Yesterday, my wife and I flag a taxi cab on 16th St. in Washington, DC. A man in his 70’s with a wool hat stops and the door magically opens and he yells “Don’t touch the door! It’s automatic!” We concede laughing and get in. “To Union Station, please, or, if you want, all the way to New York.” He laughs. “Wherever you want, sir.”
Then he tells us his life story. It starts with Shirley Temple Black (“Who?” we say) “Shirley Temple… you know… the actress… she was the U.S. Ambassador stationed in Ghana, and I was a Pakistani Diplomat… I would play cards every afternoon with her husband, who had lost a leg in Vietnam... I loved Ghana… beautiful people, beautiful country, very peaceful…”
Then he tells us about his son, which is why as a retired diplomat he became a taxi driver, to pay for his education. He told him, "You are my responsibility. If I have to wash the toilets of Washington DC for your tuition fee I would not hesitate to do that". Then he tells us, "I work 7 days a week from 8 am to 8pm driving a cab. So I need 200 dollars every day. 6,000 dollars per month. 3,000 for his fee and 3,000 for running my home. So this is my story sir. "
Photo: Jorge Baxter (note: The man in the photo is not the same person from the story); Co-authored Jorge Baxter and Adriana Cepeda