Waiting for a taxi at the airport curb, I recalled saying goodbye to my youngest daughter days earlier. Casey was so excited to be going off to college for the first time, and yet disappointed I wouldn’t be moving her in to the dorms given my speaking schedule. My sweetheart and I were also going to be in different places for the next 10 days as well.
“Where are you going?” My female driver spoke crystal clear English, though she was from the Philippines. Happy to have my thoughts interrupted by her welcoming smile, I struck up a conversation with Helen.
In our 15-minute ride we shared rapid-fire conversation as if we were long-lost friends with only seconds to catch up. Helen, who works seven days a week, has been the bread-winner over the last 20 years for her family of three children (now 27, 25 and 23) and aging parents back in her homeland. She became a widow when her children were only 7, 5 and 3. When I complimented her on her perfect English, she laughed and said, “It’s because of my first nanny job when I arrived in the States. Those children were relentless about correcting my English!” Helen worked hard and even became a medical assistant, but given lay-offs, has driven the yellow taxi for the past three years.
Only moments before exiting the taxi I asked, “When did you last visit your family?” “Oh, I haven’t been able to see them since I left the Philippines 20 years ago as there just isn’t enough money left over to travel after sending home money to get the kids through college and now support my aging parents. I am so proud of my children, and now with Skype we get to talk all the time. In fact, when I get off my shift the first thing I do is call my daughter. I’m so lucky.”
“Wow. So am I to have met you, Helen.”