by Chai Jing (柴静) on her Sina blog:
Chai Jing is a CCTV journalist and TV show host. She is the currently the host of CCTV program “face to face” and “24 hrs”.
As soon as I got into a taxi, the taxi driver looked at where I got in and started to chat with me, “going dancing?”
“No” I didn’t care to talk to him.
He was making conversations “You know the first disco club in Beijing was JJ, at that time I was dancing the Korean xx”
He used a very professional term, I did not understand and glanced at him – an over 30-year-old big fat man?
He understood my look, “When JJ was the hottest I was the most popular male dancer there.”
“What kind of dancing do you do?” I finally had the interest to ask questions.
I tilted my head and looked at him carefully, his stomach pushed against the stirring wheel.
“Really, I was the reddest (means the most popular). I tell you my name you can go ask around… my wife was a student at Beijing International Studies University at the time, sat in the front row and watched me dance, then bought me a coke…” He was immersed in the past memories.
“Then how do you become like this after?”
“My wife said,” he said seriously, “must not dance for other women.”
“Do you still dance now?” I looked at him, all two hundred pond of him.
“Now Aunt Song in my residential community formed a ballroom dance team, calls me every night, ‘Liu why aren’t you here yet? We cannot dance if you don’t come.’” He said satisfyingly.
This taxi driver’s qualities looked different than others, wearing a blue jacket, looked like a department leader.
The atmosphere was also different from other taxis, in front of his seat, there were two portrait photos of two little girls, one younger and the other older.
“My daughters” he said.
“How can you have two kids?”
“I was the section chief of the Power Department ten years ago” he even carried his identification “my salary was over three thousand so…”
He was immersed in the past memories.
“You still didn’t tell me how you could have two kids?”
“I loved life at the time, went out drinking every night for ‘social obligations’, and went home at two three in the morning…”
He stopped and did not continue, looked like more than just drinking – also other things.
“Your wife didn’t care?”
“She was a lawyer, didn’t cry or make trouble. But one day, I drank till past 2 am and went home, she sat on the edge of the bed and said to me, ‘I am pregnant, four month, today I already found the Party Secretary at your work and told him that we have decided to have a 2nd child, your work is going to fire you tomorrow. I bought a car for you; you can leave with your taxi.”
He had a complicated expression, “See how harsh she was. Just like that, I drove taxi for ten years, and still working the night shifts every day.”
This taxi driver was from Shanxi, grew up in Jincheng village. There were only 9 people ever went outside of the village in the last twenty years, “When I was 15 I decided to become the tenth.”
50 miles out, he carried bricks for a year, damaged his skins and made two thousand yuan.
Village Minister of the Armed Department sent him off, the man patted his shoulder and side, “good kid.”
Then he was pulled to Beijing to join the military, stood in front of the former Soviet embassy as a guard.
Once the Ambassador’s daughter saw him, she hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. He was nervously shaking, and then spoke into his walkie-talkie, “Reporting, I was kissed.”
The radio went silent for two seconds and said “Maintain soldier’s bearings!”
Then someone sent over a white towel.
He was actually related to JJ as well. When it was the most popular club he was rented as the security guard.
He was immersed in past memories, “During our time… we were so slick, wearing a black suit, in front of the club were the most beautiful girls in the whole Beijing…”
He was excited and directly drove the car into Parkson mall underground parking despite that I asked him not to. He parked the car in a fixed parking space and said “I will wait for you here until you finish shopping then take you back.” An old man came up to us and said he was not allowed to park there, he put on a pair sun glasses and said “XXX department, on a mission”.
The old men twitched his mouth, wanted to say something but did not and left.
He turned around and said to me “See? Going into unavoidable confrontation, the brave one wins.”
One day I was not happy, got into the car and did not say a word. The taxi driver didn’t even look at me, he drew out his words “girl, life is just eight characters, happiness, anger, grief, joy, depression and worry, (last two words have two character each) ‘happiness’ and ‘joy’ are only two characters out of the eight, see through it then everything is ok.”
One of the buddies on Bullog is a foreigner, he took a taxi in Beijing.
“Where are you from? … Oh United States, United States is a good place.” The taxi driver said.
Then two of them talked about George W. Bush, Iraq war, military-industrial synthesis and so on.
The taxi driver said “Oh, you are an idealist!”
They chatted about the political differences between United States and China, then the taxi driver changed subject, asked him if he studied ancient Chinese philosophy. He said that he never learned anything other than Zhuangzi.
“Zhuangzi is good, but if you really want to know politics, you have to read “Guanzi”. The things it talks about are still useful today: administer a country must enrich its people first …”
Then two men talked about ancient Egypt, Beijing’s job market, human nature. When approaching Wudaokou, the driver asked a common question, “Where is your home in the States?”
He answered while getting out of the car, “Philadelphia”.
“Philadelphia! Franklin! He is a character!” The driver signed, then stepped on the gas peddle and disappeared in the night.
When I got into the car, I saw the taxi driver was uneasy.
After a while he could not hold back anymore and asked me “Can I smoke?”
I do not like the smell of cigarettes, but I glanced at him, a humble man, looked like has been holding for a while. I rolled down the window, nodded my head “go ahead”.
He awkwardly took out a cigarette box, then put it back.
“You go ahead, smoke”
He was embarrassed. “Forget it, forget it.”
“Then give me one” I said.
Summer’s coming, we both rolled down our windows, both spoke no words, each holding a Zhongnanhai (cigarette), both put one hand out of the window, satisfyingly moving on the Chang’an Avenue in the evening wind.