What I Learned About Slowing Down From a Taxi Driver

by | Goals and stuff, Real Talk

If time was a credit card, could you say that you use your credit line on things that matter the most to you? When I think about this question, I can’t say that I always do.

Factor in work, life, friends, family, (and maybe self), who has time to make time? Little did I know I would get an unexpected reminder, ironically, when I was rushing.

It was a holiday weekend and I was rushing to make an appointment, and I made a mad dash out of my house to catch a taxi.

Luckily, one pulled over immediately as I waved my hand. I slid inside, breathing out of one nostril (from fighting a cold) and dabbed the sweat that accumulated above my lips within half a block.

Still catching my breath, I gave the taxi driver the address where I was headed to, and then he asked, “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” I mumbled still sweating and one-nostril breathing.

I started to fiddle with my bag doing a mental check of everything I should have and pulled out my phone to “multitask.”

“Which way do you want to take?”

“The cheapest and quickest works for me,” I answered and buried my head back into my phone.

Next thing you know, I felt the taxi make a U-turn. I looked up to see what was going on (as a New York native and someone who watches the Investigation Discovery channel, I always make sure I’m not dealing with “the killer”).

The meter was already at $12 barely five minutes into the ride because of catching every red light, so I looked up wondering what the heck he was doing.

He must have noticed. “I can’t take this way so I need to turn around,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’ll cut the meter off.”

“Oh, okay. Thank you,” I said cautiously, and went back to my phone.

“Any plans for the weekend?” he asked, not taking the clue that I was occupied.

“Yes, resting and relaxing with my husband,” I said, subtly letting him know I was married. Not to say that my baseball cap, frizzy hair, and sweaty upper-lip made me an irresistible goddess, but I’m all about setting clear expectations up front.

He got the hint and quietly navigated through the traffic. I looked up from my phone and mentioned how I could not believe the amount of traffic.

“Yeah, people are out,” he said. “I’m usually driving everyone where they need to go but never have the time to go anywhere myself.”

That’s a good point, I thought, considering he looked like he could have easily been in his early 30s. Suddenly intrigued by that small glimpse of his life he shared, I asked him how he got into driving a taxi.

He explained that the pursuit of entrepreneurship and building a savings motivated him so that he can be an example to his sons. I’m a sucker for career talk and business-minded people and continued to ask questions and share my thoughts.

Without realizing it, my phone went from being in my hand back into my bag. The ride flew from there. By the time I got to my destination, I forgot I was running late—I was actually right on time.

To top it all off, he insisted on giving me a further discount on the fare because he didn’t have any change. It was a kind gesture that I humbly accepted as I wished him well.

Such a random conversation reminded me how easy it is to isolate yourself in the guise of being “busy” (my least favorite four-letter word).

It’s easy to forget to indulge in simple things like a casual conversation, reaching out to someone who has been on your mind, sending a handwritten note to say “thank you,” or reaching out to an old colleague. These all sound simple enough but these things are what keep us from getting disconnected.

Why does it matter?

Because we thrive when we are connected to the people around us, our dreams, and our goals. Better yet, passion and purpose keep you grounded when you’re just rushing through life.

Believe me, I don’t speak from a high horse (more like a tall pony) because I certainly fall short of using my time the way I should. But I do try to remember that time is fleeting.

While there are so many things in life that you can spend time doing, sometimes the only thing required is that you’re mindful of how you spend it.

Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.

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