I travel quite a bit and I am in probably a dozen different taxi cabs a month. I love taxi drivers…almost universally. What I love about them is their honesty. If you ask a driver his opinion (I have only had ONE female driver, ever!) you will get his REAL answer. They are almost always an immigrant and they have an incredible work ethic.
Here are some answers to questions I have asked:
Me: How do you like driving a cab?
Taxi Cab Driver: It’s fine as long as I don’t pick up the drunk ones late at night.
Me: Are people nice to you?
TCD: Yes! People are for the most part really nice, except for the occasional drunk ones.
Me: Do you like driving a cab?
TCD: Oh yes, I do like it when it is busy and I get people like you in my cab. I don’t like working the late shift and having to deal with the drunk people.
It pretty much goes like that, and bravo to the “drunk ones” who have paid for a taxi ride home instead of driving…please just remember to be nice!
However on one taxi cab drive from our hotel in Brisbane, Australia to the airport, the dialogue went a little differently. The cab pulled up to the hotel, and it was hot. This cute guy about 5”5” hops out and hoists the 50+ bags up into the “boot” of the cab effortlessly. His big grin said “no big deal!” We jumped in, Tom in the front and me in the back. It was a twenty minute drive to the airport.
Tom: How is your day going?
Driver: A little slow, I was happy to get this fare!
Me: Do you drive a cab full time?
Driver: Yes but I am also going to nursing school.
Me: Do you have kids, are you married?
Driver: Oh yes, I am so happy because I have two children, a boy and girl and my wife is pregnant right now. But she is so sick this time with morning sickness, it makes me worried. But I am so so blessed in my life.
Tom: Oh that’s awesome! Where are you from?
Driver: (garbled) Rwanda
Me: Rwanda Tom.
Me: Do you go back home to see your family?
Driver: No, my family is dead. The only reason I would go back is take my son to see where I was born.
Me/Tom: I am so sorry…(my mind was flashing a yellow light, people don’t say DEAD when someone dies of “natural causes, they say “passed away.”)
Driver: You have heard of the genocide? In 1994, all of my family was slaughtered in the genocide. All 24 members of my family were killed except for me, I was a boy, nine years old. My father paid for the killers to shoot him in the head instead of be executed by machete.
Me: (digging kleenex out of my handbag, weeping)
Tom: That is horrible, I am so sorry.
Driver: I spent almost ten years in refuge camps until I was finally able to immigrate to Australia. I love Australia, that is why I am going to nursing school, to be able to give back to this great country, and they pay for my education.
Me: Wow, you are amazing, what a big heart you have.
Driver: I am very blessed. Where are you from?
Tom: The United States
Driver: Yes, I LOVE the United States…TEXAS!!! I want to go to TEXAS!!
Me: (Laughing at his exuberance) Ha, yes, why Texas?
Driver: Joel Osteen, I want to go see Joel Osteen, you know Joel Osteen?
Tom: (the energy much lighter at this point) Of course we know about Joel Osteen! His is awesome! Why do you love Joel Osteen so much?
Driver: He saved my life, brought me hope.
We pulled up to the airport, I asked to see pictures of his wife and kids and he showed me with a huge grin, he was so proud. His name was Ashley, he gave us his card. He jumped out of the cab and once again lifted our bar bell luggage out of the trunk. We all gave each other hugs good bye, and Tom gave him a $100 tip and told him to take good care of his family. He was so happy, he stood there waving good bye until we got inside the terminal.
My heart was touched. I needed to go into the bathroom and sit by myself for a minute. I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness and at the same time amazement at the human spirit. After everything that he had witnessed and experienced in his 30 years, he still felt BLESSED. He still felt joy. He still felt hope. It was a moment I will never forget. The resiliency of the human spirit.
That night I could not sleep. Thinking about this sweet man with the huge smile…and Joel Osteen. The next day Tom and I both shared with each other how he had affected us and we decided to pay it forward. We decided that we would pay for Ashley to go see Joel Osteen, and his wife if she could make the journey. Not only that, we now have made contact with people who know Pastor Osteen in Houston and we will be able to have Ashley meet him personally. That is what it is all about, true human connection. Heart to heart. What an incredible man you are Ashley from Rwanda. I love taxi cab drivers.
let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. -Rumi
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