Colby and me sit at a tram stop. We have just gone and seen another shit apartment that we may or may not want to rent in a snobbish neighborhood of East Melbourne. We thought we liked the place when we saw it in photographs on some real estate web site but when we arrive and see it in person, we realize that we have been had by trick photography or our own wishful thinking or our own foolish and rather desperate desire to find a residence we can call home in our new adopted city.
The trams do not seem to be coming along and the time of our next appointment draws closer. I check my watch. I look up the road. I check my watch again.
The traffic is heavy. A taxi sits at rest beside us as we wait for the never arriving tram. I make an uncharacteristic split decision to jump in the taxi.
I rush to the door as the traffic light turns green and the cars ahead start to lurch forward. I ask the driver if he is available to give us a lift to our destination. He doesn't really answer and we both just sort of force our way into the cab and he shrugs and follows the cars in front of him.
The meter is off and he explains that he has been driving for the last 20 hours. He cannot turn on the meter according to local laws regarding time spent on the road without sleep or rest.
We agree that a flat rate will be paid at the end of our short journey.
Colby, as always strikes up a mannered conversation with him. In less than one minute, we find out that he is a recent immigrant from the war torn nation of Afghanistan.
We are both taken aback by his honesty and candor and faith in human kindness.
He tells us that his entire family have been killed by coalition bombs and bullets. A coalition bomber strafed his village on the border with Pakistan and 2000 people were killed in less than a minute. His mother, father, sisters and other extended family members were all victims of this horrific war crime. His pride, sadness and strength leave us both in tears. He is in tears. In retrospect, it was a very powerful moment in my life and I shall never forget that man's face and voice. He could see that we were hurting from his story and he moved to calm us, saying that it was not the Australian or Canadian or Americans' fault but rather it was the policy of these counties' that caused this war.
I felt so ashamed. I felt such reprehensible guilt and anger and embarrassment that I have not felt since March 2003 when the bombs began to fall on Baghdad.
We reached our destination and our emotional ride was over. I don't know if the ride affected him as it did us but maybe we were supposed to feel that pain from him. First world westerners are not often faced with the fallout that their governments make on their behalf and maybe if we did more often, we would be more vocal and stand up for the rights of those who stand in the way of the bombs dropped in our our name.