The United Nations (of airport taxis)

I was in Houston last week and I had to take a taxi to the airport from where I had been working. I had a great conversation with Steve, the driver. I asked him how long he had been driving and he told me "about a month, and tomorrow's my last day." Well, that was a new one.

Turns out Steve had been a railroad conductor for twenty years, but got in a train accident where his partner lost his life. He took a year off and then decided he was too bored, so he thought he'd drive a taxi for a little while and then look for another job.

It's always interesting to see somebody doing something they enjoy, and this guy thoroughly enjoyed driving his cab. It reminded me of temp jobs I've worked, (the best was, of course, driving a forklift in a candy factory) and how you can enjoy tasks that seem mundane when you know you don't have to do it for the rest of your life. That was Steve, behind that wheel. I learned a really interesting thing from him, that he had just learned a few weeks ago.

You know how there are always taxis at airports, but always only a few? It turns out that, depending on the size of the airport, there can be as many as 400 or 500 taxis waiting in a holding area a mile or two away, waiting their turn to pick up a fare. The airports build big parking lots and the taxis line up in rows and then park and wait for their row to be called. At really big airports, like Houston, a driver could wait for up to six hours for their row to be called.

These areas have rec buildings, with bathrooms and showers, TV rooms, ping-pong tables, food service and even a worship center. Steve was telling me that a lot of the drivers actually live there. They grab a comfy chair, get a few hours sleep, drive somebody around, come back, watch a movie and take another nap.

Most of the folks that drove at the airport, he said, were recent immigrants. Not a surprise there, having met some amazing people from all over the world by taking cabs and asking questions. He said that a lot of these guys were really educated, Masters degrees and city planners and economists. For whatever reason, a thick accent, a lack of references or cultural understanding, these highly educated people can't get the jobs they came to America to find. So they drive these cabs and live at the airport.

A lot of them save the money and send it back to their families, and like Steve, the job is a temporary thing. Others just enjoy having cash, a cool watch and a nice jacket. Things they can't get back home.

Like anyplace where people congregate, community develops, and smaller communities develop within. Apparently, people from different countries tend to congregate and become their own little groups there. The Ugandans watch TV here, while the Ethiopians play pool in here....

I don't really have a point to this, I just found it incredibly fascinating. If I were a filmmaker I'd be running out the door with a hat and a camera to make a documentary. (why the hat? I don't know) As it is, I'm a guitar player who writes songs and is trying to learn iMovie, so maybe I'll try to write a tune about it someday. I've tried to Google these places, but can't find anything. If any of you internet Sherlocks can dig anything up, please pass the links along.

Well, that's all for me tonight. I must retire. We're having a great time at the ol' Metropolitan Museum of Modern Paul and I can't wait until I have something decently polished to share with you. I think you'll like it. Take care. Happy Friday.