Thursday, 6 December 2018

Unusual friends - Porters, Handymen and Taxi Drivers

Continueing the 'Unusual friends' series. Part 4 with a look at the Porters, Handymen and Taxi Drivers.

Now we have to tread carefully. Marisol is the President of the community in our building for the year 2019, so whatever I say will be under scrutiny. The set of people that fall into the Porters and Handymen category who I know, contain a variety of depths of friendship. In England and also in the US cities the porters were (perhaps still are) sign of a posh building and always to be respected, and when you saw that the apartment you would like to rent was in a building that had a porter, it generally meant that you could double your rental costs.
However in Spain until recently every building had a porter whose job came with an apartment included free of rent or cost and somehow the community charges were always very low. Perhaps they never got paid.
When I first came to visit my Father-in-law back in the seventies I came across this profession because his building had one of these, she was a very pleasant Cuban lady and lived with her family in the building. What she actually did apart from standing in the doorway from time to time I am not too sure.
More recently we came across a couple who are also in this profession and we meet them occasionally in a bar around the corner. However my favourite is a man who works at a building nearby who has become a good friend over the years. I did not know him much until about ten years ago, when he signed up to attending my birthday party in India. Since then I can no longer classify him as unusual and more recently he has been part of our Camino de Santiago group and we have shared a lot of experiences together.

Moving on to another unusual association we come to taxi drivers. Ever since I had this hair raising experience with a taxi in Maracaibo (in Venezuela) where we lived for a while many years ago, I have a lot of respect for the people who run these cars. What happened is that for some reason I happened to catch a cab in the centre of Maracaibo, and just as I opened my mouth, the driver said 'Mire seƱor, usted quiere ir a su casa o la oficina'?
That translates to 'Would you like to go home or to your office'?
I quickly changed what I was going to say to 'Do you know where I live'?
'I know all about you' he replied, or words to that effect.
Since Maracuchos were keen to pull out their guns at the least annoyance, I did not pursue that line of inquiry any further.
Anyway, here in Spain also I would think all the taxi drivers would know that much about me. One in particular has become a family 'friend' and we have used him whenever we have an occasion to use a taxi.
The other day I was ordering a drink in a nearby bar, something that one does often under the general activity of 'tomar algo' (I have friends who could be called Name Tomar Algo Surname, but I digress). Collecting my drink I was about turn around to join Marisol, when a man sitting nearby said to me 'Ah, you do not recognise me'. At this I looked at him more closely and sure enough it was our taxi 'friend'. 'Hombre, we have not seen you for a while', I said.
I then found out that he was retiring and that his son was now taking over his cab and his clients.
Being in the same boat, I wished him all the best and perhaps we will be seeing him more often, if you see what I mean, 'tomando algo'.

1 comment:

Manjeet said...

I think the porters in Spain are often given an apartment on the premises, some buildings have a specific apartment just for them, that's one of the perks which probably reduces the community cost to pay the rest of the salary.