Driving a taxi is a hard job, with the occasional quiet shift, poor tips or surly passengers. According to recent studies, it can even have a detrimental effect on a driver’s health. This Las Vegas cab driver, however, was given the surprise of his life by a passenger – one that might change his life.
Pedro Hahamian has been working behind the wheel of a cab for almost 20 years. In that time, he has seen the business become much more challenging, to the point where it has even become difficult to earn a decent living. Unfortunately, this was starting to badly affect Hahamian’s life.
“It’s tough. It’s tough,” Hahamian told KGNS. “Too many taxis now. It’s hard to make a living.” And drivers are working longer hours as a result. As an illustration, a poll of drivers revealed that more than a third of them do not take days off.
Additionally, the advent of on-demand taxi services such as Uber has changed the landscape for traditional cab drivers like Hahamian. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, such drivers have lost 10 percent of their hourly income. Consequently, times are tougher than ever for them.
Although this may be true, Hahamian still hadn’t thrown in the towel. And in January 2017 this driver picked up a passenger who would change his life. Times were hard for Hahamian, and on that day he knew that he was two months behind on his mortgage payments.
In this case, Hahamian felt comfortable enough to discuss his problems with the man in the back seat. He subsequently talked all about the difficulties that he was facing, including his overdue bills. “He seemed friendly,” Hahamian said. “So I thought I could tell him all my problems.”
Hahamian didn’t realize that his passenger was none other than Quincy Amarikwa, a professional soccer player for the San Jose Earthquakes. Amarikwa was on his way to the airport to go home. He listened as Hahamian spoke about his life – and then Amarikwa decided to do something about it.
In fact, Amarikwa figured that the best way to help Hahamian was to cut him a check for $2,200. This was the amount that he was behind by on his mortgage payments. The money could make Hahamian’s life a great deal easier and keep the wolves from his door.
Hahamian was enormously grateful to the soccer star. “I don’t lose my house,” he told KGNS. “I [am] still in my house thanks to him, I appreciate his generosity.” He expressed his gratitude again in a later interview with KTNV, “I think it was luck, and God too,” Hahamian said. “Because this doesn’t happen all the time. It was real. I still don’t believe it.”
For his part, Quincy Amarikwa was happy to explain the reason for his generosity. “If there’s a way that you can help someone, you need to find a way to do that,” Amarikwa told KGNS. “And I let him know. I said, ‘I would like to help you get caught up on your mortgage.’”
In the long run, maybe the help that Amarikwa gave Hahamian won’t last forever. On the other hand, the soccer star feels that perhaps the story will inspire others to pay it forward and prompt more people to help each other. “Why wait for one day to do what you can do on this day?” he added.
Amarikwa talked again about Hahamian in a later interview with The Mercury News. “I could just tell he was a genuinely nice person,” he said. “There’s so many people with great ideas and such passion for what they love. I want to be able to have the resources to help facilitate that.”
It’s also worth noting that Amarikwa waited a while before making his gift public. At first, he just put up a photo of Hahamian and himself together on Snapchat. It was only later that he revealed the story behind the image. And he says that he only did so in the hope it would inspire people.
But while this story is a lovely one to hear, it won’t solve the wider issues in the taxi industry. At the present time, Uber drivers and those on so-called “ride-sharing” apps make more money per hour than traditional taxi drivers. One reason for this is that the app means that Uber cabs are carrying passengers more often.
However, although self-employed Uber drivers might make more, they still lose out on the benefits of working for an orthodox taxi firm. And most of the drivers in the United States are likely to work through apps eventually. As a result, the industry’s protections for drivers may soon disappear if action is not taken.
Hahamian isn’t the first cab driver to pick up someone famous, of course. From time to time drivers pick up celebrities like they were anybody else. In one area of Japan, however, taxi drivers are reporting some very unusual passengers – ghosts.
Not only did the city of Ishinomaki suffer through a terrible earthquake, but on the same day in March 2011 the city was also hit by a tsunami that killed thousands. And in the years since, local taxi drivers have reported picking up passengers who would later vanish into thin air.
One local driver claimed that he picked up a young man who said he wanted to go to a nearby hill. When the driver reached the destination, however, he discovered that his passenger was gone. In a similar case, a woman took a ride to a house that had been destroyed by the disaster – and then disappeared.
“Ghost sightings are perhaps a mental projection of the terror and worries associated with those places,” psychiatrist Keizo Hara told Chat. He went on to state that the sightings are a symptom of the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by many locals, including the cab drivers, since the disaster.
Whatever the truth, Pedro Hahamian’s passenger experience was certainly real. And he’ll remember the words that Quincy Amarikwa said to him when he cut that check. “Pedro, it was nice to meet you,” Amarikwa said. “I would love for you pay it forward next time you can help someone.”