It was another full business day in Houston. As I was getting into the cab, an older African American driver greeted me with an open smile and a straight look in the eyes. He was a short and lean man, wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt and tan slacks.
“Hello, my name is Sam. How are you this morning?”
“Thanks, I’m pretty good. Running to a business breakfast, you know, nothing special, just business.”
As we drove further, Sam continued.
“That’s good. Business means having a job, and having a job today is great news. I’ve been driving this cab for over 30 years, and I enjoy every single day. And I think that we should give thanks every day. Every single day.”
Sam seemed so content with his life, I thought out loud. He really likes what he does.
“Oh, yes, I indeed am very happy.” Sam went on to recount the joys of his childhood to me, moving from Louisiana to Houston at a young age.
I kept thinking to myself that he must have faced hardship and struggle, yet this strain never came through his narrative. How could that be?
He continued, “I’ve noticed one thing in life – those people who were optimistic, who greeted every day with a smile, who thanked God for being here, they were happier than others. Throughout all of my life this has been a fact for me.”
He went on to talk about his experience in Vietnam, and what brought him through it. It wasn’t only his optimism – how can one maintain that in war? – but also something from his mother.
“My mother taught me two things. First, she taught me one single prayer. She said, son, you’ve got to pray when you feel bad or out of place. Remember this prayer for me. And I did.
The second thing that she taught me was to look only at best in people. She said, son, so many people are messed up, the world is messed up, and there is a lot bad things happening every single day. And you know what? There is good and bad in every man. All you have to do is to find the good in people.
Don’t judge them for their misdeeds. Just find that piece of goodness in everyone you’re talking to. You’ll see what happens. You’ll see that people’s spirit would rise to the occasion, because every man is seeking the higher purpose.
Because the human soul needs more than just bread and butter. It needs trust and encouragement from another human being. Go and seek this in people you meet with. Remember that I love you.”
“I always remembered my mother’s advice to place trust in another man’s heart. And I did. And I know that I tried hard to be the best man for these people I met out there. I knew that the moment of life that we shared was good for both of us.”
As we reached our destination, Sam shook my hand, looked in my eyes and said, “Enjoy every single moment of this life and trust yourself to give the best of yourself to another human soul. Good luck!”
And I thought, this taxi driver philosopher has it right on the mark. Amid all of the rush of each day, let’s take a minute to give thanks for our blessings and to see the best in each person we meet.