Considered male bastion, Gurgaon-Faridabad toll plaza now workplace for 18 women toll attendants
When it comes to breaking barriers, no one does it better than women. The latest one to be broken is the male bastion at the Gurgaon Faridabad plaza.
For the first time, 18 women attendants have been engaged to man, or in this case, “woman” the booths from 7am to 3pm six days a week.
The first batch of women began working at the Gurgaon-Faridabad Toll plaza two months ago and they evoke all sorts of reactions from commuters who pass through the plaza.
Asked why they decided to employ women as attendants at the Gurgaon-Faridabad toll, an official from the toll company said a plaza with 25 women attendands has been running successfully near Agra for the past three years. The company decided to the implement the same at this toll plaza too.
“People expect male attendants but when they see us they are a little surprised. They say ‘Yeh lo bhaiya (Take this, brother)’, and then say, ‘sorry we didn’t know it’d be a woman’. Many people smile when they see us. Some give us compliments, ‘You are doing a good job’. A lot of positive reactions have come from police and army personnel. They always have nice things to say to us,” says Maniha, an attendant.
Some drivers are abusive
Twenty-three-year-old Marisha from Faridabad says this the first time she has worked as an attendant. “I had a data entry job previously. There have been instances when truck drivers while waiting for change have used abusive language. If anyone gives a Rs 2,000 note, we have to see if it is authentic and sometimes we are short of change and have to go to a different booth to get it. Some start shouting thinking, because it is a woman, it is taking time. But, I handle the situation calmly, and assure them that they will get a better service next time. If people shout, we try to explain in a polite manner. Stooping to their level will only spoil our reputation.”
Difficult to convince parents
Another attendant who did not wished to be named said, “People say that the job is not suitable for women. But it’s been a month since we started on the job and we are enjoying our work. The staff is very supportive. We are well taken care of by our company. I believe that everything should be experienced at least once; hence I opted to do this job. The timings also suit us, had it been in the evening hours, no woman would have come forward.”
For 19-year-old Shweta, getting her parents to agree to her working at the plaza was tough. “My father was against it. The area surrounding the plaza has a bad reputation. He reminded me of a murder of a toll attendant a few years ago.”
Shweta adds, “When he learnt that we would be accompanied by a woman shift in-charge, he felt relieved. But, he often passes by to see if I am doing all right. I wanted to learn and was confident I’d be able to manage it. Some people say we run the lanes faster than the boys. Kahi log bolte hai change toh rakha karo,phir bolte hai chalo kya bole, aur chale jaate hai. (Some people ask us to keep the change handy, but then don’t squabble much).”
Asked if there had been any untoward incident, or if anyone pass lewd comments at them, she adds, “There is no time to for conversations, as people are often in a hurry and traffic starts building up. In case there is an emergency, we have a lane assistant to report it to.”