When you get in Ahmed Ibrahim’s yellow cab in New York, there are no flashing lights, bursts of music and an ebullient driver announcing, “You’re in the Cash Cab!” But you just might find yourself with a prize worth more than a handful of Ben Franklins.
Crystal Ingorvaia and Tabber Benedict can vouch for that. As they told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb on the plaza at Rockefeller Center, Ibrahim set them up on a first date that has turned into a romance.
“We’re going to have a nice dinner tonight,” Benedict said of their Valentine’s Day plans. “It’s all good now.”
It’s nothing new for Ibrahim, who sat in his cab and told Kotb that 19 couples he’s introduced to each other have stayed together for more than a year.
Known as the “Cupid Cabbie,” Ibrahim is becoming something of a celebrity in the Big Apple because of the match-making services he provides for selected passengers.
“If they qualify, I take their e-mail and I e-mail them: What’s your religion, do you smoke, how old you are, what job, what you’re looking for? And I put them together with a little bit of common ground,” he explained.
In a town in which single women outnumber their male counterparts, word of a person like Ibrahim spreads quickly. He started somewhat by accident three years ago when he picked up a woman who was crying because she had just broken up with her boyfriend and asked her what was wrong.
The woman trusted Ibrhaim, a 50-year-old Egyptian immigrant who sports a neatly trimmed mustache and rimless glasses that make him look a bit like Mahatma Ghandi, and gave him her number. Three days later, he picked up a man who he thought would be a good match for her, called her up, and set them up.
Now, New Yorkers looking for dates seek him out.
Ingorvaia was one of them. “I had heard about him in the past,” she told Kotb. “I had a friend who got into his cab. I heard about his articles in The Wall Street Journal and a couple of other places. I just thought, why not, it’s exciting and fun.”
She gave Ibrahim her information and a month later, he called and set her up with a date. “It didn’t work out,” she said.
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But Ibrahim, who now keeps files of several hundred names on a computer, kept her in his system.
“About eight months later, Tabber got into his cab, and he said, ‘I have the girl for you,’ ” Ingorvaia continued. “He was talking about me.”
Benedict, who wasn’t familiar with Ibrahim’s reputation, was skeptical. “How times do you hear friends say, ‘Oh, I have the perfect person for you,’ and it turns out so badly?” he said. “But I saw a picture of her, and I thought she was so beautiful that I thought it was worth taking a chance.”
As the couple told their story, Ibrahim sat in his cab, its windows decorated with Valentine’s Day hearts. He beamed as Kotb thanked Ibrahim for doing his part to bring New Yorkers together.
“You’re welcome,” he said cheerily before setting off for another day’s work – and perhaps another match made. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
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