"Oh man, you live in Toronto? I love Toronto! I go there a lot. I have a friend who races horses at Woodbine."
"Woodbine, is that the one near the airport? I live right near there."
"Toronto's a great town. I love hockey, so you know I love going up to Canada."
Talk of hockey leads to talk of baseball, and as it turns out...
"Well, I couldn't really say, I'm a Red Sox fan."
"Get outta here! Me too! I'm a total diehard!"
"No way? Another New York area Sox fan!"
Typical how-is-our-team-this-year talk goes on for a while, both of us quite animated. Do we have a decent closer, the excitement of Jackie Bradley, Jr., what's it like to see Youk play for the other side. I did get a hint that something was amiss...
"Canada's great, except you can't go to Quebec. They hate us there."
"Nah, that's just something people say. Quebec is wonderful. Montreal is an amazing city."
"Oh yuck, Montreal. I have never been there."
"Montreal is terrific! It's like being in Europe."
"Ugh, if i wanted Europe, I'd go to Italy, not fucking France."
So it's back to the Red Sox...
"What is up with Pedroia? The man needs a shave and fast."
"Well damn, no wonder Ellsbury looks so hot, next to that!"
We're laughing about this when we get to the airport. The cab pulls in, and an attendant leans towards the window and politely asks the driver to pull up a bit more.
The driver yells, "Get out of my face, you foreign bastard. Go to hell, Achmed!"
I was so taken aback I could barely react. I had been up all night, was wasted, feeling sick, and was very close to missing a flight. I make it a point to challenge bigotry whenever I hear it, but I was frozen with exhaustion and surprise. I can't remember the last time I heard such blatant racism.
I wonder how often the airport worker hears it.