November 22, 2007

A message of thanks to Abdul.

I arrived in London last Friday a little tired, a little stressed, a little frazzled, and more than just a little upset. My flight from LaGuardia was delayed by several hours, I was still recovering from illness that was impeding my sleep, and worst of all, my luggage was lost and Air Canada was not being very helpful in trying to locate my bag.

Thankfully, that was the day I met Abdul. Abdul was my taxi driver that not only drove me to the clothing store to by new clothes, but helped me with my shopping, drove me back to the hotel, and waited in the car to drive me to my meeting after I was dressed.

Apart from the wonderful service he provided, Abdul was my hero that Friday for several reasons. First, he was able to see my distress and accommodated me accordingly: he stopped for coffee, he suggested places to shop, he let me take my time when I needed my time.

Second, Abdul made me feel like a friend rather than a passenger. He asked me about my troubles, he encouraged me to sit in the front seat, and he even helped me pick out a new sweater.

Finally, Abdul was my hero that Friday because, despite my dour temperament, he taught me so much in the few hours I spent with him.

See, Abdul moved to London from Afghanistan ten years ago to escape the war. He is still working on the paperwork to bring his wife and kids to London from Pakistan.

Through our conversations, Abdul shared some of his life stories with me, and through them I was reminded of a few lessons:

  • There is no substitute for hard work. Abdul attributes his survival and success in London to the fact that he put his heart and soul into his work. Success is dependent on how much you’re willing to work on your task.
  • *There is a time and place for frivolousness.** Abdul sees so many people who spend more on going Friday and Saturday nights than they make in a five-day work week. There is a time and place for fun, but it is important to keep it in context of your life’s priorities.
  • Everyone you meet is a vessel for learning. Abdul told me that he learns something new from every person that sits in his taxi. Because of this, he sees passengers not as clients, but as launchpads for discovery and exploration.

In a few short hours, Abdul was my friend, sympathizer, and teacher. By the time I got to my meeting that evening, I had forgotten about all my travel woes and was ready for a productive weekend ahead of me.

So I’m writing this today to say thank you to Abdul. Sometimes kindness, compassion, and insight can be found in the most unexpected places.