Coming back from my trip to Hazelton, I had quite the experience in a cab ride home from the airport.
There was rain, darkness, and an airless silence as the driver navigated his way through the very small obscure streets - I had no idea where we were. I always like to start conversations with the drivers by emitting a stupid question that I'm sure every cab driver has heard at least fifty times throughout the day. Today I chose the inane: "So...is this a taxi service that only goes back and forth from the airport?"
cab driver: "yes, yes...just the airport."
Long period of silence ensues. Sometimes, not very often, cab drivers don't feel like chatting, so I usually let conversations drop...but I also like for them to know that I'm interested in any story they want to tell. I continued: "Did you have a busy day?"
c d: "well...this job...is not so easy. I wait in the lot sometimes for two...two, three hours. Then, I get call to go to airport. And sometimes there not busy...so I wait again. Then they call us to the taxi stand, but when they call, 20 taxis drive up at a time, sometimes for only two or three people...so I have to wait there again. It's hard...for a short time, I don't mind....but this...this is not a real job. Not for long."
chee: "oh dear, how long have you been doing this?"
c d: "I did this for a little while, and then I had a real job last year, so I stopped. Then they had no more work after November, so I do this again. *sigh*"
chee: (*dismayed hm*)
c d: "Life was good where I'm from...have big house, no worries..."
chee: "Oh, why did you leave?"
c d: "I leave because I don't like the way they treat women, I want equality, I want to choose the government..." he continues weaving in and out of tiny streets, revealing that he has lived here for eight years now, that he had no choice in where to stay, it was settled by the UN. Before coming here, he wandered through several European countries for many years.
"...I left when I was young. Look at me now, because of what I believe in, I suffered, I never have a home...I wasted so much of my life." At this moment, he looked at me in the rear view mirror, my heart broke a little bit, and he didn't notice that our vehicle barely made it through the intersection on an amber just turning red traffic light.
chee: "sorry to interupt...but you have to turn right at the next intersection. Sorry, please go on."
c d: "oh, I know, I know...see? my turning light is on."
chee: "thank you"
c d: "Ok, so...what do you think of the world?"
chee: "oh...uh, the world?....oh geez. Uh...well...I think it is...immobilizing, when I think of all the suffering in this world, and so much seems unjust. But I like to think that everything will somehow balance out eventually. Mmmmm...we can only try to make the best of every situation and try our best to understand how the universe works."
c d: "yes, beliefs that encourage you to have an open mind and gain wisdom is what I like too" In the tiny rearview, I saw the furrow in his brow disappear.
We pulled up in front of my house, even though the rain poured down, he climbed out of the cab to shake hands with me.