I jumped in the taxi at 0515 on a busy street still pulsing with early morning clubbing pros. I hoped in the taxi and struck up a quick conversation.He, Kazi, from Pakistan, me an ex-pat of 15 years originally from America. After a robust conversation about Afghanistan, I asked him how long and why he moved here.
He moved here, 18 months ago he told me. Right before the pandemic really hit to study a Masters degree.
“Do you have any family here?” I asked him“No, I’m all alone” he said
My heart sank. He’s 28, an international student, no family, slogging it out driving a taxi, in the middle of a pandemic and he’s isolated. I could feel a swelling need to ask questions, because the space that was created by his admission of being alone, coupled with my lived experience as an ex-pat — I knew what he was experiencing may actually be really tough.
Maybe you all it intuition, or maybe you call it a deep yearning to see the humanness in people, but I knew I had to ask the questions.
“Are you ok?” I courageously asked
He paused, let out a big exhale…“I’m actually not ok. Thank you for asking. I’m actually really not.”
This is what happens when we dig into our intuition, we can often create spaces for healing, transparency, and connection. When we pump the breaks on it, we can sometimes miss opportunities to see someone when they are desperate to be seen.
We kept chatting. He about his struggles finding community, where he lightly touched on navigating/deconstructing his faith…I could tell he was wobbly.
He’s tired, lonely, and doing a full-time degree as an international student driving taxi at all hours of the night to make ends meet.
As I got out of the taxi to pay, I knew I had to say something. I couldn’t just leave the conversation we had as it was. I felt like I needed to share encouragement, but I also needed to be genuine. Consider it a ‘taxi side sermon’.
I crouched down at the passenger door and I looked at him and said “get help if you need it. Don’t suffer in silence. And, don’t lose your faith. Religion is religion — your connection to God is your own and it will sustain you. God is bigger, don’t let that go.”
He waited til I wheeled my suitcase away. My heart broke for him — because I get it. Sometimes we just have to speak into situations, follow our intuition to ask tough questions, hold space for the answer, and hold fast that our soundbites of wisdom and encouragement give hope.
So ask bold questions, follow your intuition, and be courageous in your answers. Courage breeds life-giving moments that keep us going, so often when we feel we have nothing left.
Thanks Kazi for your courage, may you go well.