Getting into a cab can sometimes feel like stepping into your doctor’s office. You know you may be faced with an embarrassing question that you’re not quite sure how to answer. I’ve been living in New York for nine years and the Cabbie Q & A, as I affectionately call it, kicks off with the same question every time…
Where is your husband?
Pretty painless. I know the answer to this one. I got this. “My husband? I don’t have one,” I say to the eyes floating in the rear-view mirror. A blink and a nod is returned to my response while a breath is drawn in. “Oh, well I am sure you have a boyfriend,” ninety-nine percent of the time comes next, which used to garner a, “Yes, I do,” out of me. Used to. The first time I quipped back, “Well, no. No I don’t,” I sat back, looked out the window and thought the interview was over. I was wrong.
Wow, I am really surprised a girl like you doesn’t have a husband or a boyfriend. You should be married. I am not married too. Would you like to marry me?
A cabbie proposal! I finally felt like a real New Yorker despite being born and semi-raised here. “You’re funny,” I say after a hearty laugh, only to realize there were no longer eyes in the rear-view. We were stopped at a light and he had turned around to look at me. Looking at me, waiting for my answer. My laugh melted like Frosty in Florida. A disappointed look was smeared all over his face as he explained to me that he was not kidding.
He was a forty-two year old man from Pakistan who had never been married. He said his parents had been putting pressure on him to marry a nice girl because, as he put it, time was running out. So he figured since I was unmarried and he was unmarried, we should marry. Creepiness aside, the whole thing sounded so apocalyptic. I got a mental image of us standing in the middle of Times Square after the world had ended. Light bulbs are flickering and shredded paper wafted in the air like Armageddon’s confetti. He is alone and I am too. Mankind depends on us to save the human race…
Pulling up to my house brings me back to reality. It is not the end of the world. He is not the last man on Earth and I am not the last woman, so I decline his offer. He pleads with me to think about it, cajoling me with free cab rides to and from work. These rides would provide us time to get to know each other. A riding engagement. Then we would marry and he would take me to Pakistan to meet his family, who would love a big-eyed girl like me. He would be all the husband I would ever want and I would be his queen. I again decline and he asks for my phone number so he can show me he is serious.
Now, I know you are thinking, “Just get out of the cab!”, but this man now knows where I live and it’s dark outside. And besides, the doors are locked. So, I give him my number… my Google Voice number, which he decides to test while I am in the cab. To his surprise, the number is not a fake and he unlocks the doors. “I hope I can get you to change your mind,” he says as I collect my things from the backseat. “And I hope you find the woman you’re meant to marry,” I call out as I close the door.
Thank God for Google Voice!