Stories of Kindness from Around the World

A Cab Ride I'll Never Forget

--by Terry, posted Oct 1, 2016
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.  One night I took a fare at 2:30 AM, when I arrived to collect, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once.
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 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s 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 knick-knacks 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 man," she said. 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 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. "Oh, there are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.  Our hug ended with her remark, "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy."  After a slight pause, she added, "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, and 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 to 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.
[ Original Story by Kent Nerburn ]
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Readers Comments

Indira wrote: The message seems to be to embrace each moment as it arrives with an open heart and mind, discarding all preconceived notions. What a privilege to have had this life changing experience! Kudos to you sir, for your generous and kind heart. Hope she experienced ease and peace, as a result of this ride through her memory lane. Thank you.
Sharad wrote: Wow. ! Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful story. Our best moments are indeed not the "instagrammable" ones, but those which just get etched forever on our psyche.
CFC wrote: I am deeply touched! Thank you for this an amazing story!
boblynn3 wrote: We never know when something we do can really touch another person in a profound way. This story demonstrates why we should look to do good deeds and not wait for people to ask us for help.
Mason wrote: I liked this a lot, i think everyone should be treated like this.
Elisa Pearmain wrote: Hi terry. This is such a beautiful and moving story. I am a bit confused though. You shared the story but say that it was written by kent nerburn. Do you think that it is actually a true story? Thanks
brooke wrote: This is off the chart beautiful. God bless you
bikekitty wrote: What a beautiful thing you did. Sometimes the most precious gift is time.
So glad to read this during this time of crazy, sad, challenging and depressing moments. You have made my day with this act of kindness!
miatagano wrote: So beautiful and moving. Thank you for sharing!
Ode2Joy wrote: This such a touching story of your kindness and big heart. God bless you for them both!

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