Opinion: The long and winding road
Most times, the taxi driver simply ignores his patrons after the short negotiation of place and rate. Too often, once in the car the passenger can expect the driver to take a phone call and shout in some nearly indecipherable foreign tongue, confident in the expectation that the folks in the back seat are both incapable of understanding him and unworthy of his respect. We endure the rudeness, pay the fare and exit the cab never again to interact with this nameless being in whom we’d just entrusted our lives.
Perhaps we’d glanced at the face on the license and amused ourselves by attempting to match the name with a country of origin. But is the failure to connect an expected, if not desired, part of the transaction? Have taxis, with thick glass and a rear-facing credit card machine, simply become a mobile ATM? Do we approach, run a card, get our desired outcome and still manage to avoid all human interaction?
Yet, is the alternative of an all-too-engaged service provider preferred? Do we hope to learn the family history of the person taking us to the airport? I tend to pick peace and quiet. He has a job to do and it does not include entertaining me. And, I value a moment to collect my thoughts and prepare for the next meeting. But what are we missing if we fail to connect with others who find their ways, by happenstance or intention, into our lives? What can we learn and what does it matter?
If it is impossible to know what lies ahead, then it is equally impossible to prospectively assign value to those we encounter. It is a long and winding road that carries us through life; and it beyond human capacity to determine who might be our guide, or driver, along the way.