New York cabbie Ahmed Ibrahim has been super busy lately: not as a result of traffic in Manhattan but from playing Cupid from the driver's seat.
Since 2004, when he decided to spice up his work hours, Ibrahim has been collecting names and phone numbers of over 1,000 New Yorkers looking for the perfect match. He has organized more than 100 dates, and at least 30 of them have led to romances which have lasted for more than a year.
Of course, Ibrahim doesn't help just anybody who steps into his taxi.
"Some girls say, if he has got the money, give me a call," said 56-year-old Ibrahim. "I tell them no way, I'm not gonna hook you up with a sugar daddy."
Ibrahim, like any wise matchmaker from his native country, Egypt, has a few requirements including two essential ones: the lonely hearts he helps must have a job and must not be players.
The cabbie listens to his customers' conversations, throws out a couple of exploratory questions, and, if their answers meet his standards, he mentions his free service and jots down their contact information.
Martin Keramon, a 40 year-old lawyer, is one of the New Yorkers who found a nice fit thanks to Ibrahim. The Cupid cabbie matched him a few years ago with Natalie Dillon, a media studies graduate.
"We broke up after six months or so," he said. "But we're still friends, and I ended up going to her wedding."
After years of experience in the field, Ibrahim has boiled matchmaking down to a single tip for his customers: "Don't box yourself in." By that he means do not be too picky, looking only for a Brad Pitt or an Angelina Jolie who will never come. Otherwise, he warns them, they will end up once again in the back seat of some New York cab bemoaning their bad luck.
"I really hope I can accomplish a few marriages," Ibrahim said with a laugh. "I'm an old-fashioned guy."