Archive for March, 2008

March 11, 2008

Oh…the people you meet.


It took me 10 minutes to get a taxi from Friendship Heights to Adams Morgan last week but I was on my way to Habana Village so obviously I was in a good mood. I have a (possibly annoying) habit of engaging people in conversation when I am alone with them but more often than not, I’m glad that I did.

My taxi driver held a bachelors degree in economics from a well-renowned university in Uganda. Why am I surprised? Who ever said that all taxi drivers were uneducated…it’s all about circumstances. Anyways, he came to this country and nobody would take his degree so he basically had to start all over again. He goes to nursing school during the day and drives cabs at night. He has been robbed, held up at gunpoint, been ripped off, harassed, and continues to fear for his life on a daily basis. He does not pick up male patrons at night because he has been robbed one too many times. He keeps his textbooks in the trunk of his taxi in case there is ever a lull. And I sat there as he told me his story on the way to a night out with friends. My $50 bill felt heavy in my hand and I wanted to pay him $50 for my $12 ride, but I was afraid it would have been taken as a gesture of pity. But it was not pity I felt for this man whose name I didn’t even know…it was sheer admiration. He can only afford to go to school part time because he is paying for it himself. He told me how some of his patrons are downright disrespectful, racist, and nasty and I sat there embarrassed at my “peers” and wondered how people can act so….inhuman. What makes them better than him? We arrived in Adams Morgan, I paid him and he wished me good luck in life and I wished him good luck in his studies…and that was that. He would be driving around into the wee hours of morning trying to make money for school, and I would be dancing the night away with friends. Oh…the people you meet.