Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Driver’s Seat

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
by taking car service home instead of waiting for the bus.

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.

All's Fare

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 could feel my shoulders coming down as I took another deep breath. Instead of stewing about this strange music or giving the driver a hard time, I decided to try another approach.

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.


Ron said...

Bravo, Rob! And not for sharing a great post, but also for putting into practice what you've recently learned through the meditation course!

"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."

Thank you for sharing that because it's something I continually have to remind myself. Especially when I'm walking down the street and someone who is walking in front of me is walking VERY slow. OMG...I get so impatient that I want to scream. I have to consciously remind myself to slow down and that that person is teaching me that lesson.

"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."

You GO, boy!

Also, I wanted to tell you that very often your posts remind me of scenes from a movie. I love the way you write!

Have a FAB week, buddy!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, what's up?

Thanks for nice things you wrote about my post. I know all about freaking out when you've got a slow walker in front of you.

Facing this impatience and dealing with it is a much better plan of action than just getting steamed. Now all we have to do is remember that when it counts.

Take care, buddy!

Anonymous said...

Hey there buddy! I need to learn to take a que from you! My urge to react is too strong often I end up in arguments that really are not worth the energy. This story here shows sometimes communication is better than arguing. Great job!

Rob K said...

Oh, thanks, Shae!

Believe me, it took a long time for me to finally temper my reactions and I have a LONG way to go.

But I know it's worth the effort and will serve to make me a better, happier person.

Take care!

CrystalChick said...

A mindfulness meditation course! Good for you! THAT sounds like something a lot of people could benefit from.
Personally, I'd have liked what your driver had on. You should see my 'international' cd collection. A bit of Moroccan Street Music, some Zimbabwe drumming, and if you've never heard the Pipa being plucked, well, you're missing out. ;) That said... I would feel the same you did at first if I was riding for too long with Rap or Country genres blaring. We should all just give a little courtesy though, like you, and turn a negative to a positive.

Bijoux said...

Asking a question is certainly the mature approach, but certainly not the first approach that comes to mind! Ha!

Rob K said...

Yes. Bijoux, I know that--but I'm trying to change my evil ways!

Rob K said...

@Mary--great point about the world music. I have a CD of Arab dance music that's really fabulous.

Rap and country would have me climbing out of the back window, but it's always good to turn a negative into a positive.

Now I'm off to YouTube to check out some pipa music.

Take care!

Rob K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Faris said...

This story is the perfect illustration of how it's not what happens to us in life but how we deal with it.

Rob K said...

Excellent point, Stephanie!