Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Taxi

I arrived at the address where someone had requested a taxi. I 'honked' but there was no response. I 'honked' again - nothing. Slightly annoyed I then walked to the door and knocked.

From the other side a frail voice responded..."just a moment".

I could hear something being dragged towards the door. After a pause the door opened. A small woman, easily in her nineties, stood before me smartly attired in a print dress and veiled pill box hat. She looked right out of a movie from the 1940's.

At her side was a small vinyl suitcase. The apartment looked sparse. White sheets draped the few pieces of remaining furniture. In the corner sat a single cardboard box brimming with framed photos and nic nacs.

"Would you carry my bag to the car", she said.

I took the small suitcase and stowed it in the trunk then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we made our way slowly to the curb...all the while she kept thanking me.

"It's nothing"... I told her. "I try to treat all my passengers the way I'd hope someone would treat my mother."

"Oh, you're such a good boy", she commented.

Once settled into the taxi she gave me an address and said..."could we drive through downtown?"

"It won't be the fastest way", I answered.

"Oh, I don't mind, I'm in no hurry...I'm on my way to a hospice."

I glanced in the rear-view mirror in time to see her eyes glisten over.

"I don't have anyone left... and the doctor has told me I haven't much longer."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

I then turned in my seat and softly asked ..."What route would you like me to take?"

For the next several hours we drove through the city. She pointed out the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. Then on to a neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as newlyweds, their first home together.

She had me pull up in front of a large sports outlet store that had once been an arena where she had gone dancing as a young girl.

At specific corners and landmarks she would ask me to "slow" as she stared silently into the night.

When the first hint of daybreak arrived she said, "I'm tired, we can go now."

We then drove in silence to the address she had provided. It was a small building. A large overhang covered the driveway. It seemed more like a convalescent home.

As I pulled to a stop two orderlies immediately approached from within to gather the woman. They were obviously expecting her. I retrieved her case from the trunk and carried it inside the main door. She was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?", asking as she reached into her purse.

"Nothing", I said. To which she replied, "You have to make a living."

"There will be other fares", I responded and then without thinking I bent down and gave her a hug. Her frail arms wrapped me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy", she said..." thank you."

I squeezed her hand before walking out towards the new day. Behind me the 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 the day I could hardly talk. What if the woman had gotten an angry driver...or someone impatient to end their shift? What if I had 'honked' only once...then driven away?

As I replayed the events in my mind I came to the conclusion that... I don't think I have ever done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think our lives revolve around great big moments. But the reality is 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.

"The above was forwarded to me and I felt it worth sharing."

P.S. Thank you Carol


The_Gnarled_Branch said...

that was a great read

Skodaman said...

Many thanks go out to Carol for that one...and thanks for taking the time to comment.