Friday, July 17, 2015

Tribesmen in the O.C.

Tribesmen in the OC. That sounds a bit like a reality show title, doesn't it. This is reality all right, but this could not be scripted.

My son Eddie travels a lot for work. Just this week he has been to Ashland, Oregon, and back to Orange County, to  Copper Mountain Colorado and back to Orange County, to Morgan Hill Ca and here to our house (!) and today to Marin and then back to Orange County. This will continue through the summer at least with Germany, Vegas and other places on the map.

He called the other day to tell me of a great cab driver he had while en route home from the Orange County airport. He said the man was chatty, which Eddie loves. Most cab drivers have very interesting tales to share if they choose to do it. This man was Afghani and wanted to know all about Colorado, from whence Eddie had just returned. He is always interested in safe places to move his family. Eddie told he what he knew of Denver and Boulder, which admittedly wasn't a lot.

Then the man told him he couldn't really move because he has a disabled son who needs his doctors etc. Naturally Eddie asked about the nature of the child's disability and was taken aback when he described a child with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus who has a trach, and a feeding tube and uses a wheelchair. This describes many of Maggie's issues. The man was surprised when Eddie understood all these terms and asked him how he knew so much about it. Eddie told him he had a sister with the exact same issues, that she had passed away last year and that he missed her every day.

While he's not 100% certain, Eddie was pretty sure the cab driver started to cry. Eddie was also getting choked up, which he said made it difficult to sound normal as he's instructing the man to turn left at the light.  He said it was so weird because this man was a complete stranger and the two of them were so affected by the coincidence. The driver told Eddie his son didn't have a long life expectancy and Eddie told him, don't pay any attention to that. My sister was happy, had a great life and lived longer than anyone predicted and we expected her to live much longer than she did.

As they continued the ride, the driver revealed more and more facts about his son and his family. Even though I don't know him at all, I feel like revealing those here would be a breach of his confidence. Suffice it to say he clearly needed someone to talk to and Eddie was an understanding ear.

The ride from John Wayne airport in Orange County to Eddie's house is at most 15 minutes and that's only if you miss all the lights.  This is a heavy and very personal conversation to have in such a short amount of time.   They arrived at Eddie's house and the driver got out of the cab and shook Eddie's hand for a long time while looking straight at him. Eddie said it was strange to make such a connection with someone when he doesn't even know his name. As Eddie relayed this story to me, I first thought it upset him a bit, but he corrected that misconception. He said it was very odd, but really felt good.

I said it's like meeting a member of your tribe when you are far from home.  You don't have to know each other personally to know you are members of the same exclusive club and understand the life the other is leading.  This particular tribe is very very small, and meeting a fellow tribesman out in the world and actually making that connection is a wonderful gift.

Each of them left that brief exchange with a deep respect for the other, which is rare in any situation, but especially so when the connection is so unusual and profound.



  1. I don't know you but have followed your blog for some time via Elizabeth's blog. I am so sorry again for the passing of your beautiful, happy daughter Maggie. This post is amazing and I just wanted to thank you for sharing it. I wondered if they shared email addresses so they could continue the exchange.

  2. I hope Eddie believes in angels, I think he met one...

  3. Oh, my gosh, I love this post. I love when this happens, and you've described it so perfectly. I really like the use of the word "tribe," especially. Eddie, I'm sure, was an angel that day to the taxi driver, someone who he'll remember forever. I remember each member of my tribe that I've met over the years -- each meeting an indelible one.


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