Friday, October 14, 2005

The Taxi Driver

On the way to the airport in Ottawa, I said to the taxi driver, “Is that the canal they skate on in the winter?”
I already knew that it was, but I felt like a conversation.
The driver seemed surprised. “Yes!” he said. “Yes, have you never been to Ottawa before?”
“Not in the winter”, I said, calmly, but that wasn’t true either. I was in Ottawa during the ice storm back when branches crashed through the night like the recycling collection.
However, during that storm there was no skating on the canal.
The driver told me it was beautiful, the frozen canal. He doesn’t skate himself, he said, because he is afraid. He is afraid of breaking himself. Once, there was an old woman in his cab with a bandaged wrist, and she said she fell while skating. She must have been 85 years old! Skating on the canal! He asked her why she did such a thing, and she replied that she enjoyed it.
The driver wanted to know what I did for a living, and then he was excited, and wanted the titles of my books. He was quiet, sad and reflective, when I told him the titles. He didn’t recognise them. But then he asked what my husband did, and wanted to know what my husband’s books were about. “Well,” I said, “he wrote a novel about Ottawa in the 70s.” This is not a fair description of Colin’s book. But the driver was happy and excited again. “I’ve seen that book!” he exclaimed. “I saw it in the library! Ottawa in the 70s? I’ve seen that book in the library!”
He was so glad, and when we reached the airport he said, “Very nice talking to you,” in a warm and kindly voice.


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