Life as a taxi driver in New York City is full of unusual and interesting experiences. In the city that never sleeps, yellow taxis cruise the streets transporting passengers from one place to another.
One day, a taxi driver picked up an elderly woman who asked him to take her to a very unusual address. Even as a taxi driver, it was the ride of his life, and something that he just had to share. I'm not 100 percent sure this story really happened, but either way, it moved me to tears.
Here is his story:
I was called to an address. I honked my horn when I arrived like I always do, but nobody came out. I honked again but still no one came. I got a bit impatient — it was my last call of the day, and I was almost ready to give up and drive away. For some reason I decided to stay, and when I rang the doorbell, I heard an old, frail voice say, "Just a moment, please."
It took a while for the door to open, and when it did, it revealed a small old woman standing there. She must have been at least 90 years old, and she was holding a small suitcase in her hand.
With the door open, I could see into the apartment and was shocked. It looked like no one had lived there for a very long time. There were sheets covering all of the furniture and the walls were completely bare: no clocks, no pictures, nothing. The only thing I saw was a box full of photos and mementos tucked into the corner.
Finally, the old woman spoke, asking, "Please, young man, can you carry my suitcase to the car?"
I took the case and loaded it into the trunk. Then I went back to the door, took the lady by the arm, and escorted her slowly to the car. She thanked me for being so helpful. I told her it was no trouble at all, saying, "I treat all of my guests the same way I would treat my mother."
The woman smiled and said, "Oh, you are so nice."
She got into my taxi, gave me the address she wanted to go to and asked me to drive through the city center.
"That's not really the shortest route," I advised her. "It's actually a huge detour."
"That's fine with me," she replied. "I'm not in an hurry; I'm on my way to a hospice."
I was a bit startled when I heard her say this, thinking to myself. "A hospice is a place where people go to die."
"I'm not leaving any family behind," said the woman softly, "and the doctor said I don't have much time left."
At that point, I shut off the meter. I asked her, "Which way would you like me to go?"
We spent the next two hours just driving around the city to all sorts of different places. She showed me the hotel where she had worked as a receptionist. She showed me the house where she and her late husband had lived when they were a young couple and the dance studio she had gone to as a young girl.
On some streets, she asked me to drive very slowly, and she stared out the window like a curious child without saying a word. We drove all through the night until the old woman finally said, "I'm tired. We can go to my destination now."
Neither of us spoke as I drove to the address she had given me.
The hospice was smaller than I had imagined it. When we pulled into the driveway, two nurses came out to greet us. They helped the woman into a wheelchair and I carried her suitcase.
"How much do I owe you for the fare?" she asked as she opened her purse.
"Nothing," I replied.
"But you have to earn a living," she said.
I smiled and told her, "There are other passengers."
Without stopping to think, I gave her a big hug and she held me tightly.
"You've made an old woman very happy while she took her final steps. Thank you," she said as her eyes began to fill with tears.
I shook her hand in farewell and left.
Even though my next shift had already started, I found myself driving aimlessly through the city. I didn't want to see or talk to anyone. What would have happened if I hadn't taken that fare? What would have happened if I had given up and driven away after honking the first time?
When I think back on that night, I truly believe that it was one of the most important things I've ever done in my life. In our hectic lives we always focus so much on the big, impressive moments. Bigger, faster, further. But I think it's really the quieter moments and the small gestures that really count. We should take time to enjoy these. We should be patient and wait a while before we start honking our horns. Maybe then we'll see what really matters.
This story was a real eye opener for me. We need to realize what's really important in life and enjoy all of the wonderful little moments. Because you never know when it will be too late.
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