arrived at the address and honked the horn. After
waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and
knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly
voice. I could hear something being dragged across the
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. 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 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 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
'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 squeezed her hand, and then walked
into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. 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. People
may not remember exactly what you did, or what you
said, but they will always remember how you made them
You won't get any big surprise in 10 days if you send
this to ten people. But, you might help make the world a
little kinder and more compassionate by sending it on
and reminding us that often it is the random acts of
kindness that most benefit all of us.
Thank you, my friends...