The cab driver who took me to the airport yesterday, Mr. Hailey, has driven a cab in DC for 46 years! What stories he could tell, eh? I asked him what had changed the most, and he said concerns for his own safety. That’s sad, eh? He used to go to all places in the city, even those with a reputation for being dangerous. Now, he steers clear of them, concentrating on the airports because the folks flying in/out are usually (95% of the time, in his estimation) engaged in some kind of business, trying to get to a meeting or get home from one.
He told me about the vibe he gets from some folk, that just puts him into fear. How he drives faster just to get them out of his cab and hope he’s gonna be ok. I just can’t imagine the daily exposure to that kind of risk, and what toll it might take?
Anyway, the cabbies there aren’t unionized, which is probably one reason why it’s become such a good job for immigrants. It’s an entrepreneurial business. Speaking of which, I was BUMMED that my buddy Marcel – who I met last time I was DC a few weeks ago – stood me up for a ride to the airport yesterday morning. I’d had a hint of doubt about his friendliness (I’ve never been hugged by a cabbie before), but I did sense that it was genuine. Anyway, I had a feeling that maybe he doesn’t usually work on Sundays, but in our difficult cell phone conversation (static, accents, vocabulary) I guess he didn’t realize it was an OPTION to tell me he couldn’t come and get me that early. 🙁 Anyway, I had to scramble; yet my ride with Mr. Hailey gave me a sense of providence. (Similar to the mishaps on the Metro Saturday, which delayed my arrival at the NMAI, yet provided me with a couple of memorable and thought-provoking experiences.)
The other thing I was directly curious about was if international visitors had increased or not over his career. Not appreciably, or, as he said, sometimes you can’t tell where people are from. That surprised me; I would have expected that the kinds of people who travel these days are markedly more diverse than the kinds of people who traveled “back then.”
At any rate, after the stress of thinking I was going to miss my plane, my ride with Mr. Hailey set a great tone for the rest of my day. 🙂