Conversations in Taxis
In an age with icky small-talk taking up valuable space, sometimes we find depth and meaning in the most unlikely of places. And sometimes…the very opposite.
A few weeks ago, as soon as I entered an Uber in Nairobi, the driver told me “I already know this is going to be great ride because you have such a high rating for a woman in Nairobi”. I was taken aback a little, but I took it in stride and asked him why it was that strange. He proceeded to tell me about the strange breed of people he has come across in his time as an Uber driver and how, as much as the rider is concerned about what kind of driver they will get, the driver is just as concerned.
It makes perfect sense. Because for the duration of the ride, however long, you are trapped in this moving metal box with a stranger — both as a driver and rider.
I have had some amazing and excruciating experiences in taxis over the last few years and have often reflected on this strange relationship.
For people who know me, know that I probably share too much about myself and can be overly social. However, I am also paradoxically socially anxious and can shut down completely in certain situations.
Basically, my social interactions in taxi, became by way of meeting new people in a setting that was short-term and didn’t have to carry the burden of continuation and maintenance of the relationship.
On one hand, I have had the frickin worst experiences where I misjudged the situation and was friendlier than I should have been (I hate that guys don’t have to think that much about this; it carries a completely different significance as a female).
Seriously, once, I was sitting at the back and when the driver found out, through our conversation that I had an Indian background, he stopped the car of the side of the road. Yup. Since he absolutely had to have the opportunity to sit next to me. I was super uncomfortable, but there wasn’t that much that could be done to avoid the situation.
I tried to make sure I never used this person again, but I had the bad luck of getting this same driver on a really early morning trip when I was headed to the airport.
What are the chances?
Another time, I had a seriously thought-provoking discussion where I was asked if I would marry someone of another race and it got pretty intense and deep because I started to question what I believed in versus what I thought was expected of me and had to questions myself. I was wowed at how we could be having such a conversation when we had just met…until this guy (the driver) asked if he could marry me, before dropping me off at my destination.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Another one of my memorable experiences, a more positive one, was when I met a really inspirational guy by chance. He was a much older man and he started to tell me about how he started driving a taxi and what he used to do before. It turns out that he used to work for a major company in a prestigious position, but that company had serious health and safety issues when it came to its workers. He described how he took the company to court after nothing else worked…and actually WON! I was so amazed.
This incredible person now works on helping people in non-mainstream jobs unionize for better pay and working rights and drives the taxi in the mean-time to cover expenses.
All in all, I have learnt so much about people, whether negative of positive, through my experiences in different types of taxis. You never know what life brings you, but it’s so important to keep an open mind because the place you least expect could have a gold-mine.
A huge thank you to everyone who has been following my blog! I know I’m not very consistent, but I’m trying to be. Thanks for your support!