A steady stream of talk in Tagalog begins as soon as we get in the taxi.  It continues for most of the 90 minute ride back home from the airport.  Lina is telling her life story and quizzing Jerry, our driver, for his.  By the end of the drive, she knows a lot about him and, if he was paying attention, he could write her biography!

I listen, catching some of the meaning (her story is familiar to me, so I have some prior knowledge).  I marvel at the ease with which she launches into conversation and at how unusual this would be in the US.

There are many reasons for the stream of conversation.  Lina is friendly and curious.  She loves to gather information and has learned much about Manila and outskirts from drivers.  Her animation probably helps drivers stay alert.

But most important, she is building relationship.  This will make it harder for any driver who might be tempted to lead us astray to do so.   A driver could take us a longer route, and perhaps drive us to a place where we might be robbed.  Not likely, but possible.

Lina is stacking the odds against this by engaging them from the very start in conversation, letting them know that she knows the city and the ropes, and inviting them into her world and to share theirs.

I ask her about this conversation later and learn that she was also giving Jerry counseling on his marriage, his job search, his spiritual life.   A taxi ministry!

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