 25000. It was at this point I pointed my question to whom I would now like to refer as the chum attendant.

Despite his 'assurance' that 'he was my brother' and that he had put in Rs. 250 worth of fuel (which was evidently not true when I inspected the tank level) he shrugged at me when I demanded the remaining Rs. 225 petrol to be filled in.

He however, referred me to the pump manager who, after hearing my ordeal, decided that 'bhai Rs. 200 ka aur petrol mein dedeta hun (let me fill Rs. 200 worth of petrol more).'

The point was not petrol or the sum of Rs. 225...it was about trust and the reliability of both the fuel attendant and the fuel meter. I do not know who was wrong. Maybe the attendant was right and the fuel meter misbehaved or maybe he had a treaty with the cash collector to pin unsuspecting middle class people (bike owners>>middle class and lower middle class). But in any case, it was a situation I pray that other bikers do not fall prey to. This is the best way to spread awareness amongst the people I know and care for...and that is exactly what I am doing.

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