“Ladies,” he said in a kind voice as we climbed into the back seat and settled ourselves, “Can I ask you to please fasten your seatbelts?” Both of us were already searching for the straps and buckles but didn’t say so. His tone was full of caring, as if our safety was his top priority at that moment.
“Of course, thank you,” I replied.
“How was your dinner?” he continued.
“So delicious,” I answered at the same time as Frances said “Great!”
“Wonderful. Have you been to Washington before?”
“Yes, actually I grew up here.”
“A true Washingtonian,” he remarked. His voice sounded almost wistful.
“Yes,” I laughed. “Where are you from?”
“El Salvador originally. But I have been here for over 50 years. Raised a family. I fell in love with the people here. True Washingtonians. They are so genuine and kind. I have always been welcomed and treated well by true Washingtonians. I can already tell you are one.”
All sorts of thoughts ran through my head as the car sped through the city, past the Washington Post building and other familiar landmarks. Part of me wanted to apologize for the climate in this city now, for the New Yorkers who’ve invaded and for everything that feels unfamiliar at best, but more like completely unacceptable. part of me wondered why he didn’t feel like a true Washingtonian. After all, he’d been her over fifty years, as long as I’ve been alive. And I’ve now spent more of my life living places other than where I was born.
Our Uber driver made one last turn and pulled the car over to the curb. He’d already gotten a notification for his next ride. There wasn’t time for me to say more. So instead I said, “Thank you the ride. It was really nice to meet you. I’m so glad you’ve stayed.”