On the way to school, the taxi driver seized the opportunity to ask me if all those boys and girls carrying their bags do well in school. I found myself obliged to answer this existential question that everybody asks about students whenever they meet teachers.
The man didn’t expect that I would start asking him a series of questions instead of giving him a ready-made answer because this was not the first time I had been asked that question.
I replied, “Do all people who go to the market shop? Do all people who wear a white jellaba pray? Do all Muslims pray and fast in Ramadan? Do all drivers respect the road regulations? Do all athletes win their races?”
The taxi driver, burst into noisy laughter that seemed to me like glasses breaking and said, ” Of course not all of them. There are exceptions, of course”.
“Well then, why do you want all those who go to school to study and get degrees and a job with the government?” I asked him with a smile.
I stopped for a while before I went on saying, “It is simply impossible dear friend.”
The man continued his laughing while nodding his head in an expression of agreement.
“You are right, teacher….yes, you are right, my teacher,” he kept repeating in a low voice.
Then I told him, “We must realize that not all animals that are born in a forest will be lions and lionesses. We need donkeys, monkeys, sheep, foxes, dogs, pigs, cows, chickens and hedgehogs.”
I posed for a while to be sure that the man understood what I was saying. Then I added, ”Similarly, not all students who attend schools will be doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses ,pilots, politicians. Don’t we need farmers, mechanics, butchers, hairdressers, waiters, criminals, thieves, liars, waiters and waitresses?”
Without looking at me, he smiled and said, “and taxi drivers too?”
I smiled back and said, “Yes, and taxi drivers too. We need them. This is society, my friend. There is a room for everyone. Everyone is created for a mission and a role in his community. The problem is that we forget about our missions and roles and we want all the people to do the same role at the same time.”
He looked at me showing his agreement. I continued, “We do not enjoy the happiness we can get as a reward from doing what we are born for and what we choose to do. We want to do others’ jobs. If everyone is happy with his mission in this world, we will all live happily as brothers and sisters in rest, peace and happiness ‘.
As I was explaining, the taxi driver stopped near the school and told me that he always takes teachers to schools and he always asks them that same question. “This is the first time, I got a convincing answer,” he murmured, quoting what I had told him before.
“You are right, teacher, ‘not all animals that are born in a forest will be lions and lionesses. We need donkeys, monkeys, sheep, foxes, dogs, pigs, cows, chickens, and hedgehogs.”
“I swear, I will never ask that question again,” he told me.
I gave him the money and caught his hand and looked at his eyes. He didn’t want to take the money and he said: “Normally, I do not take money from the policemen because we need them when we have problems and this is a way to avoid their revenge .But starting from today, I will start taking teachers for free too.”
He added, “Teachers like you should be served for free. And your ministry should have afforded buses for you to bring you to school and take you back home too. Why does the ministry of interior provide cars and vehicles for the policemen while they do not do the same job for teachers?’
I laughed and replied,” The day you will be our minister of education, we will have buses to take us to work.”
I told him, “You know what, the ministry doesn’t afford buses for us so that taxi drivers will get more clients and more income.”
I put the five dirhams on the seat and thanked him for the ride and for the discussion.
“God bless you and those who taught you.…They cannot all be lions nor sheep…. They can not all be successful in schooling”, I heard him saying.