I was on a tight schedule to catch my plane and the cab was five minutes late. I’m standing on the sidewalk outside of school with 70 beautiful preschoolers walking by for the fire drill. Each one breaking the code of fire drill silence to greet me with their smiling face and little burst of enthusiasm —“It’s Doug!” With such love, how could I not wake up each day eager to go to work? And I do. But at this moment, all my attention is looking down the empty street waiting for the flash of a yellow car to reassure me that I’ll make my plane.
It arrives just at the moment I take out my secret cell phone to call the cab company. I start the ride down the freeway annoyed, but within five minutes, realize I had won the lottery of cab drivers, one of those referred to in the popular wisdom, “If the cab drivers and barbers ran the country, we’d be in great shape.”
He started with noting I taught at a school and off he went: “Man, it is shameful the way they keep cutting funds to education. Ain’t nothin’ more important. But the s.o.b.’s take money away and outsource the jobs so the young people have no choices left except join the army and fight in their wars.” And good morning to you!
“Well,” I rejoined, “Some make these bad decisions out of ignorance and some just because they have money and their kids are in the good schools, so what do they care? And yeah, you don’t see too many sons and daughters of the warmakers signing up to enlist.”
“Some of my fellow cab drivers are worried that we’re going to start bombing their countries, but I tell them not to worry, ain’t gonna happen until after the election. We start dropping bombs on Iran, price of oil goes up and the voters get mad. Politicans can huff and puff all they want about freedom and all that crap, but it’s all about the almight Buck. Always has been and always will be.
“The politicians don’t run things anyway. With 24,000 lobbyists in Washington, they’re all just puppets of the big money corporations. Makes no different who we vote for— both the Democrats and Republicans suck. Only difference is that the Republicans got teeth, so it hurts.”
Like I said, this was an interesting cab ride!
“My kids doing all right. Both went to Lowell (a high-achieving public school in SF) and my daughter’s in Stanford. I just made sure that I was there to help them through their schoolwork when they were kids and it paid off. My son is not only smart, but an entrepreneur. He’s trying to sell my sperm on E-Bay using himself as an example of product reliability—‘Hey! Look how good I turned out!'
“Anyway, I didn’t have to read books on how to raise my kids. Just used my common sense. Ain’t nothin’ so uncommon these days as common sense.”
It was about then, a couple of miles from the airport, that he noticed he forgot to turn on the meter. “Well, heck, it’s usually around $30, but you’re a teacher, let’s just say $25.” I had done this ride enough to know that this was indeed in the ballpark and not only got to the airport in time, but had the treat of an engaging conversation. Was close to asking his name to find out when he would run for President, but when he started talking about how much he liked Howard Stern, he lost my vote.
Still, I think we should try out a new idea this Election year—only barbers and taxi drivers can run for office. Heck, couldn’t be any worse than it is and just possibly a whole lot better. The only rule is they’d have to keep working part-time in their profession. That way, they keep in touch with people and we keep in touch with them. Imagine a haircut or cab ride where you got to talk about the cuts in education with someone who could actually do something about it.
Think about it.