As noted in a previous post, I enjoy chatting with cab drivers, on the rare occasion that I do take a cab. Sometimes I want a quiet ride, and sometimes they want a quiet ride, but it’s nice to at least test the waters with small talk and see where it will go. People are interesting and you may learn something, hear a great story, get some (unsolicited) advice, or a tip about the city. Plus it’s just friendly to talk to someone you’re sitting in a car with.
So, it’s fair to say I really like this project I recently stumbled upon, Just Here’s Fine: a look at the lives of London’s cab drivers. The artist, Victoria Hannan, shares a photo and brief bio of cab drivers from around London. Each driver is completely different, has a different reason for choosing this job, has their own routine and habits, has their own crazy stories.. things you would never know by looking at all drivers as the same person. Victoria breaks each interviewee down into their own person.
Everyone has a story and a life you don’t see, especially if they are in a profession where only formalities are exchanged: “I’m going to Penn Station, thanks”, “Can I please have a medium iced coffee with skim milk?”, “Do you take credit?”, “No, there will be nothing else, thanks for your help.”, “We’ll take the check.” Most of these interactions are strictly business with no room for anything else, which is fine, but it’s nice now and then to get to know people as, and make them feel like, more than just the person who hands you your morning bagel or drives you from point A to point B. You never know what you will get out of it, even a “hello, how are you, beautiful day” and a simple “thank you” will probably brighten their day as well as yours, and maybe it will be passed on to the next person. Cab rides seem to provide opportunities for a more extensive conversation, which is maybe why the artist chose cab drivers as her subject for this project.
If you’ve ever visited a Trader Joe’s (if you haven’t you’re really missing out) you know well how the interactions at the checkout lines go. The cashiers are all so freakin friendly and chatty. It’s obviously a prerequisite to be able to start a conversation with a stranger. They offer more than just a “Hi.” I’ve been asked how my day is going, what I have planned, and have found myself joking around with the cashier. It makes some people uncomfortable, admittedly including myself at times, because we unfortunately live in a society where not talking to people we don’t know, even if they are helping us or sharing an experience with us, is normal, but I love that Trader Joe’s does this. I feel like they’re breaking people’s guards down one perfectly packed recyclable bag at a time. One time the cashier saw I had the makings for “guaco”, ie guacamole, in my basket but was missing cilantro, and offered to go get it for me because he knew exactly where it was and “you can’t have guacamole without cilantro!” He left me at the register with a line forming and went all the way to the other side of the store to get it so that my guacamole wasn’t missing cilantro. He wasn’t even going to get to eat the guacamole! It’s these little gestures and interactions that restore faith in humanity and makes us feel connected, which is why I’m really enjoying Just Here’s Fine.