11pm on Christmas Eve:
“I am Serbian Orthodox, so driving Uber on Christmas is perfect. Our Christmas is in a couple of weeks, on the seventh.”
“I respect what the Jews have. Another rider was telling me, how the Jews have houses, where you can stay anywhere in the world, if you get in trouble anywhere in the world you can talk to the what’s it called, the rabbi is it? And you can get a meal, a place to stay.”
“That’s interesting what you say about the Reform movement. You know, I say, what I call it, is America—don’t take this the wrong way—but I say America is where nations, where cultures come to die. When I go home to Serbia, people all want to come to America, but there’s so much there that I miss.”
“In this country, it is an epidemic of loneliness is what I call it. Like a sickness that spreads. Yes, especially with the elderly. The idea that the elderly would live alone like this. I think this is what is behind so much of the violence. It is fear.”
With this, we pulled into a mob of swarming families (large ones) signaling our destination. The stairs of the cathedral stretched down almost all the way to the street. There’s nowhere to go but in, and it makes about as much sense to our post-Yugoslav cab driver as it does to us, a couple of millennial Jews going to midnight Latin Mass in the middle of Hanukkah, out of a supernatural call or just an appreciation of what a big, old city in a big, old cosmos has to offer.