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There is a customer, Luana, I drive once a year back and forth, that is, to and from Trudeau Airport on her yearly visit to her Swiss home of birth. The airport was called Dorval until a couple years ago, and they haven't changed all the road signs. The important thing is to not mistake it for Mirabel Airport which is many miles north of Montreal, tres many miles. I don't know much French, but enough to understand the road signs, thank goodness.

I drove Luana, a retired woman, a couple days ago. I genuinely enjoy her company. She's cultured, and she sits next to me in the front seat and we discuss culture. Among other areas, this includes classical music, fine art, jazz and opera. I feel tres ignorant during these conversations, but I do know just enough to keep up my end of things.

Luana is not a dilettante. That is to say, she enjoys the arts with gusto, and not as an affectation. She's very opinionated, but is always clear that her opinions are merely her opinions. That is the difference that makes all the difference, isn't it?

As one example of her zesty tastes, she loves Placido Domingo but abhors the late Luciano Pavarotti, from his high C's down to his flashy, pocket handkerchiefs. She was able to articulate the differences in the very divergent musical approaches taken by the two tenors, and I got it. I had thought every opera aficionado worshipped Pavarotti, so that was news.

But the point is, how refreshing to discuss Vivaldi rather than the Rolling Stones, or Manet instead of "Grey's Anatomy." At least, for one two-hour drive. (Three if you include the border crossing.)

When we reached Trudeau Airport, I pulled the cab to a stop at the KLM departure doors. I helped her unload, she gave me a white envelope with the fare and we kissed on both cheeks. I felt so very European. Tres European.

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About The Author

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac is a Burlington cab driver whose biweekly "Hackie" column has been appearing in Seven Days since 2000. He has published two book-length collections, Hackie: Cab Driving and Life, and Hackie 2: Perfect Autumn.


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