The Best Ride of All

Nurses General Nursing


Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. 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 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 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


"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 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.




Posted with love for you all:kiss


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