Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Taxi Cab Driver's Story

If you've not heard this, have a read.
 'Tis the season...

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.
Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional.
Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me
about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me,
ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.
but none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single
light in a ground floor window.
Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as
their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I
always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my
assistance, I reasoned to myself. So 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 long pause, the door
 opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me.
She was wearing a print dress
and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940′s
movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no
one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with
sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils
on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and
glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said.
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She
took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me
for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the
way I would want my mother treated.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you
drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a
hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t
have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have
very long.”
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you
like me to take?” I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through
the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an
elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived
when they were 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’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or
corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said,

“I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

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 already seated in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers,” I responded.
Almost without 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, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind
me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift.
I drove aimlessly,
lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if
that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient at the
end his shift?
What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven
away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more
important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives
revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us
unaware–beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, ….but
they will always remember how you made them feel.
Take a moment to stop and appreciate the memories you have made, the
memory making opportunities around you and make someone feel special
today.
Pietate et Scientia (Faith and Knowledge)
“Do all the good you can.
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you can!”

http://kentnerburn.com/

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