It’s about that time….you know what time I mean…election time. Well, Election Day is some nine months away but we get to hear about all the candidates, all the scandals, all the snide remarks….etc. And I will be the last one to give away my political views, but I do remember where I was this time four years ago. I was in Cordoba, Argentina…studying abroad and only hearing news from the U.S. every few weeks.
And where did I hear most of that news from? The taxi drivers. They knew more about the American political system and government than the average American (sad, but true). Almost every time I jumped in a taxi, the driver would begin a conversation…”¿De dónde vos?” And once he found out I was an American I was grilled on my political views and knowledge of the candidates.
I was very intrigued by some of the conversations I had in a taxi cab and probably one of the best wasn’t about politics at all but about the American people. Once while riding in a taxi, the driver asked me about where I was from in the U.S. and the states that I’d visited. When I replied that I had only really been up and down the East Coast he asked, “Why is it that Americans can send their children to other countries when they haven’t avidly traveled their own?” I have to admit I was struck dumb by his response.
At first I thought, well the U.S. is so big…and I only know a handful of people who have been to every state. But in reality, Argentina is almost as long as the U.S. is wide and practically everyone travels all over the country by bus. So, I guess the truth is (that most) American kids (and adults for that matter) do travel but we don’t have an extensive transport system…and only a vague concept of geography. You can disagree with me, but ask a high school graduate to name all the capitals of every state and where to locate them on a map…better yet try other countries…and then we’ll talk.
After all my musings, I realized that the driver had a truly valid point. So, as much as I wish I could be studying and romping around another country during this election period, I am thankful to be home and see it as an opportunity to learn more about the candidates, the economy, and government. Thank you Mr. Taxi Cab Driver!