Tuesday, January 26, 2016
I Didn't Even Get Her Name
Since my wife and I are spending most weekends relaxing at the lake these days in our “old age” (and not apologizing for it), we miss many Sundays at our home church. This past weekend we were home. I continue to be amazed at how many people gather on Sundays at Southside Church in Warner Robins, GA. Without knowing the number exactly, I would say it is less that 5,000 but I think way more than 3,000.
Anyway I was glad I was there Sunday. Not only did I get to see some folks I haven’t seen lately, I heard a sermon that I was still thinking about this afternoon in a cab in Knoxville TN.
Cab rides and Uber rides are sort of normal for me. I travel for a living and many times find myself in a car with a stranger driving me.
Today was no different.
I walked out of McGhee Tyson Airport late this afternoon and got in the first cab available. I couldn’t help but notice the young female driving this cab was not your typical cab driver. She seemed a little nervous and I suspected a little new on the job.
Turns out she was a transplant from Hamilton, Ohio. Since I used to go to Hamilton fairly often on business and know a funeral home there, it was easy to strike up a conversation. Before I knew it, I learned she had recently broken up with her long-time boyfriend, she missed her parents in Ohio, at one time she went 2 ½ years without seeing them, she has a sister in Ohio and she decided to go see them at Christmas even though she really couldn’t afford it.
I also found out her friend owns the cab we were riding in and the owner treats her really well as a part-time driver. She gets half the fares and the owner reimburses her for gas she puts in the car. Some days she can take in as much as $200 but other days it may be only $20. I learned that holidays are not the best time for cab drivers and she picked the worse time three months ago to go into the cab business. Many people travel during the holidays but their families or loved ones pick most of them up when they come for a visit.
I also learned that she was going to hang it up for the day after she dropped me off because she was attending a study group tonight. She had graduated from Massage Therapy School but had not taken the boards yet because of the $500 cost and she wants to make sure she passes it the first time.
Not bad conversation for a 15 minute cab ride.
But what I haven’t mentioned yet is what she told me when I first got in the cab when I asked her that simple, mundane question: “How has your day been?”
Her response caused that sermon that I have been mulling over since Sunday come to the front of my mind again.
She told me it was not a good day because earlier she had a passenger who didn’t pay. And it was a large fare - $63 she painfully explained. It was obvious the $63 dollars was eating at her. I strongly suspect it was eating at her a lot.
So I thought about the sermon on “Generosity” I heard a few days earlier and as I asked her a “million” questions during our 15 minutes together, I began to realize that this cab ride was not an accident nor was the sermon I heard on Sunday from my Pastor and friend, Jerry Walls.
This young lady needed me and I needed her.
As she pulled the cab in front of the hotel, I asked her what I owed her. “Thirty dollars and eighty cents,” she quickly said. I gave her my credit card and tipped her well.
Then I gave her my card again.
I asked her to run the card again for $63. She was obviously stunned and quickly said I cannot let you do that. I said I wanted to do it and to please run the card and she very reluctantly did so. I also tipped her well for the jerk who had stolen the $63 dollar ride from her. I heard her say very softly and almost under her breath as she was running the second card, “I will never forget this.”
I was thinking, neither will I……and I will write about it to make sure I never forget it.
When I got out of the car and made my way around to the back, I saw her tears. I’m sure she saw mine.
I’m not sure what the Bellhops thought when they saw us do a little quick awkward hug. Nor do I care, by the way.
After dinner tonight, I discovered the young lady lied to me about the $63 dollar ride. The charge on my card before the tip was actually $62.60.
That just validated for me that God orchestrated our fifteen minutes together. No way was this young lady going to steal even 40 cents from me.
I will admit – of all the cab rides I’ve taken in my life, today was the first time I have ever hugged the driver.
And I didn’t even get her name.