The Human Comedy: Taxi Tao 2
Dana got into the taxi. “Port Authority,” she told the driver.
“Absolutely,” said the driver, a mid-30s man with an unmistakably non-native face and accent.
“Where are you from?” Dana asked him.
“West Africa. Burkina Faso.”
“Can’t say I’ve been.”
“It is my home.”
Dana’s phone buzzed. Her mother. Questions about boys and her life goals, surely. “Can I call you back, Mom? I’m in a cab.”
“You should make time for your parents,” the driver said when she hung up. “It is a special connection.”
They pulled onto the West Side Highway. “I love this road,” Dana said.
“When there is no traffic, yes.”
“Was the ebola outbreak bad in Burkina Faso?”
“Not as bad as in some other places.”
“You have family there still?”
“Yes. But it is a little scary.”
Dana watched West Manhattan and North Jersey whiz past her window. “It’s funny,” she said. “We made such a big deal about ebola here. Everyone was so worried about it. And over there, they actually have to deal with it. They still have to deal with it. And here, we’ve moved on.”
The driver hung a left to cut across town. “In Burkina Faso, we have a saying: ‘The animal that cries for food and water is not really hungry and thirsty. The quiet animal is the one who is really hungry and thirsty.'”
“Because when you are really hungry and thirsty, you don’t have the energy to cry?”
“Yes,” said the driver. “All you care about is finding food and water. You don’t cry about it. You find it.”
“I was on a plane once,” Dana said.
Dana smiled. “And on the plane I was talking to this guy from Greece about the situation in his country, and I said, ‘There’s really a lot of problems.’ He said, ‘I am a farmer. I know what real problems are. When it doesn’t rain, and you can’t grow any food to eat, this is a problem. The rest of the things – they are not problems. Only head problems.'”
“Head problems.” The driver nodded. “This is a wise man.”
“We have a lot of head problems in this country,” said Dana.
The driver smiled in the rear view. “That is the problem with having a head.”
He pulled over at the corner of 42nd and 8th. “It is nice talking to you,” he said.
“It’s been wonderful.”
The driver placed her suitcase on the curb. “Don’t forget to call your mother.”
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Photograph by Jesse Bowser