Atta Ikede

June 13, 2009

Ethiopian, father of 3, retired x-ray tech, almost millionaire

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 10:47 am

Taxi driver.

I was waiting outside for Yellow Cab when this guy drove by, also in a Yellow Cab. I waved him down thinking he was my cab, but when my phone rang 5 minutes later saying my cab had arrived I realized that this guy was just a random cab driver I’d flagged down! Haha!

We got to talking, he asked me about my ethnicity, and he ended up telling me his amazing life story.

He’s from Ethiopia but he’s been here for 15-20 years. He used to be an x-ray technician but now he drives a cab once a week. His wife is a nurse.  They have 3 boys.

His best friend is an Indian guy with whom he used to work back during his x-ray tech days. Apparently this Indian guy is pretty smart, but his wife is even more amazing: she worked her way through a PhD while raising 3 boys!

Apparently, around 10 years ago, the Indian guy encouraged the Ethiopian guy to buy a townhouse out in Dublin. Dublin is one of the small towns in the East bay. Anyway, the Ethiopian guy was renting at the time and wasn’t sure about buying, but the Indian guy strongly encouraged him to do it. So he did! He bought a townhouse really close to the Indian guy’s own townhouse for around 230 or 250k.

Then the housing bubble happened. The value of the house went up like crazy. Over 600k! The Indian guy started thinking that prices were getting insane and advised the Ethopian that they’d better cash out. So they did! 3 years ago! The Ethiopian was able to net almost 500K from the transaction.

The Ethiopian guy and his wife decided to bank the cash. They lived in a rental apartment for a couple years and then bought a 5 bedroom house way out in Tracy, CA. Tracy is even further inland than Dublin, and they managed to get the house for less than 400K. He quit his job so he could look after the kids. The Indian guy moved to Tracy too and now lives just a few blocks away from the Ethiopian guy!

The taxi system in San Francisco works around drivers having a medallion. The Indian guy had some friends or relatives to had the SF medallion and suggested that the Ethiopian guy give taxi driving a try. So nowadays, the Ethopian guy comes into the city once a week to drive a cab. His mortgage is around $1k a month because he put so much down his rate is pretty low. So even though he doesn’t make much with the cab job, that income basically pays the mortgage which means they can bank most of his wife’s salary.

I asked the Ethiopian guy whether they take fabulous vacations.

He turned around the pointed at his hat. It said Maui.”We went here earlier this year.”

So what happened to the Indian guy? Well he changed to part time hours and so basically these two dads spend a lot of time hanging around the house calling each other. They have parties on weekends where the families watch Hindi movies.

How old is this Ethopian guy? 36.

His advice to me? Don’t get into debt, and – no joke – basically be careful who you marry.

I have a suspicion he’ll be a millionaire before he’s 40.

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4 Comments »

  1. WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!

    Comment by picnic buddy — June 15, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  2. I know! And honestly, the best part of the story was how he became buddies with the Indian guy. Can you imagine? Two middle aged guys, semi-retired, staying with the kids half the week, calling each other up when something interesting happens. Hehe.

    Comment by attaikede — June 15, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  3. An interesting true story that can make it to the Chicken Soup books. To succeed in anything, you need the know-how, the opportunity and luck. In this case, the doctor had the know-how, the US west coast was the opportunity and the ethiopion was lucky in having the doctor as his guide and was smart enough to listen to him.

    Comment by Dad — June 22, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

  4. The indian guy wasn’t a doctor. He was another xray tech.

    Also, what’s with the chicken soup reference?? Dad. That was needlessly snarky … … …

    Comment by attaikede — June 22, 2009 @ 8:12 pm


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