The Cab Ride
I arrived at the adress and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked...'Just a minute,' answered a frail elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a moment the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pill box hat with a veil pinned on it, like someone out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. the apartment behind her looked as though no one had lived in it for years. All of the furniture covered in dust clothes. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick knacks on shelves or utensils on counters. In the corner was a cardboard box full of pictures and glassware.
'Would you carry my suitcase to the car?' I took the bag to the cab then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we slowly made our way to the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness, 'It's nothing,' I told her, ' I just treat passengers how I would want my mother to be treated.'
'Oh your such a good boy' she said. When we got in the cab she gave me an address and then asked 'could drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way' I answered quickly...'oh I don't mind, Im not in a hurry, I'm on my way to a hospice.'
I looked in the mirror, her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she said in a soft voice, 'and the doctor says I don't have very long.' I reached over and turned off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?'
For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she would ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first of sun was creasing the horizon, she said, 'Lets go now. I'm tired.'
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was all ready seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you,' she asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I answered.
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers' I responded. Almost with out thinking I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said, 'Thank you.'
I squeezed her hand and walked into the dim early morning light...behind me a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life...
I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessy lost in thought. For the rest of that day I could barely talk.
What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run or honked once then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think I have done any thing more important in my life.
We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may think as a small one.
People may not exactly remember what you said or what you did, but...they will always remember how you made them feel.
There are times I think back on, that I wish I had changed the way I responded. I hope the 'not so great feelings' were always bested by the good ones.