I was a passenger in a New York City cab not too long ago.

People often perceive New York City cab drivers as being rude.

They don’t really talk to you.

They’re not very engaging.

They don’t really speak English that well.

Sometimes they don’t even say thank you.

So I started thinking, as I was sitting in the back of this cab, what it would be like to be a New York City cab driver immigrating here, hitting the streets of New York and having to deal with an impatient New Yorker, myself being one of them because that’s where I lived for 33 years.

It would be hard. Think about if you were thrown to India right now, or Bangkok.

Or the Philippines. Actually because they speak English, let’s say you were sent to another country where they didn’t speak a word of English, nothing, maybe Afghanistan, or Pakistan.

The majority of people didn’t speak English and you were forced to listen to conversations all day long that are not in your native tongue.

Trying to learn the language, trying to learn the customs, trying to learn how to drive, how to navigate, how to make an income. You might be a little rude too.

Have Empathy for Others

be kind to othersNew York City cab drivers aren’t necessarily rude. Sure, some of them I’m sure are rude; some of them I’m sure are not nice people. But in general, we need to have more empathy and compassion for this type of person. Because they’re just struggling to learn our culture, our language, to fit in.

It’s almost like getting transferred to a different high school when you’ve grown up in another town and have always gone to school with the same people.

You get transferred to this school, you don’t know a single person and the day you get there, there are all these different cliques and you’re trying to figure out which one you want to go for. But the problem is in high school, many of you just get accepted by a certain clique, you can’t go for it, you don’t have the power to do that, it’s almost like you’re either cool or you’re not cool.

Or you’re a nerd or you’re not a nerd and you seem to fit into a specific clique. You remember how hard those days were?

So the next time you’re with somebody and you’re sitting in a New York City cab or any city cab for that matter, any type of mode of transportation that’s being driven by somebody who barely speaks English, or maybe anytime you’re served food by somebody who barely speaks English, have some compassion, be conscientious of others.

Have some compassion for that person because they’re new in this country. They’re trying to figure out their way and they’re not doing it to be rude to you, it’s just that things are moving at a much different pace than they’ve ever imagined. Because every place they lived was probably either a slower pace or a pace they were accustom to.

So the next time the person from Starbucks who barely speaks English irritates you, or the cab driver irritates you, or somebody working at a deli doesn’t get your coffee fast enough or butchers something, have some compassion and empathy.

Make an Effort to Be Kind

Remember they have come here to a brand new world trying to learn our customs, our language and trying to fit in and find people they can be friends with. Have some compassion and empathy for their situation and don’t think they’re doing something to purposely be rude.

You’ve also got to remember whatever your roots are. What your roots once were. Somewhere along the lines, there was somebody in your family who spoke a different language, who came here, who was thrown into a whole different life.

So the next time you’re judging that Indian cab driver who doesn’t speak English very well or the Pakistani guy who served you that sandwich but didn’t do it the right way, those could have been your grandparents.

They came to this country and had to learn a whole new language, a whole new set of customs, and they were the people that everybody was annoyed at in the beginning. Have some compassion because that’s how this country was built. Because 50 years from now, the person that’s driving you nuts today, his kid might be your kid’s best friend, and he became the American person that his dad came here to show him how to be.