Working in the advertising industry means that sometimes you have to be a mover-and-a-shaker. Rub elbows. Drop names. Schmooze, if you will, with well-dressed, slick and fancy industry peeps.
That's what I did last night. (Except that, I mostly stuck to my own group of coworkers, while eyeing the food and helping myself to free beer all night long.)
Afterwards, I took a cab home. And, whenever I take that long cab ride home from downtown to my house in the burbs, I like to chat with the cab driver. They're generally very friendly people who like to talk about themselves. I find their stories very interesting. And I like learning about different cultures, religions and ways of life from passionate people.
So, last night I initiated the conversation by mentioning to my cabbie that it was too bad he would have a long ride back with no fare. He told me he'd be stopping at a nearby mosque to pray, so it wasn't all bad.
"Pray? Now??" I said. (It was 10:30 at night).
"Oh yes. Muslims pray 5 times a day."
I told him I thought that seemed like a lot. He just chuckled and said that the required number of praying times per day used to be much higher for Muslims. And Muslims like praying, anyway.
He also told me that if he couldn't find a mosque, he had a rug in the trunk of his cab, and would pull over to pray. I admired his dedication.
He carried on with more and more details of the Muslim faith until we neared my house. It was only at that point that we spoke of something other than Muslims (and I think he was just trying to be polite). He said that the street I lived on was lovely, and his wife would love a bungalow. I said thank you, I was very happy with our street, but my goodness would the construction ever end??
We laughed a little.
And then he gave me his business card and asked me to please call him if I needed a ride home anytime I'm in the Bloor/Yonge area.
"My name is Mohammed," he said.
I put my hand out for him to take. "Nice to meet you, I'm Heather."
His face shone with excitement. "That Muslim name!" he exclaimed in his strong accent.
"Um... I'm pretty sure it's Scottish" I smiled.
He started at me blankly for a moment. "Heda?"
"Heather," I repeated. "H-e-a-t-h-e-r."
His face crinkled up into a smile. "Scottish" he repeated. "Did you know he won the World Cup? Scottish. He won!"
"Soccer?" I asked.
"No, no... cricket. Scottish - he won!" he said excitedly.
I smiled broadly. "Very cool."
Just like my cab ride home.