FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: The cab driver’s unforgettable ride
Good week to all. Welcome to the “front porch.”
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. Read on.
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, so he thought of pulling away and ending his night’s work – but, instead, he sighed, got out, and hurried to the door. He knocked loudly, and an older woman opened the door, her canvas bag lying on the floor beside her.
Looking inside the house, he could see the house appeared not to have been lived in for a long time. The furniture was covered with sheets, the clocks had all been taken off of the walls, and the pictures had been boxed up and stacked in a corner.
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-factly, “I am going to the hospice building. The doctor says I don’t have long to live.”
The man grimaced, feeling bad for his earlier impatience, 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.
“No, I wouldn’t mind,” he said, surprised at the lump suddenly in his throat, “but it is out of the way.
“That’s okay,” she said, “I’d really appreciate it if you would do that for me.”
He nodded and detoured toward the downtown area. 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 when they were newlyweds.
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.
“There’s the ballroom where my husband and I once danced late into the night,” she said at one old building that had a huge picture-glass window in the front, and through his rearview mirror he could see an unmistakable sparkle in her eyes.
On and on she pointed out the landmarks: There was a building at which she had worked for many years as a seamstress, then an old store she used to go into to buy candy when she was just a girl, and a vacant field where she and her friends had chased each other almost every day. One by one, she laid out the scenes of her life.
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. “Oh, nothing,” 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. No charge tonight.”
He leaned down and – almost without thinking – gave her a hug, holding onto her several seconds before letting go. She reached up and grabbed his hand, squeezed it, and said, “Sir, you have made an old lady happy tonight. Thank you.”
He smiled at her once more and walked slowly back to the cab, the lump in his throat returning again. The nurse pushed her into her new home and closed the door behind her. He heard the door shut and took one final look back at her new old red-brick home.
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.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email coachbowen1984@ gmail.com or call or text 972-824-5197.