“Free” Ride

Another true story. I used to drive a taxi years ago. Once a lady called for a taxi, but when I showed up she told me she didn’t have any money and asked for a free ride?!?!

Don’t ever make this a practice! Taxi drivers pay for their own gas and are not hourly. They only get paid from the money you give them. I was so irritated! Not only did she waste my time and gas, but now she wanted a free trip?!?! The gall!

But something IN me told me she was desperate and this wasn’t about me. One of the few times I put my ego aside; I asked her what was going on. I don’t remember any details now except I was worried enough about her mental health to wonder if she was suicidal.

But I didn’t baby her. I wanted to respect her without feeding energy into her hopelessness. And I still needed to maintain control of my space. So… I sternly told her that I would give her a free ride ONLY if she told me the WHOLE time we drove what she was thankful for.

I think she reacted by indicating that was going to be impossible. I nonchalantly called her bluff and said something to the effect of ok, well you’re turning down a free ride. She was desperate enough; she decided she could figure out a few things to be thankful for. So I let her in the taxi and we started driving. I had to help her by giving her a few ideas, but she stuck to the plan and started listing things she was thankful for, one after the other, for several miles.

I remember we were on Interstate 10 between downtown and 410 when she told me she couldn’t think of ANYTHING else to be thankful for. I said something like, “Are you sure?” And she assured me. So I said something like, “Well ok, but that means I’ll have to pull over at this next exit and let you out.” Called her bluff and started switching lanes to exit. “No, no, no, no, no!!! Ok. Ok. Ok.” And she found a few more things to be thankful for until we made it to her desired destination. 😊 I let her out and thought that was that.

BUT fast-forward to my birthday probably a few months later. One of my friends had made me strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing and rainbow colored sprinkles (my birthday favorite, btw). I brought them in the taxi with me and decided to share them with people as I saw fit. Gave a few to some young soldiers.

But then I’m downtown rolling through the packed tourist district around the Riverwalk. With my window down. And this lady runs up to my vehicle in the middle of hundreds of people and dozens of cars on the street, in the dark. She tells her friend with her: “This is the lady I was telling you about! This is the taxi driver!”

It was the same lady I gave the free ride to. Out of so many things going on, somehow she noticed me, and she ran over to show me to her friend. She looked happy. I felt such a full heart from that. She looked so much better.

Sometimes you never know what happens, but it felt like a birthday present from Above to be able to see that she made it. Sometimes the encouragers need encouragement also. 🙂

I shared my cupcakes with her and her friend right there in the street while waiting for the light to turn from red. Pretty surreal moment. Pretty cool experience. Felt so alive. Like life turned up to the maximum volume.