It seems fairly normal, right – talking to the man who’s driving you to your destination? Except my experience this morning changed that for me. I was travelling a short distance in Dubai to pick my car up where I left it before a long night of cocktails, shooters, painful heels and spicy Mexican food.
I had a lot on my mind and I’m usually the kind of person who doesn’t like to be bothered during unaccompanied cab rides. I like to look out the window and think about my latest important life decision. Okay, I play 2048. In any case, this morning, when I got inside the cab that had slightly uncomfortable leather seats, the lack of intrusive behaviour and unnecessary comments on part of the driver had me relieved [Even though he was a kind-looking man – probably in his late 40s]. Then a strange thing happened: I stopped midway while updating my ‘Priority List’ on my phone and put it away.
I don’t know what prompted it, but after a few minutes of complete silence, I asked the cab driver where he was from. This is fairly normal for most of us. But his reaction caught me off-guard. He was clearly surprised that I had initiated a conversation with him, stunned into silence for at least 5 seconds. He told me he hailed from Peshawar, Pakistan, quietly. I felt the hesitance in his voice as he asked me where I was from.
This began an exchange of funny commonalities. We started at nationalities and ended at how girls are expected to be married in our cultures, about how he wants his daughter to study but she refuses and how difficult it is in the world for kids without education. He said he wanted his sons to be better off than him and made sure they were all doing well in school. I was pleasantly surprised that he was a proponent of women’s education [We all have preconceptions].
There was nothing extraordinary about it, but it felt like a door had opened. We all know, at a basic level, that we’re human and all the same, but do we always act like it?
Have you ever connected with an unexpected stranger? If you have, we’d love to hear from you in the comments [And for goodness’ sake: No, not that kind of connection with a stranger].