A website out of the U.K., zenmoments.org, 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” (See Letters to My Son for an explanation) — 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.
I bring this up because I’d like to make you two offers — one big and one small. The small one first: If any of you would like to read the original piece, unmodified and in the context in which it was written, I would like to offer you the opportunity to buy a signed copy of Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living in the Spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis. It is one of my lesser known books, but one of my favorites. In it, I tried to write an extended meditation on each of the lines of Francis’ famous prayer and to illuminate them with stories from my life and the lives of others. The cab ride story is one of those.
The second offer — the big one — is made to all of you, but especially you readers in the U.K. I will be in the U.K. next spring. The exact dates are not yet set, but they will likely occur in April and early May. If you would like to have me come to speak to any group of yours, please contact me and we can try to make the arrangements. The same holds true for any group anywhere in America. I enjoy going out to speak because it allows me to meet my readers. It also allows me to share some of the stories and insights that my journey through life’s “blue moments” has offered.
So, thank you again for your continued interest in my work. I will keep trying to earn your trust by doing my best in everything I write. It is the least I can do to honor the faith you have shown in me.
30 thoughts on “The Cab Ride and an offer . . .”
I have never ever cried watching a movie or reading a book or anything like that. I’m a 21 year-old guy who’s not into that. But this story, as short and simple as it is, had me in tears, thinking about the loneliness some people have to endure. It really put some things in perspective for me. Truly amazing.
I have always received a great deal from the books you have written with a spiritual nature. I have them all and am eagerly waiting for more. Please let us know when/where you will be speaking in or near the Twin Cities. I would really like to hear you speak and meet you. Blessings.
Hi. I wanted to let Chuck and anyone else in the area know that Kent will be speaking in Mankato, MN at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato on Saturday, October 18th at 2 pm and on Sunday, October 19th at 10:30 am. On Saturday, he will be the keynote speaker at our workshop, “Forgiving Ourselves, Forgiving Others.” The following morning he will be speaking at our Sunday service. The title of his talk is, “A Ceremony of Healing: A glimpse inside the Native American way.”
For more info, see our web site: http://uumankato.org/index.php
I’ve always wanted an expression for those moments in life that are truly special in that way.
Blue Moments is a good expression for it. I think I will adopt that into my lexicon if you don’t mind.
I was in the National Guard and coming off some 30 days of an active duty training exercise. I had about 3 hours to kill in Des Moines before my bus ride home, but unfortunately the plane had come in about 1 in the morning, so there really wasn’t anything to do.
I took a cab from the airport to the bus station. While we were driving the cabbie said, “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.” I looked up to see a topless woman walking down the road median. The cabbie pulled over, asked if she was all right. Her boyfriend had kicked her out of his truck in that condition. She was walking home.
The cabbie asked if I minded if he gave her a ride. I didn’t, since I had time to kill. I pulled one of the OD green t-shirts from my bag for her. And we drove way the heck out of the way. I wasn’t worried about the fare, since I’d just been paid.
We got to her house, she asked for my address to send the shirt back, but I told her to not to bother since the postage would be more than the shirt was worth. The cabbie didn’t charge her.
He then took me to my destination and didn’t charge me either. He said he couldn’t take my money since he’d inconvenienced me. I tried to insist, he said he’d done a good deed and couldn’t take money for going a good deed.
This was in late 80’s. I was 18 or 19.
Thank you for sharing this extraordinary story. I had to stop crying before I could see the screen to write a comment.
It IS the small things we do for people that can make a real difference in their lives and in our own. I have tried to live by this credo all my life (I’m 66 yrs. old). It was instilled in me by my father.
Do we just order off the site your link takes us to?
Why was the woman leaving for the hospice at 2:30 in the morning? A hospice is not a hotel where you can check in at any time of the day or night. And usually people who are at the point where they require hospice care are in so much pain they can’t dress themselves and take a leisurely two hour cab ride. Even with no family left, a hospice worker certainly would’ve been at the woman’s house assisting her; that’s the point of hospice care, y’know?
I believe this link is now broken – any other way to get the piece? Dooce.com posted it on her site and though many people got to read it, the link went dead apparently. The responses are so amazing that I’m eager to read this piece!
I, too, am looking for a link to the story. ZenMoments has been replaced with a domain placeholder… so I’m guessing they went over their bandwidth usage and their provider shut them down. :/
I love the idea of “blue moments”. Mother Teresa once said, “The biggest problem in the world today is that we draw the circle of our family too small. We need to draw it larger every day.” Your story exemplified this perfectly.
To address the comment above, cabs are regularly called by hospitals on behalf of people who can’t drive themselves. Also, people who are ready for Hospice are not always in pain, or unable to travel. My mother was in no pain whatever when she was admitted to hospice. But these points take us far afield from the message within your story… which I thank you for.
Like the story – sums up a great connection made in unexpected circumstances. Touching to anyone with a heart.
I’m writing from Scotland and hope that you will be able to come north of the border on your trip to UK?
It is an extraordinarily moving story. Thank you for sharing.
In the 1980s hospice was very much like a “hotel”. You did check yourself in, especially on the east coast. Hospice has evolved over the years and many practices have changed. Don’t let that diminish this Blue Moment.
I felt the same way when I read the Cab Ride for the first time, I couldn’t hold back the tears, it just felt so real, like that could be my cab ride someday, will I get an impatient driver? Thank you for that moment, Kent 🙂
This is a beautifully written story of true karma. I feel even happier that it happened in my Twin Cities as I can visualize the the run. You are a special cabbie. I honor you.
It’s still circulating! I just read it today and cried. Really touching story, thanks for sharing!
Nice story and all but I have to wonder why she called for a cab at 2:30 in the morning. That doesn’t make sense. After 2 hours driving around, the sun started coming up? At 4:30 in the morning?
It’s ok to writing emotional stories to drive home a point but pay attention to detail, please.
I was under the impression that you cannot call in advance to reserve a cab in New York City…
The Cab ride is circulating on Facebook as a photo.
The story was about Minneapolis. It has morphed in the passage around the internet. When I was driving in Minneapolis, calling was the primary way of getting a cab.
The story was about my time driving cab in Minneapolis, where about the only way to get a cab outside the immediate downtown area was to call the dispatcher and have one sent.
You may be right. The story was done from memory. I may have gotten the time sequence wrong.
What you wrote goes to the core, and some want to be distracted from that core. They should not and do not detract from the beauty of the experience: Nameste!
Was the story based in NYC…OR…Minneapolis..???
Well whatever the details, the story was really touching. Makes me want to be a better person.
Depuis de nombreuses années, je cherche sur la toile un procédé
simple d’obtenir des gains journaliers, sans être obligé de parrainer quiconque pour faire du fric. ProfitClicking est très sérieux car il rémunère un max !!!
I like how the people at Snopes.com have graded this story as “legend”. It is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of writing I have read in a while; truly legendary.
I have no doubt that the story did in fact occur, but this is a classic example of how our modern mindset interferes with what might be “just” a beautiful myth.
The “truth” of this story is irrelevant to its message. An old, lonely woman is given the chance to relive her life and while we are given no indication, it is clear that her memories and joy are as definite as her impending death.
We are invited into her world, but forced to populate it with our own vivid imaginings, but at the same time we are given a glimpse into the mind of the Driver, who understands that he has just experienced something incredible, but unable to know anything more than he just facilitated something beautiful.
So much of life is like this. At some point in our Eternity, we will be both driver and passenger and if we all understand the fundamental implications of this fact, our species will achieve heights undreamed of.
Snopes has it as legend? Well, I lived it and know it was true. Such is the way of the internet.
zenmoments appears to be up again: