The Kindness of Taxi Drivers

It happened to me yet again! Another taxi driver refused to take money from me. I don’t fully understand why, but it happens to me every couple of months. Over the past several years, taxi drivers in San Jose, California; Chicago; Philadelphia; New York City and other cities have insisted to me that the ride was complimentary. Sometimes I’ve succeeded in persuading them to accept my payment. Sometimes, I’ve just had to drop the money in the seat next to them since they wouldn’t take it. A few times, like today, I just could not convince them to take the money.

This has happened to me with taxi drivers of different ethnicities and cultures. Often, this kindness has been shown to me by people from Pakistan, which is interesting considering that I am an American of Indian origin and I have a Hindu name. (I classify myself as spiritual and open to all religions.)

I tend to strike up conversations with strangers. Earlier today, on the New York subway, I saw the person next to me had a Nikon D3 camera and started a conversation about it and soon another DSLR camera owner sitting in front of us joined in the conversation.

Today I took a taxi in Manhattan. Hearing the driver’s accent and reading his name in the taxi, I asked if he spoke the Urdu language. He did and we talked about the sport of cricket, about the economy, about the recent elections and about India and Pakistan. When the ride ended, he said he was happy to give me a ride and didn’t want payment. I insisted on paying, but the gentleman was adamant that it was ok. He didn’t want me to pay. I tried to compromise, requested that he at least accept $5, but he wouldn’t even take that. He said to me that he would be driving around anyway and he was happy to give me a ride. Since he was so adamant despite my insistence to pay, I didn’t want to be rude so I politely thanked him for the ride.

The kindness shown by people is what I love. It is not about the money. I’d much rather they accept my payment. While I felt disappointed he didn’t accept payment, his gesture made my day, especially considering that his business is not doing well in the current economic situation in NYC.

I’m touched yet again by the kindness of strangers. Goodness is contagious. Spread it around.

Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Vijay Kalra

    It is funny how that works Rajiv! And it works like how you have explained a lot :)
    Human spirit has an ever beautiful side! all you need to do it be human, genuinely interested in the person you are talking to, in that moment and magic can happen..and it does