I hopped a cab tonight because I really, really, couldn’t deal with the humanity that crowds the subway. Well, actually, it was late enough that the trains wouldn’t be crowded, but still. There was a chill in the air (frigid, perhaps) and I needed to get home. A long-ish day. Not like the “old days” but then again I am not in my 20s or 30s any more (barely still in my 40s).
The cab driver was talking on the phone. His driving skills were basic: if your foot is not on the gas (accelerating in a way that gave a born-and-bred Manhattanite motion sickness), then your foot must be on the brake.
Ok, so I needed him off the phone and off the gas pedal. Hmmm. I struck up a conversation.
“Where are you from?”
“What do you think of the elections?”
“I don’t think it will change much. There will be fighting.”
“Are you from the north or the South?”
“North. Independence won’t change anything. People will fight each other now in the South. Many different peoples.”
“Same problem in the North?”
“Government there is strong. So, no fighting in north.”
I offered “brutal” as a more apt description.
He said, “way of life there, not here.”
I had no response to that simple statement of relief and admiration for this country. I asked him what he thought about Egypt.
“Now the world knows what has been happening there.”
I was silent. Maybe I should have known before. I just didn’t think about it.
He offered up, “no one speaks to police. too much bribes and danger. not here, government is less corrupt.”
I had never thought of our government in terms of lesser corruption. Not the superlatives we were raised to expect of our government. But he meant it as a true compliment.
My world view, turned on an incline — “less corrupt” as a compliment and an ideal.
Another lesson in life from a stranger.