After attending a luncheon fundraiser for Room to Read that featured journalists Cokie and Steve Roberts, I hailed a cab and headed over to my office at 24th and M Streets. I asked the cab driver how his day was and he responded, “Wonderful. Every day is beautiful!” I peered up at the name listed on the taxi permit fastened to the underside of the sun visor and saw that his name was Pierre.
I leaned over, grabbed my book bag and pulled my small notebook out to take some notes about this jovial character as we traveled the 30 blocks across town.
Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Pierre moved here in 1972. “I remember it well, it was the year that Mr. Nixon had some trouble,” the 66-year-old said still smiling broadly. “And the Dolphins won the Superbowl!” He would know that too because he moved to Miami before moving to DC later in 1975. He hasn’t been back to Haiti in a while though. In fact, he isn’t aware of any family still living there. “If I have some, I don’t know them.”
“I’ve been driving a cab since 1984 or 85.” He’s been lucky, he said, that he has never experienced any dangerous situations while driving his cab like Freddy, the recipient from Day 331 who was shot while driving his taxi back in the late eighties.
I shared with Pierre that part of my motivation for this project was my mother, who passed away four years ago this month. He told me that he lost his wife two years and eight months ago. “We had ten children and 20 grandkids. The oldest is now 46; I had her my last year of high school,” he said turning onto M Street. “All but one of them are here in DC. And the 20th grandchild was just born the day before. “I was coming from the hospital when I picked you up,” Pierre said.
I love this guy. He had such an energy and esprit de vivre! His ten dollars went to buying his lunch for the day.
“I really like what you are doing,” he said as I got out of his cab. “Probably many people have thought something similar, but the difference is that you took the initiative and did it!” he said with his intoxicating voice.
I hopped out and snapped this photo of him as he pulled away.