“You should be accepting credit cards” I said. “No one carries cash anymore you know, get one of those machines that waiters have?”
The young boy grinned widely. Smiling benignly at my perfectly impossible request. Probably has never seen the inside of a restaurant that takes credit cards.
“How much does it cost ?” I asked pointing at one of the five ‘original’ Blackberry car chargers he was holding up. I am one of those that regularly charge my Blackberry last thing before I sleep, but often forget to turn ‘on’ the main power switch. Don’t you get confused between the US and India, where off is on, and on is off ?
“250 rupees”. Five dollars
‘But I don’t have any cash”, I said ” will take it next time I pass through”. By now the cars behind me are angrily honking away. The lights are about to turn from red to green. You notice in India how people start honking at you before they turn green ?
“No, you take it now, and pay me later when you pass through”
The cars honking increased as I sat there looking straight into his honest eyes. Is he serious ? Not a hint of doubt there.
“How will I find you ?” For we were at a heavy traffic junction where most boys his age and dressed like him are begging.
“Oh, just ask for me, take it and pay me later. My name is Lattoo”. Means a spinning top. But my head was spinning now, this kid was making a sale, and he was gambling on the negotiation like a pro. Could this really be true ?
By now drivers were passing me by and hooting to show their displeasure.
“But what if you are not here when I pass again ?”
” Here, put my mobile number in you Blackberry, just call me”, he said as he handed the Blackberry charger to me.
I had enough charge for that, so quickly did and drove away before the lights turned red.
The whole transaction took about a minute in which Lattoo made a quick risk assessment against potential return. And no, he did not recognize me. In that time he told me he bought the charger for Rs 250, but I insisted he told me the truth so he admitted to Rs 230.
Given that I have spent the whole of yesterday and last night with my lawyers going through reams of contracts from executives covering every possible eventuality in a transaction, I was amazed at the trust a street urchin put in a transaction.
I am flying to London tomorrow. My office has Lattoo’s no, and Rs 500 to give him. He deserves it. When I come back I am going to call him and invest Rs 5000 in him and show him the same trust he showed in me. For he showed true entreprenuership at grass root level.
And yes, the charger works !