Sudanese engineers and Argentine financeers

So I'm in Denver right now for work. If you follow me on facebook or twitter you might know that I've been having so much fun it's silly. It all started of with my cab driver. Since I documented my love for them last week I felt almost obligated to accost my driver with friendship. Luckily downtown Denver is a good 1/2 hour form the airport so I had lots of time, because this one was a little... different. He was really starched and pressed and kind of formally quiet. In my experience drivers are usually kind of rumpled (sitting all day will do that to you) and loudly conversing in foreign languages via cell phone.

It seemed this driver was shy, but I don't really see that as a barrier. So I started in with the questions.

Social tip from me: Questions are really the best way to get people talking. Just keep asking people something till they crack. 99% of people like to talk about themselves.

What's your favorite Denver restaurant? Weather, blah, blah. He was polite but not talky. A little difficult this one.

That's when I pulled out my secret weapon: Are you a Denver native?

Obviously I knew he wasn't. Most drivers are immigrants and have the thick accents to prove it, but I feel like asking someone where they are from is rude, it insinuates they don't speak good English. Many people with heavy accents speak perfect English so I don't like to be unintentionally offensive. Anyways, this question was my golden ticket cause turns out my driver was...

A Sudanese electrical engineer who came to Colorado on a full scholarship to University of Colorado, Boulder.

I know! It explained a lot, he wasn't a career driver but merely supporting himself after having been laid off. He of course instantly became my favorite person in the world becuase I love international students. I asked him about Sudan, about how he liked Boulder, about his plans for the future. He said he liked the friendly spirit of the American people but due to the economy (he'd been unemployed for a year, thus the taxi) he was going back to Sudan where he'd found a new job as an engineer. As we speak Ahmad is returning home to Sudan after 8 years in Colorado.

I kind of miss him a little bit already.

We talked forever, about reverse culture shock, learning second languages and how no matter how wonderful the place you go to is, your first home is always, well, home! We were laughing and chatting like old friends, it was awesome. I was really dissapointed when we got to my hotel. I wanted to get Ahmad's info and hang out more, but I'm married and that's both weird and inappropriate so I didn't. I really wanted to hug him and say good luck and I wish you well and thanks for sharing about your life.

That's kind of inappropriate too though so I settled for staring at him in a creepy way as I weighed hugging vs. the more apropos well-wishing. Isn't it amazing though the beautiful stories behind the people you meet? Ahmad and I are really close in age but our lives have been radically different.  Yet still, our paths crossed and we had so much in common. Sometimes life really is beautiful.

Note: I got so carried away with Ahmad that I'll have to leave Part 2 for tomorrow.

Posted on November 8, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World.