A lovely story

September 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s even true

A cab driver wrote:

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover or someone going off to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at the address, 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 short minute, and then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at two-thirty in the morning.

But I had seen too many people trapped in a life of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door to try to find the passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needed my assistance. Would I not want a driver to do the same if my mother or father had called for a cab?

So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute”, answered a frail and elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman, somewhere in her eighties, stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like you might see in a costume shop or a Goodwill store or in a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The sound had been her dragging it across the floor.

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’d like a few moments alone. Then, if you could come back and help me? I’m not very strong.”

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. Her praise and appreciation were almost embarrassing.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered.

“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 said I should go there. He says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?” 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 had first been married. She made 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 have me slow down 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 tar driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. Without waiting for me, they opened the door and began assisting the woman. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her: perhaps she had phone them right before we left.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase up 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 over and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

There was nothing more to say. I squeezed her hand once, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten a driver who had been angry or abusive or impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp?

We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares. When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride. I do not think that I have done anything in my life that was any more important.

About the author of the above story. He is a religious seeker rather than a conventional Christian, though his Christian influences are clear

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Women’s magazine reverses decision to use ‘real people’: “A leading German women’s magazine praised for dropping skinny models in favour of ‘real people’ has reversed its decision after two years – because sales dropped as the lbs piled on. This month’s e-edition of Brigitte features slimline pro-models again. A statement said: ‘From now on, the magazine will work with models whenever we believe that it fits better for a topic or cover image, for more diversity in Brigitte.’ This is code for the ‘real people’ experiment being a failure. During the two year trial over 1,000 women aged between 18 and 68 had been used in fashion and beauty features – ‘to give beauty its naturalness back and show that attractiveness has many faces’. People had wrinkles, tummies, sagging chins and all the flaws of the non-airbrushed of society….but normal women didn’t sell.”

Violent computer games increase your tolerance of pain: “Violent video games in which players have to shoot enemies can actually be good for people, a university has claimed – after discovering the games give people a higher pain threshold. A study at Keele University found that 40 volunteers were able to stomach pain for 65 per cent longer after playing violent ‘first person shooter’ games, than those who had played a non-violent golf game. Participants played both the violent and non-violent game on separate occasions for 10 minutes and then placed one of their hands in ice-cold water to test their reaction to pain. On average, participants kept their hands in the icy water for 65 per cent longer after playing the violent game, indicating that playing the game increased the participants’ pain tolerance. Heart rate was also shown to increase.”

Give us back our Mona Lisa: Italians say: “Italian campaigners have collected over 150,000 signatures calling on the Louvre museum in Paris to hand over Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to its ‘home city’ of Florence. The world’s most famous painting should be returned to the Uffizi museum where was displayed early in the 20th Century, according to the National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage, which organised the petition. But the Louvre museum itself has already snubbed the committee. And Florence’s claims on the Renaissance masterpiece, known by Italians as La Gioconda, might not be that straightforward. Leonardo is thought to have begun work on the enigmatic portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Tuscan silk merchant, in Florence in 1503. But art historians think he took it with him when he moved to France in 1516. The French Royal family then acquired it and following a spell at Versailles it ended up at the Louvre museum after the French Revolution.”

Graffiti vandal gets the girl: “Alexis Creque contacted the photographer who took the stunning picture through Facebook to admit she was the blonde-haired woman kissing her handcuffed beau, identified in a police report as 26-year-old Russell Murphy, as they were hauled to Manhattan Criminal Court last month. Mo Gelber, who specialises in street photography, snapped the well-timed smooch as he was walking past the court and entered the stunning result, entitled Last Kiss, in a picture contest. The 28-year-old has since revealed that she had enjoyed a whirlwind romance with her boyfriend of five months before their arrest on August 15. ‘We had a crazy romance all summer,’ she told the New York Daily News. ‘It is like a movie.’ Police had swooped on the couple as Murphy allegedly tagged graffiti outside the Milk & Honey lounge in Manhattan’s Lower East Side just after midnight on August 16. ‘I was just the look-out,’ she insisted, adding that they snatched a kiss as they were led to the court as ‘we knew that we were going to be split up once we got to Central Booking’.”

Lucky gardener finds beautiful 200-year-old collection of silver in a pile of rubbish: “They say a pot of gold lies at the end of every rainbow – but finding a hoard of 200-year-old silver in a pile of rubbish has got to be almost as unlikely. That’s exactly what lucky gardener Chris Allen did when he decided to clear up litter dumped near his allotment in Derbyshire. While he was removing the plastic bags the bottom fell out of one to reveal a collection of high quality Georgian silverware worth hundreds of pounds. The haul included a 48-piece dinner service of dessert spoons, dessert forks, table forks, and serving spoons, as well as grape scissors, a mustard spoon a pearl-handled button hook and solid silver shoe horn. Honest Mr Allen, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, handed it all in to police as lost property back in March but it went unclaimed. He decided to auction the collection off. The items were sold off to collectors in different lots and the silver eventually made £530 at auction”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

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  1. […] The cab driver. Considering the previous post – an expression of love given to a stranger. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this.   […]


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