Taxi drivers

NYC shiftedI like talking with taxi drivers.

Over the years, I’ve found most to be interesting, or at least entertaining. They’re short stories from the concrete jungle.

Comedians joke about the immigrant taxi drivers. But immigrants usually have interesting stories or takes on the world.

Just in the US, I’ve chatted with Pakistani, Ethiopian, Irish, Guatemalan, Russian, Bangladeshi drivers, and others who aren’t coming to mind. Most were happy to have been engaged and getting to tell some of their story to an interested stranger.

You can’t judge a trail just by looking at its entrance.

One time a taxi driver in San Francisco told his story of being an uneducated teenaged father in Guatemala with a sick daughter whose head “bent over like a chicken’s neck.” He didn’t understand what the ailment was. Sneaking to the US and working as a construction laborer, he paid for his daughter’s treatment. She’s now in medical school in the States. And he and his family became citizens.

Occasionally they’re very up to date on what’s going on in the world. One Irish taxi driver made money by betting on the outcomes of political situations all over the world, he had a degree in economics and a keen insight on people.

Talking doesn’t automatically include the right to be taken seriously. One Russian taxi driver carried on about how great Putin is, and why Russians need an iron-fisted ruler. OK, whatever, no need to believe him, but he was passionate about it.

Occasionally a taxi driver can be professorial. On a long drive to the NYC airport, an Indian driver broke down the differences between Shite and Sunni Muslims. We had asked him about it. He was like an interesting college professor. Maybe he was.

Striking up a conversation may take you to new place, while you’re on the way to a new place in a taxi.