The Last Cab Ride

Morning Story and Dilbert

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One time I arrived in the middle of the night for a pick up at a building that 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 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.

“There are other passengers.”

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 shuts. 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.

Author –   Kent Nerburn

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38 comments
  1. ronkeh7 said:

    Great story. Make no mistake, these two people meeting was no mere coincidence. It was no chance encounter. On a higher level the cab driver and the old lady know each other and on that level they agreed to manifest this event on earth in order to fulfil an important learning experience and bring it to a close, with both appreciating in their own way what an extraordinary adventure life on earth is! And thank you for signing up to follow my blog!

  2. tuesday2 said:

    Thank you for the reminder to ‘simply be kind.’ That is why we are here.

  3. Hi Kenny, I really enjoyed what I read on your blog. This is a truly touching story! There is a moving poem called “An Old Lady’s Poem”. From what I read, it was found among an elderly lady’s possessions after she died. This story put me in mind of it. You would like it. Thank you for the like on my blog frommyheart2u.

  4. It makes me wonder upon how many times I have just honked the horn, and moved on.

  5. You know what this is mighty awesome, and a credit to your attitude.
    Love to you in CHRIST.
    .

  6. LolaA said:

    Brought tears to my eyes, I say thank you on her behalf :)

  7. Loved it! Powerful.Thanks for a call back to what really matters.

  8. Powerful story you got here. I really felt for the older women and found myself imagining her trip through the city vividly. Thanks for sharing :)

  9. kiwiskan said:

    Thank God she got the right driver…

  10. These small moments … thankfully, they didn’t go by unnoticed. Beautiful story.

  11. “Great moments catch us unaware.” — I like this.
    This story validates my recent choice to simplify most things in my life and spend my time loving. That is living.

  12. shofar said:

    I am at a loss for words; that story touched my heart! Thank you for sharing it!

  13. My eyes “welled up” with water while reading. Amazing, simply amazing, you are such a blessing with these wonderful life lessons you present us with!

  14. Will and Eko said:

    As always, the comic was good for a laugh and the story was good for a smile. Great combo

  15. Thats how we should always treat each another. If we did that what a different world it would be.
    Love and Light
    Peter

    • Hey Peter, I agree with you completely and if each of us can do a kind unexpected deed everyday, what a difference it could make. It starts with US!!!! Thanks for stopping by. Take Care and God Bless :-) Kenny T

  16. snowgood said:

    Another stellar post! Can’t think why we get so wrapped in stuff rather than emotion. This is priceless.

  17. Kenny, wonderful and touching story! thanks for sharing as always.
    God Bless, Nick

  18. Your blog makes me want to write one of my own about my friend and next door neighbor Victoria. When I read the sentence about I don’t have any family left and I don’t have very long, that could have been her. I think of the last time she left her home before being placed in the back of the ambulence because she knew this time she would not be coming back. She said my name and began to weep. We did get to visit numerous times in those last 9 days before she passed from this cold, cruel world to glory. I can’t wait to join her and all my other friends and family that have gone one before me.

    • Hey Po’Girl, Thanks for sharing this about your neighbor. And thanks for stopping by!!!! Take Care and God Bless :-) Kenny T

  19. What a beautiful Story. I was teary eyed and enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you for sharing :)

  20. Kenny,
    Thanks for following my blog for awhile. I am sooo glad I signed up for your posts. I was especially blessed by today’s story. My husband is now 73, heading for 80 and I’m not far behind him…69…my parents are both gone, as well as a brother and I know they will greet me in heaven one day. Right now I look at my bonus years and praise God for the strength, grace, and health He gives me. Day by day, my thanksgiving list grows. Your story warmed my heart. Keep those cartoons and good news storys coming. The world needs to hear them. God bless you today…thanking you for blessing others.

    • Hey Glenda, I’m so glad you are enjoying the Morning Story and Dilbert!!!! Thanks for sharing this brief testimony it has Blessed my heart!!! Take Care and God Bless :-) Kenny T

  21. My pastor actually told that story in church one Sunday…..nice to see it shared again.

  22. That Dilbert, hahahaha! Thanks for the laugh first thing this morning :) (I’ve read the story before.)

  23. One simple act of kindness. A few moments of a day. Two lives changed forever. Thank you, Kenny, for another great story to start my day. I’m addicted to your post! Thank you for reading my blog, too. Connie

  24. I don’t know how long that lady had left but I’m sure the cabbie’s kindness accompanied her all the way to heaven.

    If we could ll do one such thing in our life how much happier place this world would be.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Thanks for your comment. If we all could just take a moment out of each day to Bless someone. (Oh this brings a tear to my heart!!!!) Sometimes a Blessing is as simple as a Smile or a Hello…… Plus giving a Blessing away makes me feel good. When I’m feeling a little down in my spirit, I look for something unexpected to do for someone, and I just feel better. Take Care and God Bless :-) Kenny T

  25. I know the coffee scale doesn’t go to ten, but this story does!! In my opinion, it’s the best one yet. Keep ‘em coming, Kenny T! Have a great day. :)

  26. A very strong story. This could have easily been a missed opportunity but it was met with such reverence and should be echoed in our daily lives. Who was the giver and who received? Hmmm. If we are always willing to give, we shall receive…

    I have a good friend who works in hospice and shares some of the most heartwrenching stories lots of times about family who don’t show any care or concern for the family member. Those without family sometimes have better family than those who do. She fills a gap and void along with her required duties because she was God appointed. Sorry…but this just exhibits so much compassion we should all be willing to share. Take care!

    • I look forward to your comments and absolutely love your About page….. Take Care and God Bless :-) Kenny T

  27. James said:

    That was wonderful. Thank you.

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