It was about 5pm one of the first sunny Saturdays of spring. I stood outside Brooklyn Bridge Park waiting for an Uber over to a party in Williamsburg after a long, mimosa-filled picnic brunch.
“Miss Sara! Hello! How are you? It’s such a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Shamraiz, my driver, exclaimed as I slid into the back seat. “Days like this, everyone’s mood changes, everyone walks with their heads held high!”
In just a few minutes I learned Shamraiz has five kids, one named Sara like me but she spells it with an “h”. He loves his wife more than anything – she’s the reason he left Pakistan for America. I learned he’d driven a yellow cab for 14 years and switched over to Uber last year. He likes the newfound flexibility.
“If you work hard, and stay positive, good things will come to you,” Shamraiz said as we snaked our way through Brooklyn. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
“Absolutely,” I agreed. “You should really write a book with all these sayings.”
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing,” he promptly spouted, proud of himself for recalling such a relevant quote. “That one’s Benjamin Franklin.”
I laughed. I realized in New York, I don’t blink an eye at extreme negativity. But extreme positivity is intriguing, makes me question whether the person has a motive or simply looks at the world in a different way. With Shamraiz, it was clearly the latter. But why in New York is positivity suspicious, while negativity’s the norm?
“Well, here you are,” Shamraiz said when we reached my destination. I thanked him and got out, but moments later he rolled down the window.
“Learn from the past, live for today, dream for tomorrow!” he shouted over the bar music, before speeding away.