I’ve written about talking with Santiago cabbies in the past**, and even though I haven’t written much of anything lately, I continue to gather material nearly every time I hop into a cab. In fact, I could probably do an entire blog on taxi tales!
There are certain recurring themes for the gringa getting into a Chilean taxi scenario. “Where you from?” “How long have you been here?” “Are you married to a Chilean?” “Do you have kids?” and so it goes with any number of variations…
And so it went the other day… with a twist. When we got to the part about kids and I explained that we both had kids from our respective previous marriages but none together, his head whipped around to look me in the eye. Insert the word quizzical somewhere in that sentence… give it about 2 seconds, and then change it to judgmental.
“That’s selfish,” he pronounced. My eyes snapped to his, but I didn’t respond. I’d heard it before.
“When you get married you’re supposed to have kids.” He’s right. In Chile, it’s the law—it’s written in the Libreta de Familia—the legal document that is proof of marriage and requires couples, among other things, to procreate.
He cleared his throat and checked for oncoming traffic before making a turn. “There’s nothing better than a house full of kids—todos que Dios manda—all that God gives you.” It’s a frequently repeated mantra here, especially among the church-going over-40 crowd.
I held my tongue. Even though part of me was doing a double-taking what-the-hell kind of seethe at being judged on such a personal matter by a total stranger, another part decided it was just way too early in the morning to get into it with him, and yet another resolved that there was no reason I needed to justify my life to a total stranger.
“Sometimes life just works out that way,” I finally say. He read between the lines and understood that “this topic is closed.”
We crossed the bridge.
“So,” he says… “Is it true that North Americans are colder and less loving than Chileans?”