Last winter, on a damp, frigid Sunday, I found myself standing, bags afoot, in front of a small German train station waiting for a cab.At first I took the driver for an unfriendly sort, middle-aged, heavyset. "He's probably been driving this taxi for ages," I thought as he popped the rear hatch.My wife and I had just arrived on a less-than-comfortable overnight sleeper from Italy. Rumpled, tired and eager to get to the nearby U.S. air base, and hopefully on a military flight back to the States, I paid about as much attention to him as he did to us and settled into the immaculately clean and pleasantly warm cab.At first we drove in silence. Then, glancing at us in his rearview mirror, he broke the ice and asked, in very bad English, "Your home air base?"Possessing even worse German -- that is, virtually none -- I explained that we lived in the States. To that, he warmed considerably, and he fired off several city names. "Boston? Miami? Chicago?"When I replied, "San Antonio," he exploded with joy, and paying little attention to the road ahead, he turned, smiling, and answered excitedly, "I go San Antonio!""Oh," I said, "You've been to San Antonio?""NO. I go San Antonio ... soon.""Vacation?""No, no," he said, "I go live San Antonio with my son. He marry American girl.""How long will you visit with them?" I asked.To my surprise, he said, smiling grandly, "Forever!"Paying absolutely no attention to the road now, he continued, "I will be American citizen!"I didn't expect this response, and my curiosity was piqued. I dug for more."You want to live in America? You like Texas?""Yes, yes!" he said excitedly. "San Antonio Spurs! Dallas Cowboys! President Obama, ALAMO!"I was floored. I consider myself fairly well-traveled, and it has not been uncommon for me to hear hopeful immigrants from such places as Haiti, Peru or Serbia talk of someday going to the United States. But I think this was the first time I had ever spoken to a less-than-young, employed, Western European who wanted to do so.I probed deeper."We love visiting Germany," I said, "it's such a wonderful country. Why do you want to leave?""America is freedom."Confused, I countered: "But Germany is a free country as well."And that is where he got me."Yes," he said, "but America started it."All I could think to say to that was, "I'm very happy for you.""I happier!" my new friend and soon-to-be fellow countryman replied.As we pulled up to our destination I noticed that the sun was out and it had warmed considerably.Scott Hubbartt of Schertz is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant.