The cab driver’s kids.
As a business speaker, I love to talk to people about their businesses. After the end of the Inside Self Storage World Expo, I jumped into a cab to take me to McCarran airport and home. I had been gone from home for what seemed like a very long time. The cab driver was playing a CD of music that sounded East African and had a nice beat and an endearing melody. So I struck up a conversation.
I said, “I am enjoying this song. What language are they singing in?” “Ethiopian”, he said proudly. So we chatted about music and we chatted about how busy Las Vegas seemed this week. He asked me if I had ever been to Africa or to Ethiopia. I said I had not, but that I had heard that Ethiopia was a beautiful land.
The cab driver’s kids live in Ethiopia in a small town outside of Addis Ababa. He hasn’t been home to see them in a year. When he can go, it takes him 19 hours to fly from Las Vegas to Washington-Dulles, where he has a four hour layover before flying to Rome to connect to the flight to Ethiopia.
Last year he was home to see his kids twice. One time a few years ago, he flew through Frankfurt on Lufthansa and saved two hours of layover time.
The can driver sends his wife $300.00 a month. That is enough to support the cab driver’s wife, the cab driver’s two kids and his brother’s family. They don’t live in style, but they manage to get by. There is little work in Ethiopia and even less cash. So a few American Dollars become significant.
The cab driver used to live in California, but the cost of living was too high. In California he had to drive a cab 16 hours a day, six days a week in order to be able to send home $300.00 a month. In Las Vegas, he can make more money, spend less money and save a little money driving 12 hours a day, six days a week.
He lives in a cheap apartment he shares with three other cab drivers who send money home to their families every month in Ethiopia, Somalia and Iraq.
He is saving money to bring his family over to the U.S. He just finished getting his US citizenship. It took him three years and about $2,000 to make it happen. There are no opportunities for his children in Ethiopia. His oldest child is a ten year old boy. At 14, the army will come and take him away. He doesn’t have a lot of time to get his children out.
He hopes his kids will get a good education in the US. He hopes they will not fall in with a bad crowd of kids when they get here. He hopes the corruption and inconsistencies in the Ethiopian system won’t prevent him from getting his family here before his boy is conscripted. In the US he can have some hopes for the future.
As we pulled up to the curb at the American Airlines door, I told him I would complain less about being gone from my kids when I travel for work. I wished him luck. And I wished his kids luck, too.