A cabbie in Monte Carlo

It’s 7:15am and I’m in the back of a Mercedes in Monte Carlo. I’ve been on no sleep for as long as I can rightly remember. My bags are in the trunk, my seatbelt is on, and my sunglasses are deflecting the first real sun I’ve seen in days. I’m not one to start conversations with taxi drivers unless I’ve had a few drinks. This time, for reasons I don’t even fully understand, I decide to.

“When’s the Grand Prix?” I said. The cab driver tells me, takes a hairpin turn, and starts heading for the highway to Nice.

“Hard to drive here then?” I ask.

“Not bad at night,” the cab driver says in a French-accented English. “During the day, impossible.”

It seems like we’re going too many kilometers per hour, but I don’t mind. Make like the Grand Prix and get me out as fast as you can, man.

The conversation winds like the road, from fuel prices, to poker, to how much money a person has to have before Monte Carlo will grant citizenship (note: I’m not going to make the cut).

I’ve found in my travels that folks from other countries are as interested in the upcoming election as we are. In fact, a great many of them–this cabbie included–are more knowledgable about the candidates than many American voters. The driver asks me who I like. Noting that we only have fifteen minutes left in the ride, I am hesitant to get in a debate.

“You tell me who you like first,” I say.

“I think,” he says, obviously measuring his words, “we need to take a chance on Obama.”

There begins one of the most thoughtful and informed bits of reasoning on American politics you will hear outside of the Beltway. The driver’s actual argument is one you’ve heard before and doesn’t need repeating. What’s remarkable is the man’s grasp on the realities of American politics and their effect on the world at large.

In the American bubble, it’s pretty easy for all of us to think this election is all about us, about how we fight, how we defend, and how we live our lives. It’s also pretty easy for us to forget that our votes are the butterly wing-flaps that can change the lives of people like my Monte Carlo cabbie.

He cares, and probably more than a lot of people I know. That’s as hard to wrap my head around now than it was when I was sleepless half a world away.

Update–My buddy G-Rob just sent me this shocker.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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4 Responses

  1. Chilly says:

    When I was in Europe in January I found that the average person I encountered was much more informed and opinionated about our election that the average person here.

    I was shocked about the amount of coverage the elections and debates were getting over there. I think the reasons are not limited to the fact that our actions over the last seven years, fiscally and diplomatic, have had almost as big an impact on Europe as they have had here.

  2. Mean Gene says:

    Same thing happened in Vietnam. Lots of people asked who we were gonna elect, and everyone there hopes it’s Obama. Understandably, the people there are afraid of the US invading countries and dropping bombs without damn good reason.

    Didn’t hear anyone talk about McCain, which is either odd or wholly understandable considering the course of his life.

    Now I gotta go to the polls to vote for Obama.

  3. StB says:

    The cabbie also won’t be affected by higher tax rates by electing Obama. Europe sees the opportunity to gain ground against the US in terms of trade and influence around the world. Electing a Dem helps them tremendously. Thinking the cabbie has no interest in the big benefit to that continent is leaving out a piece of the puzzle. That is not a chance I would like to take.

  4. StB says:

    You could have stumped for Chicken Wing!