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The Cab Ride

Glurge:   A cab driver takes an elderly woman on her last ride to a hospice.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2012]

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a gamblers life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement, and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.

What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, the car became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total darkness and anonymity, and tell me of their lives.

We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day.

In those hours, I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh, and made me weep. And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.

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Origins:   This piece about a cab driver's giving an elderly woman a ride to a hospice has been reprinted in a number of books and widely circulated on the Internet since 1999, typically without attribution and under varying titles such as "The Cab Ride," "The Cab Driver," and "The Taxi Driver."

This piece was penned by author Kent Nerburn and was originally published under the title "And where there is sadness, joy" in his 1999 book, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.

In 2008, Kent Nerburn posted an entry on his blog in response to the Internet-prompted popularity of this item:
A website out of the U.K. has recently posted the now well-traveled story of my experience as a cab driver, when I picked up an old woman who was on her way to a hospice. It has reached number one on a number of websites as a result.

I am thrilled when my ordinary life offers up an extraordinary moment that brings some solace or insight or enjoyment to others, and such has been the good fortune of that moment in the late 1980’s when I was driving the “dog shift” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What is noteworthy about that moment, beyond it’s poignancy, is that I did not create it; I merely experienced it and let it unfold.

Life gives us all such moments — I call them “Blue Moments” — where a brilliant light shines through the ordinary moments in our ordinary days. They come unsolicited and unannounced, and provide us the gift of significance and, if we are lucky, the opportunity to serve.

What it is important is to remember that these ARE gifts, and that we cannot receive them if we are not open to them. We need to listen closely, watch closely, and take care not to rush past or through them when they arrive. They are the fabric of our lives, and they will weave themselves with complexity and beauty if we give them time to do so.

Last updated:   14 March 2015

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