I climbed into the back seat of my ride and got comfortable.
I just had come from an appointment with my nutritionist and I decided to reward myself
It’s more money, sure, but the driver takes you right to your front door and you don’t have to worry about some mutant coughing all over you, hitting you up for change, or trying to save your soul.
Yeah, I thought as snapped on my seat belt, this was a good idea.
And then the music started.
Oh, cut me a break, buddy, will you? The driver was playing some kind of Middle Eastern music that was slicing right through me.
Bay Ridge has seen a large growth in its Arabic population over the years, with some wags sarcastically calling it “Beirut.”
There are mosques in the neighborhood now, women in hijabs are a common sight and it seems like every other store on Fifth Avenue is either a hookah joint or a Middle Eastern coffee shop.
It’s certainly much different from the place where I grew up, but neighborhoods have always changed and they always will.
Still, I was tired and I resented this invasion of my moving personal space.
This is bullshit, I harumphed. I’m paying for this ride, damn it. I shouldn’t have to listen to anything I don’t want to hear.
I thought of the very few times in my life when I had ridden in a limousine. The drivers always asked me what I wanted to hear, not what they felt like playing.
The last time something like this happened was several years ago when my sister and I took our father to see Riverdance at Radio City Music Hall.
On that night the same car service driver took us into Manhattan and back to Brooklyn and during both rides we had to suffer through the ravings of right wing radio psycho Michael Savage.
I’m still regret not telling that schmuck of a driver to turn off the goddamn radio and get back on his meds.
And now I was in the same situation all over again. I wasn’t just annoyed at the driver, I was also angry with myself for not setting this guy straight.
Then I took a deep breath. I recently completely an 8-week mindfulness meditation course at the Interdependence Project in an effort to go through life just a tad less insane.
One of the concepts we discussed in the idea of loving kindness, where you develop compassion for all people and not just the people who look and think like you.
I was going to talk to him.
“What is this music?” I asked.
“It’s the Call to Prayer,” my driver said. “You know, like when the church rings the bells? This is same thing.”
Okay, so we found some common ground here. We talked a little bit more before the driver pulled up in front of my place. I wished him a good night, gave him a couple of bucks for a tip and went up to my apartment feeling pretty good.
I hadn’t backed down, given in or surrendered. I tried to open up a line of communication and in the process I learned a little bit about another culture and a lot more about myself.
I still don’t think drivers should play anything in the car when they’ve got passengers, but I’ll gladly take the Islamic call to pray over Michael Savage any day of the week.
I always talk about how I want to improve my health. Well, I think controlling my temper and trying to find the best in people is an important step.
It takes a lot of energy to keep that chip on my shoulder and I’d much rather put it down.