It was Amir’s third month on the job as a New York City Taxi driver and only his seventh month in the United States. In his short time in the new country he had learn all the short cuts in Manhattan. His skillful driving through the City’s convoluted traffic had also made him one of the top money earners at his Taxi Company. In the middle of rush hour he could get you from the heart of Greenwich Village to Midtown Manhattan in about ten minutes. Unlike some of his peers, Amir never felt like it was necessary to run up the meter in his cab; instead he relied on the generous tips from his customers for any extra cash apart from his bi-weekly salary. His coworkers referred to him as “the genius” because he could take one glance at a map and figure out the fastest route from point A to point B. In other words, when it came to driving a taxi, he was the King of Manhattan. In just three months he was more valuable to his company than men that have been there driving for over a decade.
On this specific trip however, his passenger was heading to Crown Heights Brooklyn and the traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge was not playing nicely. He could tell once he had got into China Town that the traffic to Brooklyn would be moving at a snail’s pace, but his only other option would be the Manhattan Bridge which most likely would have been just as bad.
It was not normal practice for Amir to talk to his passengers. The routine was more of him listening to passengers’ conversations on their cell phones. As a matter of fact on nights when he did not attend college classes, he would tell his three roommates some of the stories he heard throughout the day. He told them about the exec who failed to close a deal in Tokyo and the one who did not meet his target for the year so his company denied him a bonus. He told them of the man who one week before heading to Massachusetts to get marry, caught his boyfriend having sex with a mutual female college friend who had visited them from California. He also told them his favorite story about the woman who was telling her friend how nice things would be, if on the night that George Bush Jr. was conceived, Barbara had given Bush Sr. a blowjob instead of vaginal sex.
As the traffic to Brooklyn continued to crawl, Amir thought he had to spark a conversation to pass the time. Plus he couldn’t help thinking about his passenger’s beautiful white teeth and her warm smile when she said: “Carroll Street in Brooklyn please”. Had he not been the professional he was, he would have had a lot more to say than just “sure ma’am” before looking for Carroll Street on his map.
“I bet you wish you had taken the Subway” said Amir to his passenger who was now reading a section of the New York Times that was left in the cab by a previous passenger.
“Well I am not sure which is the less of two evils”, she replied as she lift up her head from the paper, “Having to bear that polluted Subway System or being stuck in traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.” He wanted to say “at least here you are stuck with me” but his responsibilities as a taxi driver overcame the fact that the most he had said to a woman in the last seven months was “hi, where are you going?” and “thanks, have a nice day”.
The young lady must have been happy that Amir broke the ice, because once he did; they talk and talk so much that being stuck in traffic felt like an evening at a comfortable bar. When he told her that he drove taxi by day but attended computer classes at nights and about his aspirations to become a computer scientist, she told him she was actually a software engineer working for a fledgling start-up in Manhattan. They then talk about java, XML, databases and Cisco routers. One conversation lead to another and soon she was telling him about her Facebook profile and her dog’s Facebook profile. She told him about the handsome stock trader she met on Facebook but when they met in person he was so into himself, she wished she had spent her Saturday night at home with her dog.
By the time they got off the bridge and into Brooklyn they had gotten so comfortable that the young lady requested that Amir pull down the glass partition which is meant to protect the driver from the passengers. Although this was against Company policy, Amir was more than glad to oblige. Now he could see her beauty even more clearly through the rear-view mirror. When she smiled, she had these large dimples on each cheek that looked like you could fit a raisin in each one. While Amir’s holy book was not the bible, he had read it on few occasions and he was sure she was the woman Solomon spoke of in the Songs of Solomon. In Amir’s eyes she was the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley and her two lips were like two ripe cherries that are twins.
“We are here” said Amir. They had spent an hour and a half in traffic, but once they started talking neither of them had noticed how long the duration of the trip really was. “That will be $113.80” said Amir. When she handed him $140 and told him to keep the change, he could not. The trip cost was about three times what it should be and traffic was the only thing to blame. How could he in good conscience accept such a large tip? He did not want her spending so much on a trip that could have been enormously less and a lot faster had she taken the subway, plus if he could just give her change he could touch her hand and pretend like it was not on purpose. As he tried to give her some money back however, she took his hand with her left hand then cupped it with her right hand, then looking directly in his eyes she said “hey, the traffic gave you a real bad break today, still you made my ride enjoyable. Please take the tip; I will not have it any other way”. Amir was speechless, he did not even notice that her soft hands were no longer holding his until she had already gotten out of the cab and closed the door.
Amir was back in Manhattan having lunch a little later than usual, thanks to the long but pleasant Brooklyn trip. He thought about the enchanting lady he was enjoying great conversation with less than an hour ago. He though about her smile, her chalk white teeth, her tender touch when she held his hand. All of this and some great conversations, yet they did not even exchange names. He knew she was a software engineer working in Manhattan, she had a dog and she loved Facebook but he had no idea if her name was X, Y or Z.
As Amir finished lunch and went back to his cab, he noticed something on his back seat. It was a grey pocket book or better yet what he hoped was the answer to his prayers. He opened the pocket book and discovered a driver’s license and an American Express card both belonging to a Ruth Rosenfeld. Sure enough the picture of Ruth on the driver’s license was the picture of the beautiful lady with whom Amir had the earlier encounter. Now the company’s policy states that any items left behind by passengers should be turned in to the Company. The Company would then take the necessary step to contact the passenger and return their belongings to them. Amir was in a dilemma. He did not want to turn over the pocket book to his company and miss the opportunity to see this beautiful lady again. She was not the first passenger that had treated him kindly. There was the business man who was running late for a very important meeting. The Business man convinced that he would be late gave Amir a $100 tip after Amir’s skillful maneuvering behind the steering wheel got him to his meeting on time. This tip could not have come at a better time as Amir needed the money to buy a book for his Calculus class. Then there was the lady who had baked ginger bread cookies for her co-workers during Christmas and she gave him one of the zip loc bags filled with cookies. None of this could even be compared to what he experienced with Ruth though. She was interested in his life story. She admired the fact that he was not only a full time taxi driver by day but he was also a full time student by night. How could he possibly give up an opportunity to see this lady again? It wouldn’t be long before Ruth noticed she left her pocket book and she will definitely call his Company. He could take a trip back to Brooklyn but how would he account for his time, plus his Friday afternoon prayers was coming up soon, should he skip Friday afternoon prayers for a second encounter with this lady?
To be continued…