A cab driver’s unforgettable ride

Published 5:17 pm Thursday, April 23, 2020

Amazing things are happening today. We actually are seeing each other—almost as if for the first time—and we have boiled life down to the bare minimum. That’s a good thing. There’s a new spirit in us—a spirit that reminds me of a certain New York cab driver. 

The New York City cab driver pulled up for his last stop of the night in front of a nice house in an older New York neighborhood and honked his horn. No one came out, he sighed, got out and hurried to the door. He courteously took the lady by the arm and led her to the cab, then got her bag and put it in the trunk. When he got into the car, he looked back and asked the lady where she wanted to go. She handed him the address on a slip of paper, and said matter-of-factually, “I am going to the hospice building. The doctor says I don’t have long to live.”

The man grimaced, and started down the road toward her destination. Before he had gone very far, she spoke up again, politely. “Would you mind taking me downtown?” she asked.

As he got to an older part of the town, she asked him to slow down and began to show him different landmarks that had been important in her life.

 “Look there,” she said, and she showed the cab driver the little house where she was born – then, a block or two later pointed out an upstairs apartment where she and her husband had lived.

The driver smiled and reached down and turned off the meter. This trip would be on him. For two hours, the driver and the dying woman drove around her old neighborhood, taking in a lifetime of sights. After a while, the woman said, “I’m tired now, sir. You can take me to my home.”

The driver obliged, drove until he pulled up to an old red-brick building, and got out to help her out of the car. He led her by the elbow toward the front door until a nurse hurried out with a wheel chair to push her into the home. A young man grabbed her bag and took it inside. At the door, the woman looked up at the kind driver and asked what she owed him. He said, “nothing at all.”

“But you have to make a living,” she said.

“Yes,” he said, “but I will have many passengers. You have been much more than a passenger to me.”

He leaned down and—almost without thinking—gave her a hug, holding onto her several seconds before letting go. 

He smiled at her once more and walked slowly back to the cab, the lump in his throat returning again. He drove away, at a crawl, a different man than a few hours before. For two hours, he had given an old woman—her life condensed now to a few old memories—the last ride of her life. But she gave him something maybe even better. She gave him the ride of a lifetime.