My driver’s name is Qlad. He’s just graduated as a bio-molecular scientist from Curtin. Today is his first day driving taxis and I am his first customer. He’s never really had a high opinion of taxi drivers so it’s a bit of a sad day for him, but he’s determined to make the most of it. There’s not much work in his chosen field – he says to me later “I used to be a clever man” and I explain that he still is, he just needs to find someone to pay him to be clever – and he’s just returned from 3 month trip to Houston and Texas, so he needed a job.
He moved to Australia in 2008 from Iran where he was a freelance journalist. He’d write blogs about what was going on over there, only to be continually be blocked by the government. “Every time they’d block my story, I’d have to find a new way to get my stories out” he says.
I asked if he’d ever consider going back to Iran; he tells me it wouldn’t be safe. His involvement in demonstrations over here would mean he’d be sent to jail if he ever re-entered the country, so it’s not a very appealing option. We talk about the people in Iran – they’re nice people, he says, but they’re not treated well by their government.
He asks me about my work, and I explain what I do. He tells me he could never work in a call centre – “Too many angry people”. We talk about my film degree. I tell him of the hurdles of working in film, but honestly, right now they seem pretty insignificant. He asks me about my choice of editing package – Final Cut. He’s only used iMovie. I explain these days they’re not much different.
He suggests I could always get a job in oil and gas. His friend is a trainer earning a lot of money. I tell him it’s a bit dangerous for me. I don’t like the idea of working somewhere I could be crushed by machine. He laughs and tells me his friend works in a class room, not on site. It’s very safe.
We arrive at the airport and finish our conversation. I go to pay, only to find he never turned the meter on. Because it’s his first day, I’m his first customer and it’s Christmas, my ride is free. I insist on giving him a tip, and eventually he accepts. I give him the only note I have on me and kick myself for not having more.
He helps me with my bag, I shake his hand, wish him luck with his new job and head off to board.
Take from this story what you will. For me, it’s a pretty timely reminder to be grateful for what I have, and not waste time complaining about the things that don’t matter. Thank you Qlad for reminding me that people can be awesome.