Ahmed* and Vera, sitting in a tree
"So when are we gonna get together?" he had asked me at the airport last week.
"I don't know," I had said.
"Do you like to take a break when you're working?"
"Maybe we can have lunch then."
"When do you work?"
"Mondays and Thursdays."
"Okay. I'll call you Thursday."
My cell phone rang at 10:20am on Thursday.
"Hi Vera. How are you?"
He asked me if I wanted to have lunch that day. I said yes. He said that he was at the airport and that he would call me when he was back in the city.
At 12:01 my phone rang again.
"Hey. Where are you?"
"Washington and Battery."
"Oh. I'm at Washington and Front."
"No way. Haha. That's perfect."
"Yes, it is. Pull over and wait for me, and then you can follow me."
Two minutes later, his taxi van passed me. We waved at each other and then I followed him. He made the light at California and Sansome but I didn't. A minute later I knew why because as I was waiting at the light my friend Rosie turned from Sansome onto California and waved at me. If I hadn't had to stop at the light I would never have seen her. I love when that happens.
But I didn't want to miss any more lights so I sped up. Just then Ahmed made a left off of California between Kearny and Grant, the secret cab driver alley to get to Pine that I didn't know much about. I almost missed the turn but barely made it. On Pine Ahmed slowed down. I was thankful. I also started thinking how funny it would be if one of us picked up a flag. But there were no people flagging us down, so that temptation didn't exist, only the temptation to have lunch with a crush even when there is a marriage involved.
We both parked on the left side of Jones between Post and Geary. We went to an Indian restaurant. Ahmed told me that this area was called Little India. I had not known that.
I had Mixed Vegetable Korma and he had Chicken Tikka Masala, and we had rice and naan and water. We talked about dispatchers, our brothers and sisters, what we wished our parents had done differently. We talked about our different cultures and upbringings and what kinds of things the people from our cultures typically struggle with. He told me that in his culture, people don't have time for emotions. "You just keep going", he said. I told him that I had a lot of emotional problems. He told me that on average he has about ten fares to and from the airport every day. I was shocked. The most I had ever had was six, I think, and the average was about three. He paid for lunch. How cute, I thought, just like a date.
On the way back to our cars he said "Now I have a German friend." "Yep!" I said.
When we got to his car, there was a parking ticket on it. "Awwww", I said.
*Name changed to protect the married cab driver.