I love talking to taxi drivers, and I think they sense this because whenever I get into a taxi they take note of where I've been and then they ask me personal questions.
They also dispense wisdom from distant lands. Yesterday, when I caught a taxi outside the Belmont Medical Centre, the taxi driver instantly asked me if I was sick.
We started talking about pain and he said "When you have pain in some part, all of your soul is in that part! Everything is important where there is soul!" He then told me exactly what's wrong with North Americans: "Mortgages!"
He has a good point. He says that instead of spending twenty years saving enough money to make a huge payment on a house -- the way they do it in Turkey, apparently -- we put ourselves into immediate debt by buying a house that we can't afford. Our mortgages are so big that we live in perpetual fear of losing our jobs, and the threat of joblessness is held over our heads by our employees and our government. We don't dare step out of line lest we lose our earning power and therefore our beloved houses.
I don't totally agree. Some of us (most of us?) don't step out of line because we don't see a big enough reason to; we are not convinced that things are so bad and the alternatives are so good. He also admitted that other parts of the world are beginning to embrace the idea of big mortgages for early houses, as advertised by America-own companies on television...on television even in Turkey.
But I do see his point. The problem probably has more to do with us not SAVING money as opposed to going into extravagant debt. Even before I had a mortgage I was afraid of losing my earning power, entirely because I didn't have a financial safety net to land in (and I still don't).
To all Turkish taxi drivers: stick to your principles. Speak truth to power. Remember that Park Street is closed and you will waste my money by trying to drive through it.