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From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

By Nur Ali as told to Barbara Smythe

I eagerly positioned my cab at the end of the taxi lineup outside the fancy marina resort hotel. It was a good location, and I was sure to get a passenger who would tip well. While I was waiting my turn to be first in line, I wondered if the other drivers in this lineup were as thankful as I was to be in this land of freedom and opportunity. I doubted that any of them had planned to be taxi drivers. I certainly had not.

My thoughts wandered over the long journey I had made to be here. I had grown up in Somalia, in eastern Africa, and dreamed of becoming a businessman. After graduating from the university, I had started an import/export business where my ability to speak Italian, Arabic and some English was useful. Soon my business was flourishing. Unfortunately, Somalia erupted in a civil revolution, and I found myself in danger. To stay in Somalia would have meant certain death. There was no choice but to abandon my business and flee with my young family to America, seeking political asylum. We arrived with very little means. I quickly took a job driving a taxi, something I could do immediately, in spite of my limited English. We were doing all right now, with the second job I got at AT&T, and finally I was able to tell my wife to relax and stay home with our three children. I was filled with a sense of well-being.

"Taxi! Taxi!" The voice of the hotel doorman jarred me out of my reverie. I put my cab in gear and pulled up. The doorman opened the back door of my cab and held it as a fair-haired, young businessman got in.

"Good day, sir." I smiled as the man settled himself in the back seat. "Where would you like to go?"

The man looked up and stared at me. "Where are you from?" he bluntly asked.



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