It is amazing what you can learn on a short taxi ride.
When we moved to England four years ago I chose, for the first time since I was 16 years old, not to have my own car. The main reason being that I wanted to immerse myself in the English culture and I know that many people use public transportation to get around town. Living in a city with a population of 100,000 people and the 4th largest cathedral in the UK, I felt that it was conducive to walking everywhere that I needed to go on a regular basis. The other things that I needed a car for I could do with Steve when he gets home from work. I do have my UK driving license so I can drive the car it is just that Steve takes it to work every day.
Walking contributes to a healthier lifestyle, getting the exercise that I need every day, it is also better for the environment and it saves the expense of owning and maintaining a car. I have found that the places that I discover, the people that I meet and the stories that I hear far outweigh the few inconveniences of not having my own car.
Having said all of that, there are times when I need to take a taxi and today was one of those times.
After my Doctor’s appointment I stood outside the front of his office shopping bags in hand waiting for the taxi to pick me up to take me uphill to our apartment. The taxi drove up and I opened the door and placed my shopping bags and handbag on the back seat, stepped in and sat down, and as the taxi drove away, the conversation began.
My taxi driver Leo, as they call him, is from Morocco. He hears my American accent and asks me where I am from. I answer, “Southern California.” He replied, “I knew it was an American accent.”. Then he told me that his sister is a doctor living in Texas.
I like to get to know people and hear their stories even if it is just for a few minutes, so I asked him how long he had been driving a taxi. He answered, “Just a few months, it is only a part time job for me.” I then asked him what his other job is. “I work as a chef in a local restaurant here in town.” Steve and I have eaten in many of the local restaurants so I asked him which one. He tells me and I said, “That is one of our favourites.” We then start to compare notes on the changes it has gone through since the owner passed away and the manager, a friend of both of us, has left.
We both agreed that it just isn’t the same.
We then arrived at my apartment, I paid him the fare and he said that it was nice to meet me and I said “We will see you at the restaurant for dinner.” I smiled as he drove off to his next client.
It just goes to show that we live in a city with a close community where everyone seems to know someone that you know.