There are no fire drills, no banter in the barracks, and no majors to salute to. Chinnappa owns his work, choses the number of hours he works at and how much he wants to earn.
Meet Chinnappa, a 55 year old, ex army veteran who’s employed as an Uber cab driver in Bangalore under the Uber Fauji programme. Started late last year, Uber Fauji is an initiative by Uber that aims to give employment to ex servicemen.
Chinnappa worked in the Indian army as a Hawaldar and was deployed at several locations and under various army projects until 2013. After 19 long years in the army, Chinappa hung up his service boots and decided to come back to Bangalore to his family and 2 kids. Unable to find a job in a company or a government organization, Chinnappa’s post army life wasn’t easy. After a year of looking for jobs to no avail, he eventually started a taxi service for out of town trips. This was until Uber came along.
Even before the official launch of the Uber Fauji program, Uber got Chinnappa onboard as a driver. And since then there’s been no looking back for the serviceman. “Uber helped me when nobody else did. They took me in, trained me, and helped me get a respectable source of living.”, says Chinappa.
After a socially charged army job, does driving all day, without a boss or a team get too lonely I ask. “My customers keep me company all day. Some of them chit chat, while some of them choose to spend time on their phones instead. Either ways, it’s interesting.”
As is the case with other Uber drivers, Chinnappa believes that Uber enables him to be a master of his own employment. “It is more like my own business, than a job”, says Chinnappa referring to the option of choosing his own timings, days and hours of work with Uber. “While most days I start at 5am, I can choose to wake up at 10am if I want. I end the day at 11, but sometimes I just do an airport trip late night, sleep in the cab and do a drop back in the morning.”, Chinnappa says.
Chinnappa lives with his family of 3 in Bangalore which includes his wife, and two sons – one of whom is studying in the 12th standard while the older one has recently started working with Accenture. “I just want to work enough to secure a good future for my kids and then I’ll just call it a day and move back to my native place Coorg”, he says.
While a 20 year old career in the army may be a far cry from a driving gig with Uber, Chinnappa believes that passion, hard work and a commitment to your employer is the key to doing both justice. “Just like the army, you need discipline to do any job well. I can wake up at 10, or wrap up the day half day, or slack around, but I make sure I’m up at 5 everyday and work at least 10 hours a day, with plenty of rest in between.”
Chinnappa is also all praise for the Uber management and professionalism. “In the last 1.3 years, I have never faced any problem with Uber. My payments are transparent and payouts are timely. The customers too have been nice”, he says.
He may not be at the borders fighting for his country today, but Chinnappa surely helping move his countrymen around and is proud of his work, at that.