Over the 10 odd years of living in Toronto, I have taken Taxis all over the city. It is an engaging experience. Many of the drivers are friendly and open to conversations, many like to give young women advice (as per my experience) and as of late when travelling with a child, many like to have conversations in relation to their children.
I am aware of the power relationship that is taking place. Myself, as the young white woman paying customer and they mostly, immigrant people of color as the drivers. I catch myself, in how the habits of my privilege plays out, that even my engagement in beginning a conversation is soaked in being seated in the back and paying for a service. I am customer and they the driver. This is a the neoliberal relationship. I acknowledge that the moments of stories, laughter and jokes are to me, genuine experiences, and still we are in a Taxi.
There is social etiquette that drivers and passengers are required to uphold. The passenger is informed of their rights as a customer with a laminated piece of paper flapping over the back of the front passenger seat, which has a photo (at least in past) and details for you about your diver. A false sense of security, just in case. Knowledge is power, right?
I don’t know how the driver/s reflect on this, and what they think of the experiences throughout their day. When and if I ask those questions commonly used in interactions with immigrants – how long have you been in Canada?, a whole set of stories emerge. The magnitude of the way neoliberalism further complicates an already messy post-colonial relationship bursts at the seams and begs for something else. The truthfulness of that moment of interaction, is the most real space of possibility for change, to disrupt maybe for a moment of laughter the patterning of relating.