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 car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. ‘Please come in’, answered a frail, elderly voice.
A small woman in her 90’s sat in a wheelchair. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman in a wheelchair.
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 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 hugged her, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I drove aimlessly lost in thought. 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?
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.
These random acts of kindness restore our faith in humanity. It is in sharp contrast with what is happening around us — people dying in terrorist attacks or genocide by Dictatorial Regimes. It happened in Nazi Germany during the Second World War when millions of Jews were tortured and killed. The Nazis believed Jews were inferior human beings and did not deserve to live.
There is a similar kind of evil on this planet which goes on in China today. The Chinese communist government is systematically torturing and killing innocent men and women who are followers of a spiritual exercise and meditation practice called Falun Gong. Since the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance does not go well with the government’s ideologies, people are forced to give up their faith and if they don’t, they are killed.
And hold on, the shocking thing is their organs are extracted and put up in the black market for sale. Whereas, in the rest of the world you have to wait for an organ transplant, in China you can get it in less than a week. Can you imagine one human being inflicting so much pain on a fellow human being?
Courtesy: Story credited to Kent Neburn