Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Chatting with Tarat
I arrived in Phoenix today for a quick business trip. As I walked out of the airport into the 110+ degree heat, I found the taxi stand and got a cab to take me to my hotel. Being more of an introvert, I'm not usually one of those people who immediately strikes up conversation with everyone around them; but the driver seemed like a nice guy and so I decided to get to know him a bit.
Over the next 20-25 minutes I learned all about his upbringing in Cairo and his decision to come to the US to go to school. In his first year at ASU, he met his wife and he now has 4 children between the ages of 1 and 8! He just became a US citizen and is so thankful to be here. We talked American and Egyptian politics, weather, and thoughts about raising children. When he dropped me off, he thanked me so much for the conversation and I thanked him as well, calling him by his first name (Tarat), which I had noticed on his license. Before he departed, he asked how I knew his name. When I told him, he seemed so touched that I had paid attention to a detail like that.
I suspect that Tarat is often treated as nothing more than a paid servant. I've written before about the importance of using people's names whenever possible. I find that when I do so, they become real people with real families and real stories, rather than just their occupations. They're more than the receptionist, or the deli counter person, or the TSA agent. Tarat was more than just a cab driver.
It occurs to me that every time we have an exchange with someone, we have an opportunity to impact them. That impact can be positive or negative. I'm trying to be more conscious of using that opportunity to send a positive "wave" into the world. I suspect that Tarat will go on to his next fare with his spirit somewhat uplifted from our exchange, and maybe that will even carry over to the rest of his day and his interactions with his family when he gets home tonight. We never really know how we impact others; but we can sure try to make it a positive one.