Not a Black Taxi

This morning I made the mistake of trying to catch a taxi on Bei Wa Road 8:15.  It's a tough thing to do, although not as tough as yesterday.  At or about the tenth minute of watching full taxis go by a car pulled up to me and the driver asked if I'd like a ride.  Now, that's not such a strange ocurrance in this town because there are so many "black taxis" — drivers who will take people to their destinations based for an agreed-upon fee.  Mostly they hang out at train and subway stations or other high traffic places.  They also cruise the streets in the morning looking for poor sould lik me who can't find real cabs.  I generally only take them if I can't find a real one or if I am running late, which was my situation this morning.

I opened the front door and hopped in, telling him where I was going (to a nearby school).  Surprisingly, the driver greeted me in English.  I complimented him on his ability and asked if he was studying English.  "Yes," he said, and pointed to a book on the dashboard of his car.  I picked it up and to my surprise saw that it was a Rick Warren book on marriage called "40 Days of Love." Come again???  Our conversation then proceed in Chinese: 

Me:  You're studying this book?

He:  Yes, it's great.  I like it a lot.  I and the others in my 'small group' sometimes attend seminars at the International Church on the other side of town.

Me:  Are you a Christian?

He:  I'm a half-Christian.

Me:  What does that mean?

He: I'm still learning.

Me:  Do you go to church every week.

He:  Yes, but I'm going to America next month.  I just got my visa.  It was difficult.

Me:  America?  That's great. Welcome.  Why are you going to America?

He: Just on a tour.

Me:  Do you drive everyday? (I"m thinking he'd be a good driver contact to have.)

He:  No, I'm not a black taxi. I sometimes pick people up on my way to work to get some extra cash.

Me:  Are you on your way to work now?

He: Yes, I work at a government unit.

Me:  What do you do?

He:  I'm an engineer. 

By this time we'd reached the school and my head was spinning.  I got out, bid him farewell and God bless, and off he went.  I walked into my meeting chuckling, once again reminded that in China nothing is as it seems!