I was rushing off to the airport to catch a flight. I berated myself for oversleeping as I flew down my apartment stairs in a frenzy, wrapping my head in a scarf as the cold winter wind whispered on my face. I flagged the first cab I saw and jumped in. Rapidly firing off instructions to the driver, I promised him a shamelessly large amount of money if he could get me to the airport in half the time. He was an elderly man, about in his 60’s. He laughed softly at my panic and drove. As we reached the main highway, we got caught in a massive jam.
Fantastic. I thought.
“I wonder what’s going on,” he said.
“The universe is screwing me over.” I muttered bitterly.
It seemed that a lorry had overturned on the road, causing a pile-up. I sunk back into my seat with a resigned sigh.
“Looks like we’re going to be here a while,” he chuckled.
No sh*t, Sherlock.
I buried my face in my hands and tried to concentrate on calming down my heartbeat.
“You know, today is a special day.”
The over-enthusiastic cab driver was making small talk.
“You’re my one hundred thousandth customer.”
I lifted my head and raised one eyebrow at him. Was this guy for real?
“How do you know that?”
“I keep track of all my customers. And math is my best subject.” I saw him smile widely through the rear view mirror.
“How long have you been a cab driver?”
“Oh, I don’t know, since I was about 32 or 33. Right after I graduated from University.”
“You went to university?!” I immediately felt embarrassed at implying this man should have no education simply because he was a taxi driver.
But it’s true, I thought, if you had a Degree, why would you be working as a taxi driver?
Turns out Mr. Woo-jin Bak not only had two Degrees but a Masters and PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the leading university in Seoul!
I was mind-blown.
“Why are you driving a cab for a living?!” I spluttered, my eyes wide in disbelief.
“Haha, because I like it.”
I listened intently as he went on to say how he did try working in an office but it was too stuffy for him. He preferred meeting strangers daily and listening to their stories. He enjoys helping them get to their destinations safely. He just enjoys it all. He loves his job and everything it entails.
“Most of all, I enjoy getting people to the airport on time without them worrying that they’ll be late.” He turned around and smiled at me gently as he said that.
Oh! My flight! I suddenly snapped back to reality. I looked around and realized I was at the airport entrance. My watch said I had 20 minutes to check-in. He did it. He actually managed to get me to my destination in half the time. And I didn’t even realize it. I was too busy listening to his story.
I thanked him profusely for getting me to the airport so quickly and ran down to grab my luggage.
Before I paid him, he asked for one favour; that I take a Polaroid picture with him.
“I’ve been taking pictures of my customers recently, especially the ones I really like and with whom I have enjoyed their company,” he winked at me.
I gladly complied.
It’s weird, knowing that somewhere out there there’s a Korean cab driver who has your picture. But more than that, I walked away that day with an extremely golden nugget;
Do what you love. Love what you do.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Based on a truly inspirational story by Amin Daldiri
On a side note: Never give up.
On another side note:
Thinking of: Arthur Booman, never giving up, the delicate balance, Blue’s Curtain Falls, Peterpan’s Mimpi yang Sempurna and the script of my life.