I took one look at the Egyptian flag and pyramid souvenir dangling from the rear-view mirror and with a hint of sarcasm I asked the cab driver where he was from. As he passionately replied, “I’m from Egypt!” I remembered sarcasm doesn’t translate in this part of the world. I let my eyes take in the eclectic taxi décor: the orange shag seat covers, the plastic mats on the floor with colorful flashing lights. Prior to getting into the cab, I had felt a bit woozy and worried I might be carsick. Now the flashing lights added to that anxiety. Everyone all around me seems to be getting sick: students, co-workers, friends, neighbors. So far, I’ve been young and healthy enough to only become briefly and sporadically infected. The taxi driver asked me where I was from and when I answered, “America,” he cheered, perhaps thinking an American woman in the backseat would perk up the atmosphere of his already pimpin’ ride. “Las Vegas!” he added. “I’m not that kind of American,” I told him.
He asked me if I liked music and handed me a thin cable, which I gathered I was supposed to plug into my phone. “I need to listen to your music,” he said intensely, which made me laugh. I clicked on my “Chill” playlist and Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” came on. The driver managed to politely veil his disappointment. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, trying to ignore the flashing lights that were clashing with my chill vibe. When that song finished, Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” came on. “So romantic,” the taxi driver commented.
Then he asked me something profound and personal: “Do you have a life?” I laughed again, thinking it was my slow, sentimental taste in music that inspired this question. “I have a small life,” I responded. For the rest of the ride, I pondered if the life I’m currently living truly qualifies as “a life.” I’m working harder than ever. I’m learning a lot. I have sparse time to work on my own creative projects. I ran a 10k last month. Is that a life? Maybe I should invest in some flashing lights and shag carpets.
I went home to put on makeup. I was going to hang out with a male friend. Knowing I had a social engagement made me feel that I did indeed have some semblance of a life. But then he cancelled. He’s sick. Before experiencing my small fleeting flu symptoms, I had been privately mocking all the people whining that they were “sick.” But apparently, there’s a serious bug going around. Let’s hope some other bugs make the rounds, like the “Not working so hard” bug, the “Sleeping through the night” bug, or the “Time to read and write for pleasure” bug. Then I could answer the question, “Do you have a life?” with an emphatic “Abso-(explitive)-lutely.”