I was off to Coimbatore on a short 3-day vacation last week. Took a private bus from Bangalore as train tickets were sold out. As I settled down in the bus and switched on my mobile radio and slipped into deep thought and waited for the bus to leave, I was suddenly jolted out of my reverie by a loud conversation (in Tamil) between 2 men (inside the bus). I heard the words ‘Coimbatore’ and ‘Trichy’ being uttered repeatedly. I was about to disengage myself from the conversation and get back to my thoughts, when another co-passenger sitting across my seat said (in Tamil) to one of the 2 conversing men – “You can call the travels office in Madivala (the next stop) and ask them to stop the vehicle”. It was then that I understood (based on an extended conversation) that one of the men had to take the bus to Trichy but had got off to buy a bottle of water after leaving his baggage in the bus, only to find that the bus had left when he came back from the shop. He had immediately hopped on to the Coimbatore bus in the hope of chasing the Trichy bus down as the two buses took the same route till a certain point.
The co-passenger who had suggested stopping the vehicle in Madivala pulled out his mobile and said “You can use this to call the office” and then got the travels office number on the ticket, called them up himself and asked them to get the Trichy bus to wait at the next stop thus extricating the person who’d missed the bus from his predicament.
Now, this is a simple incident that one may encounter as many times as one travels. But it made me think about the factors that converted a challenge into a non-issue. One man who was alert and listening to a conversation (unlike me), the same man being kind enough and applying thought to rescue the person with the problem, and finally (mobile) technology coming to the aid of the situation! Do you see the ubiquitous people-process-technology factors here? And all the three factors played an important role in resolving the problem :-)