I took a cab home a few days ago from the World Trade Center, after my day at the Chocolate Experience. The cab came from a sitio, which is an authorized taxi stand in Mexico City. (This is supposed to be much safer than hailing one off the street, since sitio stands have a record of your destination and the taxi license number.)
The driver was a friendly 40s-ish man with graying hair. We started chatting and I mentioned that it was my third day in Mexico. “Felicidades!” he said, clasping his hands and giving me the universal “victory” gesture. He asked how I was, and I said I was tired from walking around all day.
“You know,” he said, “if you massage your feet in three spots around the ball of your foot, you’ll feel much better. I promise.”
A few minutes later, he asked: “Do you know what podomancia is?”
“Podomancia. It’s the science of reading feet. You know, like you read palms. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their feet.”
“Interesante,” I murmured.
He asked if I wore high-heeled shoes and I said sometimes. He asked if I had a high arch, and I said yes. He recommended one- or two-inch heels as easiest on my spine, and added some technical stuff about my vertebrae that I didn’t quite understand.
Then he continued, “I can tell about you already that you have a great positive energy, and people around you like to be near you. You’re also busy all the time, which is why your feet hurt. It’s hard for you to sit still. Is that true or not?”
It was true — or at least the latter part. I thought, he knows all this and he hasn’t even looked at my feet yet?
“If you want I can take a look at your feet,” he added.
I hadn’t gotten a pedicure in weeks. My dark purple toenail polish had flaked off so much, my toes resembled mottled bruises.
“Do I have to take off my socks?” I asked.
“No, fine, it’s up to you,” he said. “You don’t have to do it at all.”
This could be interesting. When will I ever get the chance to have my feet read — in a taxi?
So when we pulled up to my apartment and he said, “Quitale la bota?” I did as he asked. Still sitting in the backseat, I took off my boot and planted my foot against the front passenger seat. He turned and rubbed my foot and my arch, and nodded to himself.
“Quitale el calcetin,” he said. Take off your sock.
I hesitated. “Bueno… es que…”
“What? Are you ashamed of your feet?”
I tried to explain my vanity and lack of pedicure in halting Spanish. In the end, I just took off my sock.
My ugly nail polish didn’t faze him. He tugged on my toes and pressed his thumbs against my arch. He said I had a happy marriage (true), and that my husband treats me like a queen (also true). He said we’d have a successful year, and that we shouldn’t worry about money, because we’ll be fine financially this year. He also said I didn’t have any close girlfriends whom I considered honest and trustworthy, which wasn’t true, but anyway.
My foot rub lasted about five minutes, the entire time parked in the taxi. People walked by and I wondered what they were thinking. (Que asco? Que raro? Que, to use the word I learned at dominoes on Saturday night… chinaco?) Truthfully, no one even looked in our direction. I’m sure chilangos have seen it all.
In the end, my feet felt much better than when I stepped into the cab. I told him so and he seemed happy.
As for the cost — he’d left the meter running. (Of course!) But he asked if I had checked the meter when we’d arrived, and I guessed a number about 20 pesos below the current amount. He agreed and sent me off with a string of goodbyes.
“So nice to meet you! Enjoy your time in Mexico! I hope that you find all that you’re looking for and that you have great success here! I hope that God helps you and that the angels are at your side!”
When I walked in to our apartment, I thought: Did that really just happen?