Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rome Journal: A Taxi Ride

Mussolini and Hitler in Berlin (photo: Ladislav Luppa)
An otherwise innocent taxi ride can turn into a hijacking. On a recent afternoon in Rome, a tourist decided to grab the first cab he saw because of a one day strike which had shut down the buses and subways. The driver wasn’t familiar with the address and there was some back and forth as he failed to get the name right and find it on his Google maps. Finally the driver found it and the tourist lay back feeling he had made the right decision in taking a cab rather than trying to walk to his destination in the light rain, which had begun to fall. He’d relax and watch the scenery which consisted of the Aracoeli Steps and the Colosseum. But just as he lay his head against the window, the driver started to talk. The tourist knew a few words of Italian, yet he strained to understand the argument which was that the Germans were responsible for the strike that was occurring. The price of gas had gone up for Italians and it was from what the tourist could make out the German's fault. As they rode along the Tiber, the driver then commented that “gli Ebrei,” were the ones to blame. It just so happened that at this very moment the cab was passing a synagogue and the driver pointed to it indignantly to underscore his point. The tourist being a Jew wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Italy had a history of fascism and there were still fascists in the country, the way France still had its apologists for Petain. “Where are you from?” the driver asked in English. “Sono Ebreo di Manhattan,” the passenger replied.  There was a pregnant pause. “Non sono razzista,” the driver said with a shrug. His passenger wasn’t sure what to say and not  being able to remember the Italian word “pace” simply said “peace.” The driver looked nonplussed. Fate L’amore non fate la Guerra. The 60’s expression came back as the cab reached its destination. The tourist paid his 10 Euro fare and slipped away into the night.

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