It was almost noon in Amman, Jordan, and the temperature was already in the upper 90s. From the sidewalk in front of an expensive shoe store, a shopper waved his hand, and the taxi pulled to the curb and stopped.
The man with the bags opened the back door, tossed in his purchases, and slid into the seat. “Abdoun,” he said to the driver. The affluent suburb of the national capital did not see many fares since most people who lived there owned their own vehicles. Many of them had drivers.
“You live in Abdoun?“ the driver asked. The passenger looked out the window as the taxi pulled into traffic.
“Yes, but that’s none of your business.“
“My apologies, sir,“ the driver said quickly, looking at his passenger in the review mirror. “I was only curious.”
“Don’t be,“ the passenger answered.
The next minute or so passed, and the two men proceeded in silence. “Well, if you must know,“ the passenger said finally, “my car is in the shop.“
“I’m sorry if I offended, sir.“ The driver said respectfully.
“No worries,“ his fare said.
“Repairs can be costly. And having a vehicle is expensive, sir. I know even maintaining this taxi it’s not cheap,” the driver added. “The economy doesn’t help.”
The passenger scoffed. “You are telling me,“ he said. “The government does not seem to be doing anything to help us.“
The driver looked in the rearview mirror and narrowed his eyes. “The King should be able to have a larger effect on prices.”
The passenger looked forward and caught the eyes of the driver. “Oh, I don’t know. Don’t be so hard on the King. I think his hands are tied by economic factors outside of our country. He’s doing his best. For one so young.”
“For one so young, perhaps,” the driver echoed. “You like our King, then, sir?”
The passenger leaned forward in the seat. “It is not ours to like or dislike the king,“ he explained. “We have no choice in his rule over us.“
“What do you mean, sir?“ the driver asked.
As the trip proceeded, the passenger spent most of the trip telling the driver what he thought about kings and nations. He told the driver that kings are put over us by God, that we are as subject to them as we would be to Allah since Allah put the king in power. However, he explained, the king of Jordan was smart and capable and wise. For one so young.
“For one so young,” the driver repeated again as they arrived at the man’s destination. The house was fine and comfortable but not ostentatious by any means.
As the passenger got out of the taxi, the driver also stepped out to assist with the bags. “No, no, I have them,” the man said. “How much do I owe you?”
The driver smiled. “Nothing; it is I who owe you, sir.”
“Oh, come on! I have to give you something,“ the passenger insisted, reaching into his pocket.
The driver got back into the taxi. “You gave me more than you know,“ he said, and he drove away.
“What a nice young man,“ the passenger thought as he took his bags inside his house.
Back in the taxi, 37 year old King Abdullah II of Jordan smiled to himself and looked for his next fare.