Cruising Colfax in a Taxi

His English wasn’t the best, but Marcus and I made it work. He was the taxi driver who showed up for me Sunday morning and, at first, I wasn’t sure I was getting my message across.

“I want you to drive me to Colfax Ave. so I can photograph old stuff,” I explained. “Like old motels, buildings, theaters, etc.”

He just looked at me.

“I want you to keep the meter running,” I continued. “I’m hiring you for the next hour, or so. Are you busy?”

“No I’m not busy,” Marcus replied. “Okay…Let us go.”

He’s from Ghana. He’s been in the US for seven years. He was in New York City for six of those, but moved to Denver last year as “it’s so expensive to live there…and HOT. It’s too hot for me.”

We continued to chat as we drove to the first stop. Meh…not the most exciting motel, so I’m not sure he knew what I was going for. I explained I’m looking for interesting old neon signs, preferably from motels where I could get shot.

“Okay…we go this way,” he told me. I still wasn’t sure he knew where I was going with this, but he had the wheel.

He wants to go home more, but it’s expensive. He misses his children and wife. His parents are there, too. Marcus isn’t young, so I can only guess how old his parents must be.

The next hotel was a keeper. I got out and took a few shots. I hopped back in and off we went on our quest. He actually started getting into it, as he would point out various signs along the way.

We competed for most children fathered. I won by one. He has four boys and one girl, I have five boys and one girl. I threw in that I have a grandson for good measure.

We chatted and laughed as we rolled along. I would hop out and say “I’ll meet you past that one,” and he would drive ahead as I walked along in the cool morning air. What a way to spend a morning.

I was shooting a Nikon F5 with 50mm 1.4 lens, a Nikon F4 with waist level viewfinder using a 24mm 2.8 lens, and a Nikon F3 with a 50mm 1.2 lens. All loaded with Kodak TMax 400.

As we drove through downtown Denver, he explained to me that there are more on the other side. So on we went.

“Colfax is the longest street in the United States,” he told me. “You can drive on it to another state.” I didn’t take the time to verify. Sounds good to me.

As I watched the time tick and my film disappear, we headed back to the hotel. I asked him if he’d wait five minutes for me to get my luggage so he could take me to the airport.

Marcus is making a hard living. He misses his family thousands of miles away.

I’m glad I made a new friend. We had a fun morning together.

Mornings like this remind me how lucky I am to have a job that I love, kids that are happy and healthy, and a place to go home to at the end of the trip.

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