A few nights ago, flu-ish, on my way home, I booked a GrabCar, and in a few minutes saw it approaching. Hesitated to put my hand out in the manner of hailing a cab, so I waved instead, like waving hello, because I never know if some drivers feel that the hailing gesture is a little commanding, perhaps even demanding. Wondered if this was some kind of over-consideration of others, whether these are the things, in increments, which made my life less free.
Got into the car, closed the door, rested against the seat, enveloped by the sealed-in smell of the upholstery and the music, somehow turned down to an exact volume that seemed to fill the silence of the car without also rudely filling in the silence of my thoughts. Appreciated this thoughtfulness, or even if done thoughtlessly by the driver, then the thoughtfulness of some higher power who gave me flu with one hand and soothing music with the other. Looked at my phone, felt a little peckish, wondered how many drivers, glancing at their passengers in their back seats, saw faces lit up by phone screens, and whether they thought the image unnervingly ghastly or unnervingly…lonely.
And then the driver spoke, ‘it’s late now, have you had dinner?’ And I said, ‘Just a little meal’. And he said, ‘Do you want to get some food before you get home?’ and I said, ‘You either read my mind or you heard my stomach growling.’ He chuckled and said, ‘Any place where you can go for food before you get home?’ I said, ‘There’s a McDonald’s near my house, you can just drop me there.’ He said, ‘Are you sure? I can wait for you if you’d like.’ And I said, ‘No, I can walk, it’s very near, thank you’.
The fare was already fixed by the app, there was nothing to be gained by this extra errand he was prepared to run for me, with me. And yet. I carried this yet in me when I left the car. Not yet to feel weary of this hard city. Not yet to feel defeated by the faces in a crowd that form a continuous epidermis of indifference. Not yet to lose belief in angelic encounters. What did I think earlier that night, about how always considering the other made one less free? And yet. Only by keeping the other in mind can I free myself from the prison of my own selfish thoughts.