Connections: The Guyanese Driver’s Retort

“Connections” is an occasional series about the small but profound interactions with strangers that bolster faith in humankind.

How the phrase “I mean well!” was ruined forever by our Uber driver’s flawless retort

He picked us up in the early evening to take us to Margot for dinner. “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash was on the radio. I love that song. It’s bouncy and cheerful and a little bit mournful. Hal and I sang along and swayed in the back of the car. “Are you musicians?” the driver asked, with a James Earl Jones voice and a tropical island accent.

“Nope!” we said. The song ended and a reggae tune came on.

“Then how come you like such good music?”

We laughed and started chatting. He was large and silver-haired and hailed from Guyana. We somehow got him going on a diatribe about his son and daughter-in-law. He liked the daughter-in-law but considered the son an idiot and a ne’er-do-well. He had us laughing all the way across the river, ranting about filial malfeasance.

During a rare pause, Hal, always looking for the silver lining, interjected, “Well, I’m sure he means well!”

“I mean well” is a favorite go-to for Hal, used whenever he needs a cover of laughter for a moment of mild embarrassment. But our driver was not having it. The feckless son did not merit a rescue, however small. As we rolled up to Margot, the driver boomed back immediately, in his fluid Caribbean cadence:

“Then DO well!”

The Guyanese driver owned the last word on the value of good intentions, that night and for all time.

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