Monday, November 24, 2008

A Marriage Proposal in a Taxi

I was in the middle of Philadelphia, frantically trying to flag down a taxi. Except for the fact that I was standing at an intersection, I really had no strategy on how to efficiently secure one. I needed to catch my train to NYC! After walking down the same street multiple times, a taxi finally pulled up beside me and offered its services to me. I sat in the front seat, and we zoomed off. A few seconds passed by, and the driver finally mustered the courage to state, "You don't ride in taxis very often." I was not supposed to sit in the front seat because it can potentially put the driver in danger. Oops!

Sitting in the front is so different than in the back. When you're in the back, the plastic barrier between you and the driver makes you talk about the weather, tourist attractions that you happen to pass by, how business is...if even that. In the front, you talk about life. The driver was from Morocco. In Morocco, he used to be a physics and math teacher; but, after coming to the U.S., he could not find a teaching job and had to become a taxi driver to pay his bills. When he is not driving, he spends his time reading physics books. Wow, I became intrigued...

"Can I teach you two lessons that I've learned in life?" Of course I say yes, and he proceeds to share two very simple principles that we've all heard since we were babies:
  1. Don't talk behind anyone's back. Just the day before I complained to a friend about a mutual friend's "immature" behavior...
  2. Don't steal. I thought I was safe from this one until the driver reminded me that you can steal time. Do I Gchat/Facebook a tad too much at work?
The driver explained to me that even though he is not in a situation that he wants to be in, he finds his bliss in life by following the above. Growing up, my dad used to tell me that wherever you are, among three strangers, at least one can teach you something. I'm not sure where he got that probability, but I thought of his words during this very unique encounter.

We were now parked at the train station, and I thanked him for everything. His final words to me were, "If you were Moroccan, I would ask you to marry me." So there you go: my first quasi marriage proposal. The front really is a different place: try it, it's refreshing!