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Count Our Blessings

November 20th, 2018

We can pick up life lessons from anyone and from any part of the world. This is a beautiful reflection from a taxi driver in San Francisco (SF), United States.

In a day in SF, a rare taxi trip took an interesting turn. The cab driver was a Russian man, who if I did not speak to on the way from the airport to the hotel, I would have not known about his captivating story.

He was one of many who were attracted to the idea of moving to America, where it is known as the land of opportunity. In the year 2000, he was so convinced that Russia was hopeless, and so he left his prestigious job as a pilot and took his wife and his 14 year old son to the USA to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a computer programmer.

The second he step foot on ‘the land of the free’, he took a coding class at a local college. Because of his limited ability to speak English, he became a taxi driver to earn some money in the meantime.

Unfortunately for him, by the time he graduated college, dot com bubble, which was what he studied, had ended in 2001. Even if he had other skills, the prospect of 40 years old newly out of college programmer looked unattractive when the choices are abundant.

As the sole breadwinner, he has no choice but to continue driving taxis. Until this day.

This man has every reason to feel as if the world is unfairly against him.

Firstly, because now, after experiencing first hand dot com bubble bursting, the taxi industry is being challenged by services such as Uber and Lyft. He estimated 40K Uber and Lyft cars compared to 2K taxis available in SF.

Secondly, his occupation can be seen as a downgrade; from flying a plane to driving a cab.

Thirdly, many of his friends who remained in Russia have been doing very well. He would have felt guilt and regret leaving Russia just to face two major changes in the industries that he works in.

But this man is a happy chatty one. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, he focuses on what went right in his life.

Apparently, his son follows his interest in coding. His son graduated from coding school and works in a tech company in Palo Alto, as an engineer.

There is no trace of bitterness from this man, even when telling me about his successful friends in Russia. Rather he is grateful for the opportunities of his son.

We can choose to be happy or not by focusing on counting our blessings instead of focusing on the ‘mistakes we made in life’.

The choice is ours and I want to start counting my blessings again.

Wuddy Warsono
Member of the Board of Patrons and Treasurer