I’ve always loved the front seat in the car. At home, my twin and I would always fight for who would get to sit in that front seat when our father would take us for a ride, be it being dropped off to school. Many times, I would give in and let my twin have it, because we both knew I’ve had many more rides in the front seat with him (which was also always her lame argument anyways) :).
But sitting in the front seat here carries a different meaning. Before leaving home, my dad lectured me to always sit in the back seat as it is customary and also appropriate. While I obey that when in a taxi with a stranger, I must say I love sitting in the front seat with all the drivers from my workplace. Although getting my own Queen-seat in the front is an incentive enough, the reason I like sitting in the front is more so because I get to carry conversations with the driver and learn about them, from them hearing about their day to day stories, their worries, giving me a glimpse into their lives. One of the drivers, of Ethiopian-Christian descent, tells me some verses of the Quran because he grew up right next to a mosque. He tells me, smiling and reminiscing, how much he misses Ethiopia and what his life was like there which although was still humble, but surrounded by a loving family. He tells me, unintentionally, about times where people have disrespected him and felt that they can, unfortunately because they feel they have the authority to do so. All while he takes me driving through town, to and from work, he always asks if the AC is enough, shades the upper window flap when the sun glares in front of me. He knows what radio stations to put on and turns off his own. But sometimes, it makes you think, why are his wishes, his self-respect secondary? I get so entertained listening to his Ethiopian stories and yes, his music selection.
Another driver of Pakistani-descent, from my Mother’s home-town, is a sweet old grandpa type of a man. When I first met him, he came up to me and introduced himself saying how he found out I was Pakistani as well :) When he drives, his hands remind me of my father and his Urdu of someone like family.
Our lives are very different, the expenses and complexity of our lives, but we are two people seating equally in the front seats of the SUV-- Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful feeling.