This morning nothing seemed to go my way. I slept through my alarm. I missed my bus. Then I missed the second bus I take when the first one leaves me stranded in heels and running down Columbus Avenue cursing the red tail lights fading off into the distance.
So there I was, panting in my wedges and pondering how I was going to make it to the train on time, when a cab flagged me down on the sidewalk. It was brand new and smelled like fresh leather. It was the driver’s first time behind the wheel of the new Toyota hybrid and I was his first fare of the day. Lucky me!
He turned off the radio so we could chat the entire way down to the Caltrain station. For some people, at 6:45 a.m., that may be a little early for small talk. But I thought the gesture was sweet. Turns out we are both San Francisco transplants. He was born and raised in Japan before coming to the U.S., making brief stops in LA and Vegas before finally settling in the city.
He gleefully told me all about his new vehicle and how he was still getting used to it. He showed me how to turn the car on and off with a push button, and how the engine switches back and forth on battery power. He highlighted its performance and giggled each time the engine turned over. The whole trip lasted less than 8 minutes but it made my morning. Especially our final exchange.
CABBIE: You know, I’ve never driven a car made in Japan before. My first car was a Ford.
ME: That’s funny. My first car was a Subaru.
CABBIE: [laughing.] Next time, I drive you to Japan in this.
ME: I would like that.
I like that a random stranger can change the course of your day. I like the idea that a simple exchange can alter your mood. I believe happiness is contagious. So as one of my New Year’s goals I am trying to be more positive. A colleague remarked yesterday that being more positive is not something I can easily quantify, so how will I know if I am achieving my goal? I think that by engaging in similar conversations with strangers it will be evidence enough.