Getting a Free Ride


Gus Shirani, a 51-year-old father of three, had been driving a cab for 25 years. He was born and raised in Pakistan and arrived in the United States as most immigrants do: full of hopes, dreams and ambitions. However, years of cutting corners, gambling and scamming to make ends meet definitely left their mark on him. Tall and lanky, Gus looked like he bought all of his clothes at secondhand stores and failed to put them through the washing machine when he got home. Always wearing things that did not match, did not fit properly and were a few years out of date, he looked like a newly repatriated refugee as he strolled down the city streets. Most of the time he appeared tired and he always smelled of cheap aftershave, which he obviously chose instead of a shower. Gus lived in a working-class suburb just outside of the city. His driver’s license was recently suspended for failing to pay a fine, so he could no longer work as a cabbie. Rather than working on a plan to get his license back so he could earn a living, he spent his time taking the bus to Pakistani cultural centers in town where he would sit around with other natives, drinking coffee, trading war stories about back home and figuring out how to make some money.

Unlike Gus, Sam Hashemi, a 42-year-old from Lahore, Pakistan, did not look like your average cab driver. Sam dressed modernly with a yuppie flair. He wore glasses that made him look studious, and he could have been easily ...

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