The car inched forward in rush hour traffic. It would be at least a half-hour before I reached Mineta San José International Airport. An elephant figurine on the dashboard caught my eye. “Who’s that?” I asked my Uber driver.
“That’s Ganesha,” Narayan said. “Where I come from, he’s the god of good luck.”
“Where are you from?”
“Roman Catholics consider St. Christopher the patron saint of travelers,” I said. “My grandmother always carried a St. Christopher medal in her car.”
“We all need a little luck,” he said.
“Yes we do. So, how long have you been in the states?” I asked.
“About five years.”
“What made you want to come here?”
“I grew up hearing how America was the land of milk and honey. All you had to do was land at an airport and choose from all of the Help Wanted signs in the windows. So, I saved some money and came here with a friend.”
Narayan appeared to be in his mid twenties. I mentally subtracted five years from this approximate age to picture an image of two, starry-eyed teenagers in a futile hunt for invisible Help Wanted signs.
“And how’d that work out for you?” I asked.
He glanced at me sheepishly. “Not well. We landed in Dallas. The airport was huge! I’d never seen an airport that big before. There were no Help Wanted signs anywhere. We figured that the signs were outside of the airport, so we got into a cab.”
“Where exactly did you tell the cabbie to go?”
“To where the Help Wanted signs were,” Narayan said matter-of-factly. “The taxi driver thought we were crazy.”
“I can’t imagine why,” I said.
“By the time we left the airport, we knew we were in trouble. We’d come halfway around the world, didn’t know anybody, didn’t have much money, and had no place to stay, ”
“So, what did you do?” I asked.
“I called my mother.”
I chuckled. “By far the best decision you’ve made yet.”
“She asked if our taxi driver was from Nepal. He wasn’t. He was from Pakistan. She said, ‘Good. Ask him if he knows any taxi drivers from Nepal.’”
“Wait!” I interrupted. “THAT was her plan?”
Narayan nodded. “The taxi driver called a friend, explained our situation, then drove us to this home. We lived with that Nepali taxi driver until we found jobs and a place to live.”
I stared at Narayan slack jawed. “Let me get this straight. You left Nepal with very little money and a plan to find a job upon landing in Dallas. When you didn’t see any Help Wanted signs, a Pakistani taxi driver took you to his Nepali friend who let you live with him until you could land on your feet?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Yes.”
“Narayan, you’re the luckiest person that I’ve ever met.”
He pointed to the dashboard. “That’s why I carry Ganesha.”