Die Arbeitswelt im Wandel - Part 13

posted by usha on 2006/02/08 10:49

[ Die Arbeitswelt im Wandel ]

The SEE Times has a nice story about cab drivers in Belgrade, "their ranks include people with PhDs, top violinists formerly of the Belgrade Philharmonic, ex-professional mountain climbers."

By naming them "philosophers" in the article's title already, the author puts these cab drivers into a common sphere with unpretentious everyday philosophy and philosophers like Socrates and sometimes like the famous sophists.

They seem to regard and perform their new job with enthusiasm and sensibility at the same time. Thus, the cab they are driving becomes the metaphor of changing and mobile times, often reflected on in analyses of the past, the present, and the possible future.

Apart from the sympathetic irony of Socrates being a cab driver (or kiosk owner) the "charming Balkan touch" the author claims for these cab drivers providing information, wise sentences and so forth is by no means restricted to Belgrade. You can have that, for example, in Vienna, as well as in Tallinn, Tartu or Edmonton.

The thing is that "cab driver" never is a genuine profession. It is the very character of being a cab driver that one has had (and maybe will have) another engagement. To continue the philosophical string, cab driving, thus, could be seen as the typical rites de passage for both the driver and the guest. For the latter, the passage time is only sort of "condensed" in comparison to all the years of cab driving of the driver. However, you'll never know, if you end up for some period of your own life-time driving a cab, too, connecting the past via the changeable present to an unsure future and giving wise advice like: "'you'll never lose a ride you're destined for'".


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