When I get into a taxi, and the driver is old, over fifty, and he wears no wedding ring on his ring finger I feel a tiny pinch of pity. When he works 12 hour shifts and eats chips smothered with dark gravy and keeps his energy soft drink in the cup holder by his elbow so it does not spill when he turns a corner, I wish for him a woman to wake beside, early and in the dark, to roll away from and from whom to lift his weight without disturbing her sheets so he can dress in the bathroom and shuffle out to sit in the cold cab and start the cold engine, and roll out under the street lamps. When his hair is still black for the most part, despite his age, and his hair is combed back and, although his shift started five hours ago, his hair shines as though wet because of the substance he uses to hold it in place and in front of each ear fall thick sideburns, and from within each ear curl shy hairs I wish for him a woman who will complain that he needs a shave before he kisses her and who will buy porcelain shepherdesses to put on top of his television. When he begins to cough loudly so that he cannot continue his conversation and has to open a bottle of cough syrup with one hand as he drives, and when he drinks from the bottle mouth and swallows replacing the cap with fingers bearing blunt nails, I wish for him a wife who stops smoking with him the day his father dies of emphysema and who tells him he has to pull his head in when he yells at the jack russell terrier because his desire for a cigarette makes him irritable.
And when I see a taxi driver who wears no wedding ring I know that he is competition.