I live in a suburb within a 45 minute commute from downtown Manhattan (New York). Tonight, around 5:00PM, I had to run a last minute errand to the local super market for a few odds & ends. Typically, this supermarket's parking lot is insanity...so I always park across the street...as I did this evening. Ran in and got what I needed and ran out! As I exited the supermarket's parking lot and was about to cross the street to retrieve my car, traffic prevented me from doing so. While waiting for an opening in the traffic...a middle aged gentleman...standing at the curb ask me (with a foreign accent) if I knew where to catch a cab. He was accompanied by a woman similar in age and a younger fellow (early to mid 20s?). I told him that he should go back into the super market and ask them to call a cab. He looked at me somewhat puzzled/confused. He held the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag in hand that appeared to contain a few items.
- Me: How long have you been waiting here?
- Him: About 15 to 20 minutes!
- Me: Where are you going?
- Him: We are trying to get to the train station to go to Manhattan.
- Me: Okay...I'm parked across the street. I'll take you to the train station (3 minutes away)
- Him: Really? How much?
- Me: Nothing!
We cross the street...and get to my car. The three attempt to get into the back seat of my 4 seater. I ask that someone get in the front with me (I think they still thought I must have been a "private" cabbie!) Twenty something-year-old jumps in the front passenger seat...and I pull off.
- 20 yr old: How much?
- Me: Nothing! (20 yr old looks at me in disbelief)
- Me: So where are you from?
- 20 yr old: Switzerland
- Me: Wow! What are you doing here?
- 20 yr old: We are visiting my parent's friend.
- Me: How long have you been here (in my suburb)?
- 20 yr old: Just today. My parent's friend is sick and they wanted to visit her.
- Me: So how did you get from the train station to your parent's friend?
- 20 year old: We took a taxi from the train station.
- Me: Ah. Yes, there are taxis at the train station...but otherwise you have to call one to come and pick you up to get back to the station (or anywhere else in this great suburb of mine)!
- Dad: (in the back seat) Yes...my son told me that but we didn't believe him!
- Me: Well in Manhattan...you can stand on any corner and "hail" a taxi...but not here.
- Me: So do you speak German? (I then go into the whole spiel about my daughter and German son-in-law currently living in Munich)
- 20 yr old: No...I speak French....I'm learning German. My parents speak French and German (and obviously decent English!)
- Me: When you get to Manhattan...be careful. Do you need a taxi when you get back to Manhattan?
- 20yr old: No. We are staying with friends and we have "subway passes".
- Me: Good!
We arrive at my suburban "commuter station". Dad leans over from the back seat and insists that I accept $5 to pay for the "oil"! I insist that I won't take it! 20 year old insists that I do! I insist that I won't! I ask that they give me a free ride when I get to Geneva! We all smile. They thank me profusely and exit the car. As I drive off...I look back and they are waving. My new BFFs from Geneva! No names! No numbers. No e-mail addresses. Life is good!