Last night was a particularly boring night of television. Mondays usually are in our house but for exception of Hawaii 5-0, which doesn't have its fall premiere until next week. Enter our entertainment savior, Netflix. M Dubs, selected Conspiracy Theory and I didn't pay too much attention except that the introduction to the movie drug on endlessly with Mel Gibson driving a cab and ranting to each of his riders about everything under the sun. The credits seemed to go on forever and then I realized it was just because this cabbie character of Mel's was just so impossibly annoying.
Then, it occurred to me that some of the most interesting and impressionable conversations in my life have been with cab drivers. It was a very random thought that charged a super-overload of memories. Suddenly, as I tried to organize these thoughts, I was transported back to New Orleans circa 1986.
Now, let it be know that there are actually many stories that could be told about this trip... and the subsequent childhood trips to New Orleans, for that matter. New Orleans + Age 6 = "cultural" overload, if you know what I'm saying. I remember my dad trying to hale a cab out of the French Quarter after dinner one night. As a 6-yeal old, I'm positive that I didn't know the proper or social etiquette for obtaining a ride home but I remember my dad having a particularly hard time finding a cabbie to let us into his car. Finally, after what seemed like forever walking up to each car lined down the side street, a man finally let us into his cab. His car was ragged and smelled of cigarettes. I don't remember what prompted the conversation, but as an adult, I now know that cabbies seem to like to talk. He told us about the recent string of violent cab crimes that the city had fallen victim to the night before. Two cabbies had been murdered and all his fellow drivers were a bit edgy when taking new fares. I remember him saying that one of the guys had been killed for less than 20.00. I think that was my first fall-out with humanity... The first time that I knew that things in the world weren't as pleasant as I might have believed. While you may read this and find it disturbing that my parents placed me in such a situation, I'm actually glad they did. I've known from a very young age that life is precious and can be abruptly and painfully taken away. Let me say it again because it bares repeating, life is precious and can be abruptly and painfully taken away.
A cabbie in Austin told me that he grew up in the circus. You just can't make this stuff up. I mean, really...how many people have you met with this story? Keep Austin weird.
A driver in Paris said he liked my accent. Come on now... I go to Paris and they find my accent appealing. Howdy, y'all!
The Memphis PD acted as our escort back to our hotel late one night when no cabs could be found. That was the first and only time I've ever been in the back seat of a cruiser. To protect and serve...
On a recent trip to Charleston, we came across an Egyptian national who was working his way through the American immigration system. He told us how many thousands of dollars he'd already spent on his citizenship and that his wife and children were still in Egypt. He didn't know if or when they would be able to come to the US. He had a Master's degree and was here driving a cab to send money back to his family.
I suppose that the point to all this is that everyone has a story and it's only as a captive audience that I have really chosen to hear some of them. Perhaps I should take more time to listen to people - as it turns out, they're pretty interesting.