I felt I needed to share this. This conversation I had with a taxi driver left me inspired, touched, amazed and heartbroken. Gave me hope, awareness and wisdom.
In about 30 mins, we spoke of religion, politics, race and culture. Basically everything “they” tell you not to talk about.
First, I noticed he had an accent. A familiar one, so I asked him where he was from, instead of making any assumptions but as I thought, he answered “Africa”. He was very kind and talkative. His accent wasn’t so heavy that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He asked me where I was from, I answered that I grew up here in Minnesota, moved to Florida and came back to Minnesota after I had my son.
Everyone always looks at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I left beaches and palm trees and returned to the frozen tundra that Minnesota is for much of the year; and that was exactly what he asked next. I explained that my son has autism and that there is better care and services here than in Florida.
Then the topic moved onto autism. He spoke of his country. He said they don’t see that much over there. I took my medication because i felt my mind drifting and my eyes were locking, fixed on nothing in particular. and he asked if I was sick. I explained I have adhd and take meds to help manage it. He told me that when kids have Adhd in Africa, they don’t take medication, they put them in sports and activities but he had never seen the way people zone in and out like they do here. Adhd is different there.
He told me that he grew up in what is considered middle class over there. He attended university, their meals were provided but often, are what we would consider inadequate at best. He described one meal what they call “water sandwiches” in which they dunk bread in water because it is so stale and dry that it’s impossible to chew if they didn’t.
This is considered to be “well off”. I thought to myself, “shit. I have always had (for the most part) something to eat…we have no right to complain and I’m fucking lucky to have been born here.” Of course I replied politely careful not to sound braggy, but grateful, in which was how I was feeling.
Then, he told me about himself, with group of guys that are all from Africa, sponsor 20 children over there to take care of any medical expenses, food, and school. They send $1000 every month.
Think about that for a moment… He drives a taxi. He isn’t rolling in cash. He’s struggling just like the lot of us. Yet, he sacrifices probably close to half of his salary to children that otherwise aren’t given a chance at having a future.
To be continued…