Taxi Driver

Explaining conflict — and how we could resolve it — to my young son in the back seat.

Comments: 11

  1. The taxi driver need not be sorry because the episode culminated in this wonderful essay that made me laugh out loud.

  2. Loved every image and word. Read the whole story to my husband, and so did he. Thanks!

  3. What the speaker in Etgar Keret’s piece “Taxi Driver” does not explain to his son is the power dynamic at work in the taxi. The first apology should have come from Mr. Keret, when his son kicked, accidentally or not, the car ashtray onto the floor. To Mr. Keret, the event was innocuous, but the careless disregard of another’s source of livelihood suggests an indifference to the driver and his work. In threatening the driver with exile to a morgue in Abu Kabir, the speaker assumes an outsized power over another’s life, an usurption of agency evident again when the speaker then assumes the thoughts and presumes the voice and proffered apology of the driver. The speaker’s own apology to the “thick hairy neck” in front of him again eliminates, now literally, the integrity of the man in the front seat. The final words allowed to the driver are trite in their echo of the humbled tough guy from a Hollywood film “believe me, kid” -- and provide the speaker with the needed narrative resolution to end his essay. These underlying dynamics are the groundwork of the larger life lesson to his young son regarding the rights of privilege and veneer of noblesse oblige.

  4. You mean the extracted apology merely reinforced the social inequalities? And that in making it, the driver was complicit in upholding those inequalities? Is the moment of the driver's humanizing actually congruent with his humiliation, as a serf?

  5. Yeah, that's one way to look at it. Try the Oedipal complex angle now.

  6. Thank you, Tina Hallquist, for expressing so eloquently my inchoate misgivings when I read this essay this morning. I also think Mr. Keret might benefit from a parenting class.

  7. Two adults, each with their own justification for being angry in 'defending' and 'protecting' their property. Both were out of line, caught up in their own worlds. How nice to see, that with thought and reflection, that each of them realized this is not what we want to model for future generations. This kind of interaction goes on every day, by individuals, groups, and nations. Until we develop tolerance and understanding for those who are not 'our kind,' our species is doomed. This sweet story inspires hope! Thank you Mr Keret.

  8. I found the author's anger at the driver very disturbing. Although he apologized for yelling, he did not apologize for his ugly and threatening words. There was more that this child needed to learn from this incident.

  9. It seems there is something missing in the writer's account that might help make sense of why this encounter was so tense. This took place in Israel, and since the writer's son did not understand what his father said to the driver when he was yelling, I am going to take a wild guess here: the father yelled at the driver in Arabic. And so maybe we can infer that the driver was Palestinian. and so the "power dynamic" that one of the letter writers refers to is not simply the consumer's indifference to the service-provider's work, but a bit more complex. The "outsized agency" exercised by Mr. Keret takes on another dimension.

  10. Maybe, but based on my admittedly limited experience many Israeli taxi drivers are Jewish immigrants from Russia and other countries. (I also doubt, given Jewish burial rituals, that a gentile would be hired for such work--likely an empty threat, at any rate.) I can attest with greater authority to the fact that preschoolers, who are still acquiring their native languages and--more significantly in this context--are learning to navigate the rules of social interaction, often do not fully understand adult conversations and ask their parents to explain.

  11. Dear Brooklynite, if you know the Israeli culture , Mr.Keret as most Israelis ,does not speak Arabic, and there is no such thing as a "Palestinian driver" in central Tel-aviv. Your reading of the power dynamics of the "conflict" although interesting is completely not realistic. And this is a non fiction book.
    Generally speaking, the interpretation of an aggressive behavior dependes on the culture you are living in. An aggressive comment here could be considered just too blunt or honest there...
    I saw Mr. Keret's "flip out" more of a father over protecting his little kid and totally looses it while doing so...