Generally speaking, I’m not the quiet sort.

Want an opinion? I can give you one right now. Need to debate a topic? I’m always game. I love words and conversation.

That acknowledged, there are times when I should truly think before I open my mouth and let the sentences roll out. 

My colleague and I were leaving a hotel after attending a conference. It was a nice hotel, a Marriott if you want to know. The kind where taxis are always waiting out front to pick up departing guests. Since the hotel employee exchanged words with the taxi driver about golfing, they must have a rapport, right? I assumed we were in good hands. 

How wrong I was.

All my companion did was ask if the white driver if he liked sports. The rambling tangent began about not being from the city we were in, but from another although he left there when he was eight and moved here and on and on and on. Then the real trouble began. He started to talk about African Americans being rare where he lived as a child. He was, at first, at least polite enough to use the term “black.” 

Being a pale white, Celtic-heritage person, I don’t think the color-word we use to describe each other is necessarily a bad thing. However, the story was starting to go down a path that caused my friend and I to tense up and stare straight ahead.

My heart was pounding with anger and my brain was racing thinking: Does this idiot think just because we are Caucasian women that this is an appropriate tale for us? As the thought was finishing, he voiced an inflammatory racial slur and that was the catalyst for me. 

I told him he had to be quiet, that I couldn’t hear anything else he had to say, that those aren’t words I want in my world.

Dead silence.

Good.

Until we finally got to the airport and were sitting down to lunch and my friend commented on how strange and scary that ride was. That’s when I realized that we were in the desert and he could have kept driving us right by the airport and deep into the far, far away arid land and killed us simply because I told him to shut up.

Since we’re alive, I’m ecstatic that I spoke up. Do I think I made a difference in his life? Probably a slim chance of that. Might he think twice of using that language with another fare? Maybe for a short time, but I doubt if it will stick very long.

Will I think twice about speaking up again? Yes, if I’m in a situation where safety could be a consideration. Not if I’m in a safe setting, though. Given good circumstances, I’ll continue flapping my gums and letting what comes out, come out when it’s the right thing to do.

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That story told, I’m truly not a novice at taking a taxi. Usually, I don’t like it, being a control freak about who I ride with. 

I have certainly had some weird drivers (that ride from Lyon, France to a tiny town a half hour away), good, kind and gracious drivers (Lyon to the same tiny town), a super fun Welsh driver (“I found this car running with the keys in it, the phone rang and you needed a ride, so I thought why not?”), and some blasé, no real descriptive-words-available drivers.

But a recent trip was the first time I had one who was adamant about trust. 

I am a blogger, not a journalist, so I’m not researching to seek out the facts of what he said. I will accept it as his opinion and you can accept it as my recounting of the story. 

Being a very friendly black man of perhaps mid-thirties, he asked where I was going after he dropped me at the airport. In answer to Pittsburgh, I get the same conversation I always get when discussing my city: black and gold. It depends on the time of year as to whether the reference is to the Steelers, the Pirates, or the Penguins. Same discussion: I don’t care about sports, yes I’m happy for the town when they win, no I don’t feel bad that my life doesn’t revolve around tailgating and play-by-plays.

Off that tangent, I asked about his routes and how he gets fares. He said that within the taxi community of his town, there is a lot of corruption. Hmmm, I pondered that. Other than the mafia (not sure if it’s even around), what could there be to corrupt about taxis?

Turns out a lot.

There are drivers and hotels in collusion. The taxis give a kickback to the hotels who only use their services. He explained how it works, how much more money those drivers earn, and that the only ones suffering are the passengers who end up forking out the extra fares required to cover the payouts.

He told me how those drivers get off the highway at the airport exit, where he takes the exit one and a half miles earlier because it saves his passengers some expense.

After the other taxi ride, this fellow intrigued me in being his opposite in ways beyond color. It was his upbringing, his obvious joy in life, in people and doing a good job.

Then he stated that he trusts that God will bring him where he needs to be and will help him earn the money he needs to allow him to learn by doing the right thing in the right way.

Refreshing.

Trust is the cornerstone of what we do in life and speaks directly to our relationships and credibility. It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO, a minister, or a taxi driver. If you are not able to look in the mirror at the end of each day and assess what you’ve done and how it ties to trust (in yourself, in God), it might be time to rethink tomorrow’s plan.

Wonder how that first driver feels about himself when he looks in the mirror each day.

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Read: Embracing Left Turns