Note: This article was culled from a LinkedIn post and it has been slightly edited for the benefit of our audience. The original author has not been ascertained.
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the 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.. ‘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 90’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 1940’s movie.
The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’
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 to be treated.’
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.’
‘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.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow down 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.
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.’
Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
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?
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares –beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.