The last cab ride

by Stephen on November 20, 2009 · 105 comments

in Life, Moral Stories

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One time I arrived in the middle of the night for a pick up at a building that was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked 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 80’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 1940s 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, 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. “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 purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers.”

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, 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.

A true story by Kent Nerburn

If you find this story useful, please share with a friend!

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carib December 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

Thats nice, in life its the simple things that we take for granted that often can make people happy.
I love that story it hit home.
Always remember is nice to be imprtant, but its more important to be nice.

2 KAMRAN December 30, 2009 at 7:11 am

It was a wonderful story.. really heart touching because that cab driver gave his one night to the lady’s last night. It didn’t make any difference to his life but that lady lived her life again in that last drive.

3 Ann D"Monte India January 5, 2010 at 2:21 am

That was a great deed I would have done the same & wish to tell all other drivers to be patient ,kind & ready to go the second mile. Don’t honk & go away.no old person can jump up & run to the door ,it will take at least 4 or 5 honks before they can reach the door so wait or better still go qut & help.

4 Deb Thomas January 8, 2010 at 4:51 am

I think all of us are given opportunities such as this in life…a chance to learn a profound life-altering lesson from what we might choose to let pass as an insignificant moment. It is about being present, aware, and making a choice to open oneself to the wisdom the Universe lays on our doorstep.

5 Heather A January 12, 2010 at 3:25 am

ahh…what a great story, one that I will remember and hold in my heart. Thank you Kent for sharing. It is nice to know that there are people like you out there.

6 Maureen, Wisconsin January 12, 2010 at 6:55 am

Thank you for your story. Not every story has to have a monetary reward for the reader to feel some catharsis in the heart. Life demands that we reach out especially to the elderly and poor simply because they will always be with us, and it is our moral duty.
Thanks again for your wonderful story.

7 NVT January 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Wonderful story! My late father was a hardworking cab driver. He was/is my hero. I absolutely love your last line!

8 Avril Birdsturgeon April 22, 2010 at 8:07 am

Patience and the joy of giving are great virtues. May more people see the beauty of sharing some precious moments of their time with someone who needs the grasp of a friendly hand or a warm and beautiful smile. It makes the world a wonderful place to be in. God Bless you!

9 Peta April 28, 2010 at 1:06 am

Thanks for your story, it really made my day.

10 Farha May 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm

It’s really very amazing… I liked it very much….!

11 TaylorFAN_celeste June 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

Awwww…it was a totally nice story..very inspiring… :'( I’m really touched.

12 Cazza August 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm

That was such a beautiful story, people like you deserve to be recognized in this world. the nice lady would of felt so warm and fuzzled inside, thank you very much for sharing that story :)

13 Anuj Banka August 14, 2010 at 12:47 am

Thanks for giving a nice story teaching us in life a little movement can bring a lesson.

14 Paul Peters August 24, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I’m still staring into space; lost in thought, humbled by the lessons in the story and moved to similar disposition.

15 Lili November 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm

The most beautiful inspiratinal story God bless u

16 Stephen December 21, 2010 at 8:41 am

Hi Cida,

The author of this story is Kent Nerburn, his website: http://kentnerburn.com
This story originally appeared in his book: Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.

In this blog post on his blog, you can find his thoughts when this story started circulating around the internet: http://kentnerburn.com/archives/304

17 Cida Alves December 21, 2010 at 8:14 am

Dear all, this story has been translated to Portuguese and here in Brazil many people say this story is theirs or took place somewhere in their town, bla, bla, bla.
Does anyone know exactly who is the real author of this story? It is a very nice and blessing story but I would like to be able to say this to some people who brag about themselves using this story.
Thanks and God bless you all.

18 Glenn Miller December 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I wonder through all these stories that people read and comment on makes a difference in their lives after reading such than before?

19 Chris February 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

May your tribe increase Kent! I salute you! =)

20 Saras February 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm

All stories are wonderful and like very much. Hats off to writers. Good website for stories’ lover.

21 Lusi February 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

so inspiring… two thumbs for you man!

22 Jen February 28, 2011 at 2:37 am

It’s a very touching story it made me cry,really. It reminds me of my grandma who passed away 1 year ago. :(

23 Raghu R February 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Wonderful story.

24 shilpa goel March 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

heart touching………taking out time for unknown elderly in todays time is marvellous

25 arnesbury Taxi Cab March 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Wonderful story, its a great feeling to make someone happy, there are few moments in life which we can never forget.

26 Seshu March 16, 2011 at 4:27 am

MInd blowing, really very touching line………

27 Loran March 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm

What an amazing and inspirational story – we just do not know the impact that our kindness will bring, do we? Please think on and recognise every opportunity to be kind and show kindness, if we all do the same-the world will be an amazing place!

28 ver_kris May 8, 2011 at 6:58 am

Soo touching story.. I paused for a moment after I read this.. I admire you Kent.. thanks for a heart warming experience shared to us..

29 k.rengma May 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

its a good moral story. money is not everything in life. thank you so much.

30 Eshaani Patel May 14, 2011 at 12:54 am

a very nice story =)

31 roonham May 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

this is a very good moral story… it shows that you may have a life full of happiness but to give moments of joy to someone elderly can be a very gratifying feeling. also, that money isn’t everything in life…. sometimes wat you do for sumone else and get their blessings— well that could be great reward. so help people and please dont always look for something in return because something unknown to you could be given to you as a reward in the face of a blessing.

32 shray May 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

Oh great story. Keep it up, you will surely become a millionaire in your next life. You are great. You have a good heart and may God bless you.

33 rohit June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for the wonderful story. I would try to be a better person from this day…

34 Rajkamal June 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Wonderfull !

35 Aroonkumar June 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I felt very light when I read this story. I’ll make myself and others to follow the same as this person, the driver.

36 Jenifer September 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

The thought of that woman’s life almost gone, it’s inchanting hearing how she spent most of it and while you read this story you can’t help but feel like life is so short. Think about how you spent your life. Did you do something special or live your life well before it passed you by. Stop slow down, breath and live a life worth living.

37 Lorenzo September 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

It was a great story I didn’t know what it was about until now its sad.. :(

38 Jgangmei October 8, 2011 at 6:10 am

I love this story thanks kent it inspire me a lot, in the end kindness rocks, cheers….

39 Manas October 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

heart touching,…………..you know I am crying right now

40 Akarsh November 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

WoW. Great. Million thanks 2 the cab driver for his patience and courtesy. We must imbibe these qualities in our life. We are human beings so love must be the important ingredient of our life.

A nice moral indeed for all of us to follow. Thanks for creating such a motivational website.

41 philip November 7, 2011 at 6:24 am

great story..

42 Hinata November 17, 2011 at 1:11 am

It was a wonderful story, it was so touching.
it turned me speechless….
I just could say, wonderful story…

43 Amelia November 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Hi, I am copying this story to write for an exam of my life.

44 Angshuman December 20, 2011 at 4:39 am

Really good. Hope we all can do the same thing what the cab driver did.

45 Gill February 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

Beautiful story.. I’m just speechless!!!

46 Dikchen March 4, 2012 at 2:11 am

It has always motivated me to do better.

47 Neesh March 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Really heart touching…

48 Arvind March 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

awesome…..

49 Sadik March 22, 2012 at 5:06 am

Really nice……….. I like it very much…

50 Anna March 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Attitude matters… Money can’t buy anything.

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