How My Taxi Driver Became My (Unofficial) Therapist
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How My Taxi Driver Became My (Unofficial) Therapist

An open letter of gratitude to an unexpected friend who taught me the gift of learning something new from everyone I meet.

How My Taxi Driver Became My (Unofficial) Therapist
The Daily Dot

In the spirit of gratitude that this season of bittersweet endings and new beginnings often brings, I want to tell you a story about a couple of friends of mine.

The ever- radiant Julie Andrews once sang: "let's start at the very beginning." And, if she said it, it must be a good idea. So, here goes.

This story opens on a young college student, bereft and windswept without a ride across town to the middle school in which she is to work with students once a week. Many of her friends have recently graduated, transferred, or grown apart from her; the oven in her new house couldn't warm an ice cap; this semester packed to the gills with classes and obligations. And on top of it all, there's no car. It's looking bleak.

Her first day on the job feels every inch as apprehensive as when that same Julie Andrews character stands before the gates of the Captain's mansion.

"Oh, help," is right.

What will these young adults think of her? Will there be shouting or painful silence? AND HOW WILL SHE GET THERE TO FIND OUT?!

A call to a local taxi service later, and she's on her way.

Her knight behind the wheel: let's call him Fred. A jovial married fellow in his thirties, and never without a leprechaun's twinkle.

This other friend I've been talking about...

Surprise, it's me!

As for Fred, when I got in the car, my gut immediately trusted him, and as my anxiety began to spill out in bubbly conversation about what I was embarking upon, I discovered that it was correct in every way. I had not had an outlet to vent or bounce ideas off of anyone in a healthy way for too long, it would appear.

Straight away, this magic taxi driver assuaged my fears with some phrases and personal stories with the tact and kindness of an old friend.

All things considered, I exited the taxi and walked into the middle school with my head held high because Fred believed I could. And, perhaps most importantly, told me so.

The natural, methodical way he was able to dissect my issues, and put my mind at rest, could only be akin to any personal therapist I've ever witnessed. The knack this guy has for taking everything in stride was already remarkable.

After that first hour, I walked out, and on the 20 minute ride back to my abode debriefed Fred on what had gone down, what I was excited to continue, and what didn't work at all. To diminish the risk of sounding self-absorbed, I should extrapolate briefly that these conversations were nearly always well balanced, and he would offer many conversation points as well.

Over the course of my semester of teaching and having a good chat with Fred once a week, I truly learned the value of a friend that will listen and encourage from a place of genuine support. I also learned a great deal about him; the ways in which his life, upbringing, situation, and world view brought him such a wealth of wisdom.

What always stuck out to me was the obvious appreciation he had for everything he was given, the patience with that which was difficult, and the overwhelming empathy he held for all those he came in contact with. His job required working with a fair amount of difficult people for very little pay for up to 18 hours a day. Yet, even in stories he told me about patrons who had never paid, or destroyed his property, he would always pair the honest story with something about how he understood where they were coming from, or why he could guess that their need was greater than his own.

The story I remember most clearly revolved around a crabby woman who was rude to all who came to pick items up from her workplace for her work was most likely less than satisfying and demanded long days. This woman would barely communicate with Fred without glowering or grunting for his first few visits. But, as time wore on, and Fred continued to treat her with the utmost respect, she softened whenever he arrived. Now, he says, she smiles and talks with him about her day; on the whole, treating him the way he had been treating her all along.

Tiptoeing around preaching: "do onto others as you would have they do onto you" and all that, Fred instead reminds me that the only way to bring people out of their self-prescribed darkness is to treat them with light and love.

The current season of holidays, breaks, and Nature's most awesome metaphor: Winter Solstice, all revolve around the image of hope at the end of the tunnel. Light will return, the snow will melt, and to fit just one more cliché in for good measure: this too shall pass.

But despite the many lists telling you other more complicated ways, there is one superstrength way to help create the positive change you desire. Be like Fred.

I could not have gotten through the most difficult semester of my life without his kindly guidance and listening ear.

Bring kindness to every interaction you have with others. Meet them where they are and do not apply judgement or take things too personally. If we can all treat one another with just a little more compassion as we take strides toward a more inclusive future as a species, lives will change, and the world can dream of a more peaceful age.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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