She opens the trunk of the taxi for me to dispose of my suitcase. It’s still dark. We leave the artisan quarter around Place République smoothly and soft. An interesting half hour of listening to an educated Parisien accent, talking about the taxi crisis that’s making her work eleven hours per day topped off by one and a half hours of commuting one way to come up to Paris and one and a half hours to return to her village. Seven days a week. Initiatives like Uber and Bla Bla Car have been taking over the taxi business. One and a half years ago her Parisien license including the car imatriculated with a Parisien number plate, valued two hundred and fifty thousand euros. Now the value is half the price and no one is buying. She can’t get rid of it. Nor is she capable to earn more then the costs of her taxi and the license. Her sorrows are quite hard to stomach at 5.30 am.
Women with scarfs had taken over the Parisien banlieu where she used to live. ‘Nothing against their religion. But the second or third generation young muslims, they become extremist. The scarfs change into burkas.
‘My Muslim colleagues are not like that’, she explains. ‘In the morning when we meet up for coffee there’s two other French, I am the only woman, five Asians and three muslims. These people are okay. They don’t even do Ramadan. Because in our job, working eleven hours in a row, often starting or finishing in the middle of the night, fasting is not an option. I’ve left the banlieu for the sake of my ten years old daughter. We’ve changed from a 45 m2 apartment to a house with a garden. My daughter has a bike now. It’s worth driving one and a half hours to Paris for work. But the future doesn’t look bright’.
I change the subject and when she drops me at the airport at 5.45 am, I thank her for the discourse, wish her a pleasant working day and remark that I’ll be flying with Turkish Airlines, closing the circle of our conversation.