On my way home from LAX, after sitting inside an airplane with a few dozen obnoxious teenagers, my plane landed and once I picked up my checked luggage, I grabbed a NYC taxi.
I immediately noticed, as I had many times before, that almost all cabbies are talking on their cell phones, even though New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission has banned the devices—even hands-free ones—for years.
These conversations are free-flowing, constant things, often in languages I don't speak, and in time I became fascinated with the habit. Did they talk on the phone merely out of boredom? Did they just speak to other cab drivers about where to go and where to avoid? Who could possibly sustain such a seemingly never-ending dialogue with another human being? I decided to interrupt and engage in my own conversation, which I could understand and participate in.
So I started asking this cab driver about who he was talking to. He said it was his wife and this was a perfect introduction to talk about kids and grandchildren. It turns out I had just visited them and met a new granddaughter in the process.for several days. The conversation lasted all the way until I arrived at home with a $60 bill and after also teaching the African native a little Spanish.