Any taxi cab drivers out there might have encountered this situation at least once or twice: It's late at night, you're on your usual route, and you pick up a passenger who seems despondent. You get into a conversation with this passenger and it turns out that the passenger is having terrible luck hooking up with a potential mate. Then the passenger talks about what they were looking for in their guy or gal, and you listen carefully and maybe offer a bit of advice here or there because he or she is your customer and you want them to be happy. Then you arrive at the passenger's destination, drop him or her off, then you pick somebody else up. Again, the person is lovelorn and has also had some bad luck in the dating arena. You shake your head as they describe what they are looking for because they describe the person, to some degree, who had just been dropped off.

A situation similar to this happened to 50-year-old Egyptian immigrant and New York City cab driver Ahmed Ibrahim. Actually this happened to him many times and finally one day he decided he was going to do more than just sit by and listen.

Since the early 80's, Ahmed has been a cab driver in the Big Apple and has had meaningful relationships with many of his fares. He has even decorated his cab for Christmas, sends birthday cards to befriended passengers, and even gives out roses on Valentine's Day. So he has always been an unusual type of cabbie, but what he decided to do one night many years ago was unprecedented.

One night Ahmed began joking around with a girl who had said she could not find a boyfriend. On a whim he asked her for her number. Three days later a male passenger was also striking out at the dating game. Ahmed saw the opportunity and gave him the girl's number. In another three weeks, the girl called Ahmed and said that she had gone out on a date with the gentleman and was having a great time with him.

"Oh my God, this is my new project," Ahmed said to himself.

After that, for fun (he doesn't charge anybody for the service) Ahmed decided to play Cupid, to run a match-making service from his cab. He's gone balls to the wall with his service and has made many successful matches with all types of people: fashion designers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and even the son of a former New Jersey mayor. He has a very simple protocol: first he records brief interviews with select passengers -- they must be willing to settle down (men in their 20's are usually ruled out), older men just looking for cute little teenage girls are definitely ruled out for being too creepy, and they must be gainfully employed because women just looking for a sugar daddy are ineligible. Second, he collects their cell phone numbers. When he thinks he's found good matches he calls both passengers and, with their permission, he gives each the other's number.

"He's better than," says repeat customer Troy Danka, a 26-year-old technology consultant.

Since starting this service, Ahmed Ibrahim has been on the Fox News Channel, NBC's "Today Show," and the Wall Street Journal. Hollywood has even shown interest in his story. Hmmm, could there be a movie in the works?

Natalie Dillon was one of his best successes. One day in April 2004 after a party she climbed into Ahmed's cab and the conversation steered toward how tough it was to find a good guy. Ahmed told them through the bullet proof glass partition that he made matches. Six months later, she's still going strong with Martin Karamon, the 34-year-old lawyer that Ahmed set her up with.

Not all his matches have been successful. But many who do not make a love connection on the first try come back to Ahmed again.

"I hope I can accomplish a few marriages," Ahmed said of his ultimate goal in this endeavor. But, perhaps ironically, marriage is not in the cards for him.

"Marriage is not for me," he said, who does have an ex-wife. However, he does have a girlfriend -- somebody he met in his cab.

(since this cnn link doesn't work anymore, try this one)

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