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Taxi from Heathrow

On this particular Sunday, the tube from Heathrow into town wasn't working. Father was tired, and so was I. So queuing for a cab was the automatic thing to do.

The driver asked if we knew where we were going. I said yes and told him where to go. We waited for him to go to the traffic warden. But he turned around and hurried us, "Go on. Get in the cab." Instinctively I knew something wasn't right.

I dismissed my female intuition and got in the cab with my father. He made the turn I had suggested around the same time that I discovered that it was a turn too early. So he got back on the road, only to meet a traffic jam. Seeing that the next turn wasn't correct either, I told him that it was the one after that. He didn't respond. So I repeated myself.

"Yes. Yes. Yes. I heard you. I KNOW," he said in a very irritated voice.

I quickly said, "You don't have to be rude."

This started a negative spiral. Our communication broke down. He didn't want to be in a traffic jam. I reminded him that I didn't either - and that I was paying for it. Back and forth. Back and forth.

By the time we got home, I was absolutely fuming.

I exaggerated that my father had a heart condition and that he didn't have to make our trip so unpleasant. He replied that he got a heart condition from driving us.

"Perhaps you should get a different job," I retorted.

"It's easy for you to say so. You're young."

While I was huffing and puffing, my father had already gotten out of the cab and proceeded to open the front door. He then went upstairs to take a bath.

"Aren't you mad?" I stopped him.

"What for? We had a good trip in the Netherlands. He had a bad day. So what?"

"But he spoiled our trip by being rude to us," I challenged.

"You're way above him. You can say that we've returned from a long flight. But he might never have flown even a short flight. Why bother arguing with him?"

Yes, why indeed. Why waste my time, energy, and emotions on something as petty as this? I should just dismiss it rather than to try to get even.

"That's why I don't like taking taxi's," I said to my father. "You never know how you will be treated."

My father said instead, "Anne, there's a Chinese saying: take a step backward, and you will leap over the clouds."

I guess he means that sometimes we should retreat to go forward. Or as the English saying goes, don't try to "win the battle but lose the war."

At his age, he should know. Just rise above it - and preserve my energy for a more worthwhile cause.

22 July 2001

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