Last week in London, a taxi cab driver struck up a conversation with me while taking me to Victoria station. “Ah, you’re American are you?” he asked. “Trump’s gonna be in town in a few days, you know,” he added.
Oh yes. I knew. I had been amused earlier that morning when reading that the Mayor of London had approved the Baby Trump Blimp.
“I hear you’ve got quite the welcome planned for him,” I replied.
“Oh yes. He’s doing a great job, you know. Speaks his mind. Doesn’t take the piss from anybody. And, he’s actually doing something about the immigration problem over there.”
Oh, my. It was early morning, and I wasn’t really in the mood for this kind of conversation. So, I tried to mumble my way incoherently to something more neutral.
That got me a minute or so.
“Where in the States are you from?” he asked. Well, at least there’s a way back to a neutral conversation, I thought.
“I actually live in Berlin now.”
“Oh, really!” he exclaimed. “Hell of a lot of immigrants there now. I hear they’re just flooding in, aren’t they? How’s it like living there?”
Shit. Ok, let’s do this.
“Well, actually, it seems better than you what you might be hearing. I know some of the locals are really unhappy about it. From my point of view, however, the only impact on my day-to-day life has been to make for long queues at the local government offices. And, really, given the reality of what they’ve come from, I can handle that.”
“Really?” he asked with surprise. “Still, I can’t imagine living with so many immigrants all around.”
Ah, for fuck’s sake.
“You know, since I’m American, I guess that makes me an immigrant as well,” I said. “My wife too. She’s from Greece.”
Fifteen minutes later or so, we arrived at the train station. I paid. The cabbie drove off. And, I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot in the days since and about how being white means I’m not one of those immigrants. Which means it’s not really about immigration now, is it?