April 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taxi cab driver-philosophers

My parents gave me cab rides for Christmas, so when I can't take a bus, I take a cab.  This gift is one of the many benefits of brain tumors.

Talking with cab drivers  is one of the benefits of brain tumors. Some people think I'm being sardonic when I write about the benefits of brain tumors. But I'm sincere, and I'm not crazy. Just read ahead and you'll see...

Today I took a cab to and from the Mac store for my one-to-one session for learning about my Mac.

I like to talk to the cab drivers and learn some of their story, their perspective on life in Seattlle.

This morning's cab driver was from Kenya. He was maybe in his thirties. He moved from Kenya to Minnesota and then to Seattle. "I don't like extreme weather," he tells me. "In Minnesota, the snow is cold and the heat is humid. Seattle is better."

He tells me that in Kenya he had five brothers and three sisters. "Here in the United States, you have small families. I don't like that. I like big families. And the Chinese, they have one child. They are crazy, but I think they changed that now because 70 percent of the country was old people.

I tell him about a family where I grew up: the Donleavies. They had 13 girls and 1 boy.

"That is crazy," he says. "I will have to think about that."

This afternoon's cab driver was greying at his temples, and he was tired. "I worked Sunday from 3 in the afternoon to 5 a.m. That is 14 hours. Thi morning, I set my alarm for 7 a.m., but when I heard it I turned it off. I was too tired. Sometimes, I think, 'What is the point?' I will not get rich. I will just drive this cab and be tired.

"I have lost my values here [in the United States.] Here it is buy, buy, buy. I have to have a house and the right car, or people say, 'Why do you have that bad car?' I said that I would not lose my values, but I have.

"Are you off work today?"

I tell him, "No. I had surgery and I have to change careers now."

"Oh no," he says. "I hope you are okay. Are you okay?"

"I hope so," I say.

"That is good because as long as you have your health, it is a beautiful world. I had three careers before I came here. You have to start over, and it is hard. Then I came here, and I went to school and drove a cab. I was learning, and I felt young. I got married and had a family--two girls--they have so much energy and innocence.

"Now I have to take care of my children. I hate it when people don't do that. If you bring them into the world, you have to take care of them. Otherwise, what is life for?

"I work to put bread on the table. One time a woman was in my cab, and she said, 'The Asians, they work hard.'

"I said to her, 'Excuse me. Do you really think that? One ethnic group is hard working and another is not? What about the individual? I took an exam yesterday--that was when I was in school--and then I drove a cab for 16 hours. And then I get up and do it again. Is that not hard work?''

I say, "Oops. That's my house. Right there."

He backs the taxi to my curb. I say, "Have a nice day."

He says, "One more hour. Then I don't work. It will be a beautiful day. Did you see that movie, A Beautiful Life? I think life is like that, as long as you have your health. Okay. Have a  beautiful day."


  1. Hey Mary. I'm so glad you shared these conversations. People have such meaningful things to say.

  2. As long as you have your health...

    I feel like people say that too easily, without really stopping to think about what it means. Its also one of those things that I believe people dont understand from the outside. Like addiction, or racism. I know I totally took my health for granted, it never crossed my mind that I would be disabled. I thought of myself as kinda sickly since I would get the occasional cold. But now that Im really sick, and have been for years, I see what assumptions I made about my life - that I would be healthy. Turns out, it wasnt a good assumption.

  3. wow! I love this cab driver. Way to put things in perspective. Is there any way he can be a guest blogger with you or something:)

  4. mary, you really shouldn't engage cabdrivers in conversation. dad is the only other person i know who does that.

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