New York cab drivers are a species unto themselves. Stepping into a taxi on the streets of Manhattan is often an act of faith, but sometimes one is treated to a little interlude that can reveal outlooks, experiences and passions that open our eyes to the world around us. Tales of new immigrants, struggling musicians, aspiring comedians and life stories as varied as the thousands of men who cruise the streets in their yellow sedans.
Take last weekend for example. It was a bitterly cold day, one of so many we've had this winter. The taxi pulled up and 4 of us piled in with one riding in the front seat with the driver. The cabbie, a middle aged man with a mane of gray hair, rocketed down Ninth Avenue defying buses and other vehicles to impede his thruway. After someone made a comment about his playing "chicken" with the bus drivers, he said "Don't worry, they're big but they're sissies. I've been driving this cab for years and in my spare time I race rallye cars in my native Romania."
He continued, his intensity growing, his driving fast but admittedly skillful, "I dream of cars. I LOVE cars. My daughter loves cars. She's twelve years old! Here's a picture of her. She's beautiful, no? Now, look at these, this is what I am fantasizing about" and he handed back a sheaf of color printouts of exotic race cars that cost in the 6 figure range. We progressed down the avenue, making very good time, as he flipped through a car catalog to show us the latest in race cars. "You see that one," pointing at a vehicle that looked almost like a spaceship, "that one costs $900,000 but it goes like crazy." He waved with his hands as his fervor grew. And then he said "I know I can never afford a car like that. I've been here 35 years and I have a wife and children. So what do I do? I dream. Every day I get in my yellow Crown Victoria and rev the engine. For me, it's my Lamborghini." It was a moment of pure magic.
George Ciorobara, I salute you! Your passion is an inspiration to us all. Please, don't ever give up on your dream.