Speaking of driving, today I had a fascinating conversation with a friendly taxi cab driver.
I was on my way to a presentation for work and, as yesterday's post made abundantly clear, I am not yet able to drive myself there (and I freely admit this is a good thing, too!). I was laden with expensive video equipment, so I enjoyed the luxury of a cab ride instead of a string of buses or my bicycle. En route to my destination, the chatty cab driver asked what part of America I was from. When I told him I'd lived most recently in Chicago, we got into the usual conversation about the weather.
"You get lots of snow there from the lake effect, don't you?" he said knowledgeably.
I was amazed.
"How did you know about lake effect?" I asked. The usual reaction to Chicago is generally along the lines of, "Isn't that somewhere in the middle?" or "Yes, I've seen it on ER."
"I actually spent six months in America a few years back," said the driver.
"Really?" I asked. "Where did you go?"
"Everywhere," he said modestly. "I drove to each state."
"That's really cool," I said. "No wonder you took six months."
"I also drove to each state in alphabetical order, even Alaska. I had to do some flying for Hawaii, though. " he continued. I think at this point my jaw literally dropped.
"Alphabetically?" I asked. "That's absolutely incredible. Are you serious?"
The driver, whose name, by the way, is Harry Keeling, was serious. The year he turned 55 he decided to make his year, doing exactly what he wanted, and the goal he set for himself was driving to the state capital of all 50 states--in alphabetical order, of course. That meant going from Alabama to Alaska, from Nevada to New Hampshire.
"You're like Stephen Fry, only without the London cab and the production crew," I said.
"And the money," he added.
Soon we arrived at my destination, but not before Harry had given me a leaflet advertising an upcoming production of "The Graduate" at the Nottingham Arts Theatre.
"I always like talking to Americans," he said. "It helps me work on my accent for the part. I play Mr. Robinson."
Harry describes himself as a jack of all trades, master of none, but it seems clear to me he's more along the lines of a Renaissance Man.
"I still can't imagine visiting all of the states in alphabetical order," I said, climbing out of the cab. "That's a lot of driving."
"Ah, but I like driving," Harry said with a smile. I shut the door and he pulled away.