My Memorable Cab Ride
For millions of us, we have all had the experience of a cab ride some of which we would rather forget, and others that are remarkable in one way or the other. Such was the case a short time ago when I had to take a cab from the car dealership where my vehicle was being repaired.
The driver of this cab, a man in his late thirties, unshaved with a couple days worth of facial hair, and wearing tatty jeans, picked me up and drove me to my destination. As we rolled along the road, I asked him if he was really busy at this time of the year when the weather was relatively warm and pleasant. I usually like to make at least a fleeting acquaintance with all people no matter where I come upon them and this situation was no different.
I simply asked him how business was? He told me briefly that his business was just fine but the cost of gas was really hurting his bottom line. He went on to explain about various taxes including the difference between Canadian gas prices and just across the US border in Maine where gas was a lot less because of a different tax structure. We then entered into a spirited discussion on a lot of different tax issues, social issues, and got around to discussing the job environment.
He told me that he had difficulty getting another type of work because of his background. Not meaning to pry into his life, I asked simply, “Why is that?”
“I am a con” he said straightforwardly. “People look at my record and then I’m toast”, he complained. “I know I messed up big time but I’ve turned my life around and have been clean for several years”, he went on to explain quietly and without anger. “By the way”, he asked, “what do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?”
As we parked at my destination, I thought about my reply for a few seconds before I answered. “I am self-employed and run a small business.” I simply answered.
“But,” he said, “what did you do before – you don’t sound like the usual fare I have – you don’t seem to be at all concerned that you are riding with a con.”
“I’m not concerned at all.” I said. “You did your crime and you paid your time. You’ve got your life straightened out, that’s the important thing. And, by the way, I am a retired criminologist. It never is easy to start a new life but the critical thing is that you are starting. If you really want a different life, you have options.”
The cabbie seemed to be in quiet surprise as he looked back at me from the front seat. “Like what kind of options?” he asked.
“If you don’t want to drive cab for the rest of your life, then you can make a choice to go back to school, part-time even, so you can qualify for a trade or some other occupation you may be interested in. If you really want to have more, to move beyond sitting in this cab, you can do it if you really want to. Sounds like you do – so why don’t you think about it?”
I needed to exit the cab and be on my way so I pulled some bills out of my wallet to pay the fare I could see registered on the meter. But, before the cabbie took my money, he said, “Hey Mister – I don’t know who you are, but I really enjoyed talking with you. What you said to me makes a lot sense. I will remember your kindness and that you were real easy to talk with – I hope I see you again.”
I bid the cabbie good day and exited the cab. As I was walking away, I felt a moment of pain for that cabbie. I know, from my background, what it is said to be like to be a convict with most people refusing to let you move forward especially when there is a real desire.
But, at the same time, the cabbie is like a lot of other people I have met over the years – only difference is that they are not former criminals they are still in a type of prison each day of the week. These are people who already have a good job and a good reputation but are totally dissatisfied with their life, their job and the seemingly never ending cycle of wishing only for the weekend to come.
The daily prison they go to is one where work is loathed, where each day is full of anguish wishing for something better, pinning their hopes and dreams on those weekly purchases of lottery tickets, or that once a month long shot bet at the horse track. This is a prison of the mind where they can see nothing better – where the mind becomes numb through the week hoping that their short weekend will make up for their misery.
In one way, if these words describe your daily life, you are no different than the former convict – you can see no opportunity – you see only despair – only the same existence day in and day out.
For both, however, there is always an opportunity to change your life if you set your sights at a higher level meaning that you take action to change your life. The decision is your and yours alone.