I recently flew down to Portland for training in my new luxury business (and engage in new friendship-making). I was in a hurry and feeling flustered. I was already annoyed at having to fly standby (hubs is a pilot so we never buy tickets anymore, and I’m going gray at just thinking about the stress I go through to make a flight, all while smiling, and making sure I never leave the gate to sneak a mimosa). I sat through three flights of getting bumped before I could make the 48-minute flight from Seattle. (It is not lost on me that I could have driven down to Portland in the same amount of time.) After exiting the airport and what felt like a three mile hike, I found the public transportation area. I felt late, disorganized, and cranky (I was hangry—that’s what I call my middle-schooler).
I had to catch a taxi because my Uber app wasn’t working. Along came Abdi. (Our trainer was also running late from California, so I did exhale vociferously once inside the taxi).
I asked where he was from, as I examined the interior. It was dirty, had a slight odor of intensity, musk, sandalwood, and diligence. Abdi is Ethiopian. He has a wife and 3 children. After telling me, I said I was from Washington, north of Seattle.
I didn’t offer much more than that. I was texting my parents, who were in charge of my babies, that I arrived safely (I’m 42, and my parents still want to me to call when I get somewhere safely. Guess the worry never dulls). Abdi asked what I was in town for, I explained. He asked if I was excited. Sure. Silence. It became a scavenger hunt of thoughtful words to say to this man. I was irritated, without reason, without apology.
After too many miles, and my legs sticking to the ripped gray-brown leather seat, leaving me a souvenir scratch mark on the back of my leg, we arrived at a swanky hotel where my training was. I paid as he asked if I needed a ride back to the airport. Sure. I was now early, but still late, since our trainer was absent still. Why was I being short? I’m known for talking to anyone, anywhere, about anything. In fact, back in the day, my girlfriends used to tease me because I always wanted to sit in the front seats of the taxis in Las Vegas, just so I could talk to the driver, asking inane questions.
Thank you. Goodbye.
I took his card with his cell phone number, knowing I wasn’t going to call. Just being polite. Clearing my head.
We had a delicious training—emotional, yet intentional. I was carrying a heavy load of new and lovely information about my top shelf skincare line, the vision of my already successful company, and the many tips I absorbed. And then came the friendship making part. Breathtaking.
I had a soul sisterhood moment. Gin and tonic (with a heavy lime twist of course), laughter, and learning. I was happy and satiated. And I was disappointed with myself. All at once. I hadn’t practiced kindness today when it was difficult. I allowed my self-involved hectic self to be in charge and I felt embarrassed.
It was time to go. I found Abdi’s card. He answered, happily. After hugs and goodbye-ing, I hopped in his cab. Funny, I didn’t notice the smell. I didn’t see the dirt. I saw the driver. And this happened…
Me: Teanaste’lle’n (“Hello,” in Amheric. My parents taught me some of the language when I was little).
Abdi: Ahh! Teanaste’lle’n! Dehna nesh? (How are you?)
Me: Really good, the training was great, and I feel focused.
Abdi: You are feeling happy, yes?
Me: Yes. I am. I wasn’t so sure of myself today. (… searching for something to offer…) So, are you a Coptic Christian? My mom collects Coptic icons. My parents lived in Ethiopia for a while, and loved it there (true story).
Abdi: No, we are Muslim.
Me: How has it been for you lately? It must be hard sometimes on you and your family.
Abdi: It is. My god is good, just like yours. I respect your god.
Me: Tell me more…
Abdi: I see a man or woman, they need something. I give it. If I can’t, I’ll search for it and then try and give it. That person needs me. And I need him.
Me: How do you mean?
Abdi: I’m a Humanist. Every man is another man’s salvation. Only we can save each other. Our gods are one; therefore, we are the same. I am not judging you for anything right now.
Me: I love you and your family Abdi for being here, and for staying in America, and holding faith in us. We aren’t all hateful.
Abdi: And we aren’t either. Humans are love. Anyone who truly believes in their god, is only about love.
Me: That’s very beautiful (tears welling, my heart swelling, my pride shrinking.)
Abdi: Thank you for talking to me Amy. Safe travels.
No, thank you, Abdi, for showing what humanity is all about. If you need a cabbie in Portland, I know a good one.