This morning I took my car to get a door that won’t open repaired. The mechanic asked me to leave the car with him and he would call me when it is ready.
There isn’t good transport in that part of town and I was going to have to walk a distance in the cold to get to the tram stop, so I prayed for the Lord to provide a taxi. As I walked to the main street, I looked up and there was a taxi. As I walked over to the car, I prayed for an opportunity to talk to him.
One of my goals this year is to get out at least once a week and encounter people where they work, live and play. This will help me understand the people and the culture.
As is usual, I asked the driver how much it would cost to take me home and we agreed on a price. If it seems reasonable to me, I usually don’t haggle. If it is way too much, I won’t even discuss with them.
I had a situation like that in Kiev earlier this much where the driver wanted 5 times more than the usual price, then he got embarrassed as I called him on it. He pleaded with me and told me I misunderstood him. I told him I wouldn’t ride with him if he gave me a free ride! Moments later the airport bus showed up and I got to go for the regular price.
This driver gave me a fair price and I sat down. I began by asking if he was a life long resident of Donetsk. These types of questions always put people at ease as we always seems to enjoy talking about ourselves and our family. Vladimir was a really nice guy. He was 60 years old and retired as a coal miner.
He shared about his pension and how it wasn’t enough and therefore he had to work as a taxi driver to have enough money. He shared that his son is a police officer in Donetsk and that he even had to help him and his family.
As we continued on the journey through town, he shared with me how he longed for the old days of the former Soviet Union. He described to me that under Communism, he had opportunities to take vacations to Moldova, Russia and the sea. Now, no such opportunities exist. He asked me what democracy had brought to Ukraine.
It was difficult to answer him. I shared a little about my life, growing up in America under democracy and what I had been able to do because of freedom.
What shocked me the most is that I haven’t really heard much talk like this in a long time. I remember living in Lugansk from 1994-96 and hearing the grandmothers in my building long for the old Soviet days, for many of the same reasons. He has got to be the youngest person I have ever heard make this statement. It really opened my eyes!
As we said our goodbyes, I thanked him for the ride and for the conversation. As he drove away, I thanked the Lord for answering my prayer and I said a prayer for Vladimir and his family.