As I plug along on my 100 strangers project, I’d like to share with you a chance encounter I had with a very nice guy.
I was in Long Island City. I had just dropped off my car at the mechanic and I was walking towards the bus stop. I had my camera out because I just snapped a few photos of a 1919 Ford Model T outside my mechanic’s shop. A cab driver who was preparing to start his afternoon shift notice me and the chunky dSLR as he was getting in his cab. He shouted over to me with a smile, “Take a picture” and so I did. I asked his name. “Medet Fidan”, he replied, and shook my hand with a welcoming firm grip and a warm smile. When I gave him mine, he wondered what kind of name I had. I told him I was Greek, and so he squeezed my hand a little harder, and said with a sinister smile, “ohhh! I’m Turkish! We’re enemies!”
I laughed and said, “Oh yea, we’re suppose to kill each other or something, right?” He laughed, and then insisted I take a picture of him with “…the best cab in New York. But take a good one!” he said. I was then offered a ride. “Are you going anywhere nearby? Let me take you.” Medet insisted I sit in the front with him. He drove me to the Queensboro Plaza subway station a few blocks away. Medet mentioned he has been in this country for fifteen years. He was very proud to tell me he had just purchased his first house in New Jersey. We also talked photography for a few minutes. He said he has a passion for it and that he’s thinking of getting a better camera. He showed me some of the shots he’s taken on his cell phone of his new home, his wife and teenage daughter. I told him he had a good eye and urged him to pursue his interests. I showed him a glamour portfolio I had on me and he gave me some interesting criticism on the pretty ladies.
For those of you that don’t know, Greeks and Turks are usually mortal enemies. They’ve hated each other for hundreds of years over land, wars and general imperialistic bullshit. In Greek culture, even as second generation Americans, many of us are raised to hate Turks and make jokes about them. Like old-school racist Italians do with Blacks, or Dominicans with Puerto Ricans & vice versa. Frankly I haven’t known many Turks and none have ever done me wrong, so why hate ‘em? I never lived through any of the political turmoil my ancestors did, so I really don’t care. At the end of the day I’m a New Yorker. I don’t hate people because of their race or creed. I just hate them for their actions. If I hadn’t had my camera on me just to go to the mechanic, I wouldn’t have pulled it out to snap a picture of the old Ford. Medet would not have thought twice about talking to me and I would never have met a really cool, down to earth dude.
Carry your cameras. Everywhere!
Find out more about the 100 Strangers project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.100Strangers.com