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The Last Cab Ride

February 1, 2016

A staff member recently received this story from her friend. The author is anonymous, but the emotion is very real when you read it. This is a good reminder that every moment matters and you never know when or where you may be in a position to make a difference in someone’s life. Enjoy.

The Last Cab Ride
Author Unknown

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.

After waiting a few minutes I honked again.
Since this was going to be my last ride
of my shift I thought about just driving
away, but instead I put the cab in park and
walked up 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 90’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 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 nick 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 to be treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” 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 in a soft voice.
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 answered.

“You have to make a living,” she said.

“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, 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.

People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said,
but they will always remember how made them feel.

Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we are here we might as well dance.