“The character of a man is known from his conversations.” – Menander
I jumped into the cab and after giving him the address asked him about his day. Cab drivers usually have a lot of interesting stories. We talked about the recent elections for the European parliament. Since he, like a lot of cab drivers, was of foreign decent I asked him about his views.
After some joking about what it’d be like once all the xenophobic representatives meet I asked him about what he did before he came here.
He used to be a teacher and political writer in Switzerland. He’d been driving a cab here for the past 18 months. I didn’t bother to ask why with a CV like that he’s driving a cab. I’ve seen the downward spiral when people get pigeonholed because of ethnicity.
Nonetheless, he lit up when we started talking about politics, education, technology, history and culture. I mentioned my home town, he knew people who lived there. We talked about how it was a cultural melting pot that had the potential to be a beacon of cultural exchange. He told me about an idea for a festival he wanted to realize. It was exciting!
As he drove up to the cul de sac we rounded off the conversation. I was just about to punch in the tip, but he swiped the screen and said: “Our conversation was enough of a tip. I love exchanging ideas like this!”. I was moved. I thanked him for the great conversation. We shook hands and he drove away with a smile.
Attempts at levity aside, I sincerely wish Aydin the very best. He seems like the type of person who’ll make it. He seemed understanding that it’s just a passing situation and that he’ll get to work with his passions in the not too distant future.
These stories are important because some of us are blessed to experience the kind of “positive bias” I talked about in a previous post.
It’s only through talking with each other and exchanging ideas that we can get past the invisible walls and lines that divide us.
“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” – Jean Rhys