Shy

I always love Aberdeen Street

Taxi in NoHo

I learned to overcome my shyness through taxi rides.

My mentor, Robin Uchida, taught me his nifty trick when I worked for him many moons ago and I owe him a lot. He’s someone I can randomly e-mail and receive insights within a 24-hour window, regardless of where I am / he is.

He told me he gave up his car after having children – he sold his Porsche and his wife’s car and replaced it with a 4-seater. His wife drove while he opted to take taxi’s to and from work everyday, a consistent 20-minute ride each way. During the ride, he’d try to strike up conversations with taxi drivers. Some taxi drivers were not interested, but some would end up having the most interesting dialogues – from culture to politics to where the taxi drivers originated from. In Toronto, many taxi drivers were immigrants and through these conversations, he was inspired and transformed.

I’ve adapted his techniques living in Hong Kong and that has taught me many things. As a borderline-expat with a upper-middle class upbringing, I listen to their stories and perspectives. While I can’t claim I understand them to any extent, it’s definitely opened up my views. One ride I took from my home to SoHo the taxi driver explained to me the historical significance of the streets in the area in relation to the Hong Kong colonial regime. Another ride from Central to Causeway Bay taught me the struggles of divorce with children. I appreciate each conversation and jot down the significant ones so I won’t forget.

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