National Pride

I am riding in a cab heading from the strip to downtown Las Vegas, just to catch a breath because I need a break from the strip.  I can’t take any more drinks; neither can I stand the sight of all the crazy people who grace the strip daily. As luck would have it, my cab driver happens to have an accent and he is white. As curious as I am, I cant resist the temptation to start a conversation so as to find out about his accent and hopefully hear his struggle with it so I can reassure myself for the millionth time that I am not as dumb as this place made me feel during my first few days. If you think it’s a joke, for over six month I only ate Big Macs because it was the easiest thing I could order without the other person asking me to repeat myself or “what did you say?” because all it entailed was pulling up at the MacDonald’s drive through and just saying, “number one”.


So, as I engaged the cab driver into a conversation, he turned out to be really hilarious. He was from Greece, and at the time, Greece was all over the news for all the wrong reasons. We got to talking about why their economy was tanking, how he likes living in the US, and all the hardships he faces driving a cab in a city full of drunkards and people whose morals, dogma, and norms mean nothing to them. Minutes later, I was in downtown Las Vegas. I paid my dues to him and as I was stepping out of the cab he said, “Do your country proud, national pride is very important.”


For a minute, I was lost. I didn’t understand why he said that, and instead of saying ‘okay’ and minding my own business, I sat back down in the cab and asked him nicely to tell me more about national pride. Before he could utter a word, I told him to come out and have a beer with me as we talked. To make sure he didn’t turn my offer down, I told him that in my culture if a man invites you to have a beer with him, you can’t turn it down because it brings bad luck. He accepted my invite. I don’t know if it was because of the beer, bad luck, or both, but he did.


As we drowned our drinks he said. “I am 45 years old, I married a Mexican woman, but I can’t stand Mexican food, and I have a daughter who is 15 years old. In my line of business, I get to interact with all kind of crazies in my car, from executives to high school kids who come to Vegas. On this particular day, I picked up this lady from the airport who was sharply dressed and she told me she worked for a big, international company as a manager and she was in Vegas for some meeting with other managers. Not to go too much into what she does, at some point during our conversation she said she would like to dare me.


“For a minute, I was taken aback and not sure if I really wanted to accept her challenge. On one hand, I didn’t want to take the risk, because in the back of my mind, I was married and having lived in Vegas for years, I knew where this could lead. On the other hand, kept thinking that if I say no, she will end up living her life thinking that all Greek men are faggots and can not take a challenge from a woman, and I would have let all Greek men and my country down, and I have a duty to make my country proud. I accepted the challenge, and then she dared me that if she showed me her boobs, that I won’t charge her cab fare.

As a man I said yes, thinking she was joking and behold, one of her boobs was out. To this day, I am still waiting for her to show me the other one to see if it’s true that boobs are not symmetrical. I lost the money that day, but at the same time, I was proud that I had made my country proud.”


At this point, we had downed a couple of beers and he said he had to go, but before he left he said, as if reassuring me, “as a man I have the obligation to make my country proud at any given point, no matter what I stand to loose. If I had not accepted her dare, she might have ended up thinking that all Greek men are cowards, and you don’t want that to be said about your country because at the end of the day, it will be the best home you will ever have.” So as he left, I downed another drink and sat pondering on our conversation.


The moral of this story is to encourage each one of us. As much as our country might be a mess, we should never go bashing it in front of foreigners, no matter what we stand to gain. As the Greek guy, we should always put the pride of country first, because east or west, our country will always be our best home.


Wherever you might be make our country proud.




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