Tell Rick That Carmine Says Hello..

Rick Steves is a guy that makes a living traveling the world, and writing very helpful travel books. Back in 2000, My wife (GF during this time) and I were on a month-long back-packing trip through Italy and after a very active first half of the trip, we had decided to R&R on the Amalfi Coast in the South. Much of the North was fairly simple navigation, but the further south you go, the more rustic- particularly as you wiggle through Naples.

We arrived at Amalfi through Sorrento. Sorrento is a nifty beach town, a bit smoggy, with lots of scooters and high energy. For the first time of the trip, I decided to grab a cab to get through the winding mountains, as I just simply could not make out the bus schedules. A small white cab was sitting in the bus lot. I make my way to him, negotiate a bit, and we hop in.

No sooner we get moving, he asks me where we are from. “USA… San Francisco”- I say. “Ah”, he says, “do you know of Rick Steves?” he questions. I tell him of course, and in fact his guidebook is in my backpack. Our driver than grabs a copy of the same book that was sitting on his dash, and hands it over to me. A large paperclip was on the page for quick access. “I’m in Rick Steves book, me and my father, see? My name is Carmine”. Sure enough, there in Ricks book, it says something to the order of ‘if you ever need a ride from Sorrento to Amalfi, find Carmine and his fathers taxi business for a pleasant ride through the hills’. Carmine then says, “if you ever run into Rick Steves in America, please tell him Carmine says hello”. My wife and I both chuckle, and oblige Carmine with ‘Sure, sure we will”.

Well about a year later, Rick Steves is on public television promoting his travel guides. It’s a rainy day in San Francisco, and my wife and I are watching his marathon fundraising promotion on KQED. About lunchtime that day, we stroll to North Beach to grab a bite at Francis Ford Coppolla’s wine & sandwich shop at the base of his Zoetrope film headquarters at the foot of Columbus Ave.

As I’m wolfing down a panini sandwich with a glass of chardonnay, I see what I think is a guy that looks like Rick Steves- walking on the sidewalk, and right past the sandwich shop. I tell my wife, I think I just saw Rick Steves, and after a quizzical look, she says, you know its possible because he is in town at KQED doing his show. Then she looks slightly to her right and her eyes peer upward, and I take notice of her frozen disposition. I flip my head around, and there about a foot away is Rick Steves and his wife, scoping out the place looking for a table.

Instantly, I wind up to say hello, but my wife, a very shy wife, steps on my foot and give me a ‘please don’t say anything’ look. I reel myself in, think twice, and then impulsively flip my head around and bark out “Rick.. Hey Rick”, to which he and his wife instantly respond and Rick kindly says, “yes” and “hello”. I then inform him that “Carmine from Sorrento said if I ever run into you in the states to say hello, so, I’m saying hello to you on behalf of Carmine”, I finish.

I see the reference go off in Ricks mind pretty quickly, and he bounces back with “Ahh yes, Carmine the cab driver from Sorrento, ok yeah, nice guy, him and his father. Thank you”. I wave, he waves, and after a few more seconds, they turn around and vacate the place. I figured he probably just wanted a a few moments of anonymity with his wife and I just destroyed that notion for him.

In any case, the world got very small for everyone involved on that day.


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