Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Comments From Cabbies

This morning, Raj and I had some "issues" relating to the impending move and our relationship come up while we were both at work. We were both tired and far too stressed out to deal with the issues in a mature, rational and loving manner. He said he couldn't talk. I freaked out. I did not handle myself well. I was not mature. I was not balanced. There were tears, some raised voices, and some nasty expressions of hurt and anger flying at one another over email. It was not pretty. Email fights are just not a good idea. It's too easy to pound the keyboard and hit the all caps button when you're feeling hurt and angry, and hardly anything positive ever comes out of it. There's always a need for extensive cleanup to fix the mess of bruised feelings and ragged emotions.

After work today, once we had both calmed down enough to remember that we care about one another, we met at Raj's office and grabbed a cab to go to his house to "talk." The cleanup process began in the cab, while we were still thawing, not quite ready to smile at each other. He told me that one of my particularly angry emails was "unacceptable," and that it made him question whether he wanted to be in a relationship with "the kind of person" who could write that email. I told him that if he was questioning whether he wanted to be with me, then we probably shouldn't be in a relationship. I said I didn't want to be with someone who brought up breaking up every single time we had a fight. It's impossible to feel secure in that type of situation. The conversation was calm, but weighty.

In New York, riding in the back of dark cabs speeding through the city, with cabbies who are often far too busy talking on their cell phones to pay more attention to their passengers than is required to ask "where to?," I often get lulled into feeling secure and safe in what oftentimes feels like your own private, albeit tempory, space. It's relaxing and calming, a brief respite away from the din of the cars and the throngs of people rushing up and down the sidewalks. I often take advantage of those moments of relative peace to catch up on my phone calls to friends and family, or to just relax.

In almost a year and half in New York, until tonight, I had only one negative experience with a cab driver. That time my cabbie was either mentally unstable, a daredevil driver, or on drugs. He took me on a careening trip through the city, alternating between speeding and violently breaking, causing me and the car to jerk around uncomfortably. Each time this would happen, he would cackle and burst into laughter. I'm serious, the man actually cackled. Repeatedly. On that occasion, I was genuinely alarmed, and a little afraid, and considered taking my chances on opening the back door and rolling out onto the pavement. Ultimately, I reached my destination safely, but it was unnerving. With that one exception, and excluding tonight, every cab driver I have ever had the opportunity to ride with in New York has been either friendly, professional, or has paid no attention to me whatsoever.

Tonight, however, I met a mean cabbie. When Raj and I reached Raj's apartment building, I got out of the cab and stood a few feet away on the sidewalk waiting for Raj to pay. Raj was looking through his bags for singles, so a few moments passed before he was ready to get out of the cab. I was standing on the sidewalk, trying to politely wait for him as a show of good will, twisting my feet back and forth. I turned away from the cab and then turned back to see if Raj was making any progress.

As I turned back around, my eyes met the eyes of the cab driver who was staring directly at me out of his open window. I saw him clearly for the first time. He was a brown-skinned man with a white turban wrapped around his head. He was glaring at me and had a nasty look on his face. His stare was aggressive and I felt like he was giving me the evil eye. I felt uncomfortable, but then shook my discomfort away and told myself I was just being silly.

I broke eye contact with the cab driver, who was still staring at me, and walked towards the open door where Raj was still counting his money. He seemed to be fumbling, and he asked me to help him with one of his bags, which I did. He was a bit brusque, but I thought it was because we had just started our thawing process. Raj got out and shut the door and as we were walking towards his apartment, and as the cab was driving away, Raj told me that the cab driver had said something about me. I asked him what the cab driver said. Raj told me that the cab driver had asked him in English whether I was his girlfriend. Raj had replied, "yes," and then the cab driver said something nasty about me in hindi. Raj doesn't understand hindi, so he didn't know what the cab driver said, but he felt sure that it was nasty and that it was directed at me.

The minute Raj told me, I started to cry. It was too much. All the stress about moving, all the work I have to get done, trying to have fun with my mom while she is here, and then all of the other relationship issues that Raj and I have, including the fact that he is Indian and I am white, and his family would prefer that it was otherwise. On top of all that, this Indian cab driver takes it upon himself to tell Raj something nasty about me. How mean! I'm always nice to cab drivers. I would never judge him because he is brown or because he's wearing a turban, yet he judged me because of the conversation that Raj and I had, and because I'm white and I'm dating and Indian man. Granted, I don't know this for sure, but that's what it seemed like. For the third time this week, I find myself wanting to cry and say it's not fair. Because it's not.

When we got upstairs, I blubbered out that the "hindi cab driver hates me and he doesn't think we should be together, and he thinks I'm nothing because he heard you say that you didn't know if you wanted to be with someone who wrote that email, and that's a horrible thing to say - to say that you are going to break up with someone over just one fight - and you shouldn't say that lightly because it's mean and it hurts me, and the cab driver knew it was mean, and he was mean to me too, and he starred at me like he hated me just because I'm white and because I'm with you, and he thinks the same as your family, that you shouldn't be with me..." Cry. Cry. Cry.

Raj said, "First of all, the cab driver was a Sikh. Second of all, I made clear that I was having none of it. Damn it, I shouldn't have tipped him. Third of all, your race and my race have nothing to do with the problems we're having related to moving... Sweetie, can you please forget about the cab driver?" He also suggested that the cabbie may have made that comment because he was of a variety of male that believed that women should be silent and obey their boyfriends. Raj said that I'm "spunky" and that's the way he likes me. Sweet of Raj to say, but whether it was because I'm white or a spunky woman, it was still unnecessary.

I tried to forget, and we talked and we resolved some things, but not everything. After an hour, when we had mostly defrosted, I had to leave. He has work to do, I have work to do, and it's my mom's last night in town. I already feel intensely guilty for not being able to spend enough time with her during the last few days, and for being stressed and a brat during the little time that we actually got to hang out together. I hate feeling like a horrible daughter, but that's often how I feel when we hang out. I get too easily annoyed at little things. I should be better and more understanding. I love her a lot and I should communicate that better.

So I left him, even though I hate letting things go when there are still things left to be said between us. Still misinterpretations that need to be unravelled and hurt feelings that need to be soothed. I hope we'll be able to do that during the next few days, and I hope we'll get through this moving stress and that things will calm down and we'll find that we're happy sharing the same space. I think we will, or I would not have contemplated moving in together. But man is it hard to remember that in the heat of hurt feelings.

One thing we do not need during this stressful time, or ever, are mean stupid cabbies sticking their nose into our business. Even if we did bring it onto ourselves by talking about such weighty issues in the back of the cabbie's cab. He still should not have said anything, and he should not have given me the evil eye. Mean cabbie.


Wood said...

ugh. sorry you're going through so much. you don't need to deal with asswipe cab drivers in addition.

hope things calm down for you soon.

Ally Bean said...

what a jerk. blah to him. [<=== oh yes, such strong language! whatever has come over me?]

wordnerd said...

Hey Buttercup, I found your site through dutch and wood's site and have been reading for awhile (but commenting for the first time).

Moving sucks and is difficult (emotionally and physically) in the best of times. There's something about such a fundamental change that almost always brings about raw emotions making us so vulnerable to hurt and bruising. I have been there many times.

Sorry you had a dickhead cab driver that made things worse!

Good luck in getting things sorted out, I am sure that you and Raj will be just fine once this chaos is over with.

Heather said...

Oh email can be so dangerous. I sent a couple of really mean emails to Brian when I was pregnant that took a lot of talking to undo. I blamed it on being pregnant. Moving stress is definitely a good thing to blame it on too.

And that cab driver's asshat behavior is going to come back to him.

Prue said...

Spunky is right. Good luck with the move, Buttercup. It is going to work out.