Just Follow the Rules
By Ron Page
Travel has always been important to me. As a youngster, our annual automobile trips took us to all 48 contiguous states, most of the provinces of Canada, and most national parks; and my love of travel has never slowed. “Seeing the sights” would seem to be the primary purpose of visiting other places, but I think you will agree travel is equally an opportunity to leave life’s chores and pressures behind, and, with a clear mind, absorb not just “the sights”, but the total experience – the sounds, the scents, the flavors, and the people.
I recently read the advice of a financial advisor who was reflecting back on his own life as well as the advice he had given his clients. In retrospect, he would have encouraged people to save maybe a little bit less and to spend a little bit more on travel. The pleasure of owning a new car lasts only until its first scratch, he says, but the pleasure of travel lasts a lifetime.
We return home with lives enriched by all we have observed. Often, we bring with us the memory of some small detail, which if encountered back home might have gone not only unappreciated but totally unnoticed. For me, a conversation with an Uber driver on a recent trip was one such experience. Maybe if the conversation had taken place here in Oklahoma City, with my mind clouded with my daily to-do list, it would not have made a lasting impression, or maybe I wouldn’t have felt compelled to converse with my Uber driver at all.
Alyce and I were on the quite lengthy Uber ride from the San Diego airport to Coronado Island. Those who know me well can guess that this time would involve conversation with our driver, a most friendly fellow whose ineptness with the English language was more than offset by the passion and dynamics of his delivery. There was little doubt as to the meaning of his message. Of course, I asked this man questions about his ethnicity and other topics considered taboo by many. Almost never in my life have such questions been received in any way other than conversation of the friendliest sort. It seems I am quickly and correctly perceived as harmless and unintimidating.
Our Uber driver was eager to tell me of his home country of Iraq, his Christian faith, his grandfather’s dream of coming to America, and his father’s regret at not being able to come. But the dream was realized for our driver, his wife, and his two children. All have jobs and his children hope to attend college. And this is where his story turns into an impassioned message about America.
“America”, he says, “is the most wonderful place and people just don’t appreciate it enough. If they lived in other parts of the world, they would understand how lucky they are. Here you have rules and all you have to do is follow the rules and you have nothing to worry about. You can achieve anything you want. In other countries, it doesn’t work that way. America is the most wonderful country in the world. Just follow the rules. That is all.”
That is all.