Another Day in the Taxi
It was just another day after work when you leave work and feel that everyone is in the streets without any sense or motive or even a destination, crowded streets, crazy traffic and horns that automatically lead to tense and nervous attitude all around. This is Cairo on Thursday!
Not that other days in Cairo are calm, empty and beautiful. All days are pretty much the same, same noise, same traffic, same attitude and same dysfunctional roads and mentalities.
Everyone is stuck with Cairo’s routine and Thursday for Egyptians is considered the happy day and that’s how they express happiness, go everywhere and do everything with stir! However, this only shows in certain circles and professions. I guess as a lot of professions require never ending hours and constant work on the clock, being in the streets for more than ten hours a day, changing shifts or working with a different time zone or even the so called low caliber of our society who work day and night to support a living but still in an inadequate way for them and their family.
Some of these professions are obvious to us, we see them daily, we use them as rides from far or close destinations, and they are just there roaming the streets of Cairo waiting for livelihood. This profession I’m talking about is taxi drivers and on Thursday there are a lot.
Taxi drivers are awkward. Have any of you felt that? I am not surprised to be honest as they have dissimilar lives like many other professions as well. This profession requires engaging in the streets on a day to day basis, absorbing all you can get from energy with its highs and lows, witnessing the chaos first hand and dealing with unpredictable human reactions most of their hours. They work in the jungle. They pick up and drop strangers all day long. Imagine yourself knee deep in chaos, meeting strangers day in day out. If that doesn’t make you awkward and not want to exchange conversations with these strangers, I don’t know what would. It is not always the case though.
Here I was on a not so far Thursday night. I decided to visit a friend whose house is a thirty minutes’ drive from my place. Waiting for a driver to approve my destination, which is a very bizarre phenomenon as they are licensed to get you wherever you want, and not like they are getting paid less with long destinations, or that they do not need the money so they pick their own passengers. It is not the need that controls them here. It is boredom and apathy. After all, there is no progress in their lives and it is a hectic job.
I didn't wait much till a taxi stopped and greeted me with a smile saying “I’ll take you wherever, just come in” and here I sat next to him to begin this joy yet informative ride and I started by asking his name. His name was Ibrahim and he was from Alexandria.
Heading to my destination where a sudden traffic jam occurred and continued for like half an hour, and at the end of the road we could see this common situation of a police officer bullying a driver in an insulting way for some moronic reason as always, maybe the driver looked at him in a bad way or something. The police officer did not give a single care about the jammed road, maybe he was feeling a power trip as this is how they practice it in countries like Egypt. That was the spark. The driver conveying me started yarning about the situation and he was very educated I must say.
I kept listening to Ibrahim telling me about his Egypt, his life and his day to day experiences relating them to politics and to condition in other regions. He was surprisingly aware with everything that happens in his country, very politically educated and an observer for the news and updates.
Almost reaching my destination, I was amazed and happy for such an unexpected knowledgeable ride with a really kind optimistic driver. Putting in mind that this guy and others like him don’t have the luxury of spare time and are really tight financially, supporting their selves and families. I have to say, speaking of the country and disputing his opinions, his words really made sense and that got me to an astonishing new conclusion.
Most of us were raised on the idea that money means better education, better awareness and better living in general, it is also for the fact that we live in an oblivious misleading country where power and money mean everything. It basically determines your future and other generations’ future as well. It’s very delusional and depressing. In life and politics for example, there is a stereotype where you judge less calibers and accuse them for being ignorant and that the country will not advance as long as they don’t follow. Well, the way I see it is that the most educated people in this country are the ones who are drowning it with their greed and stratification. They focus on procuring more for themselves and less for the country and still they are in power. Money and power do not rule and rise countries, knowledge and experience do.
I am not in any way referring that our president or any senior post in our country has to be someone who suffered through life and did not have enough education, all I am saying is why not? Why not listen to ideas from people who really know the country and its significance in every hidden corner where our superiors never bother to visit and find solutions to cure and solve. It is the roots that are poisoned and it is the roots that need to be fixed not just talks and selfish decisions.
This article is not meant for taxi drivers or any profession in particular, it is meant for us to see and realize that unfortunate people are full of wisdom and knowledge given the countless hours they spend engaging with the cruel life and witnessing everything first hand. They can be a source of major progress if noticed and alimented. Listen to them and use their words for good rather than suppressing them. They are the people. They are the country. They are assets.
Imagine if just a bit of guidance and chance been provided to such people, talents will rise and a new era of smart will start.
That was my joy ride on that crowded Thursday.
That’s my stop. Thanks Hima!