27 August 2014

A Taxicab Confession

I had to do a same day turn to Tampa today for a meeting. The timing, admittedly, was a little tight, as is usually the case with same day turns, and of course, it went south.

One of the keys to a succesful turn is starting with the first flight o'the day, which is precisely what I did.  It took just one thing to foul it up. Today's one thing: a third flight attendant going M-I-A. The airline's solution was to ship some poor soul out of the ready reserve swamp at JFK to work our flight. We departed 80 minutes late and I was now going to be heinously late for my meeting. 

Upon arrival, I bolted for the taxi conga line and upon jumping into the cab, I said something normally reserved for poorly written cinematic histrionics or the finale of 'The Amazing Race,' "Step on it! I need to get (there) fast!" I should point out my cab driver was a 70 year old man. How do I know? He told me. He told me plenty actually. Before I knew it, the cab became a confessional.

Back in October 2011 (see 10/14/11 post), I wrote about an insightful experience with a cab driver in my beloved Chicago. That experience reminded me of the importance of treating everyone with a bit of dignity and respect. I needed every ounce of that lesson today. When I gave the driver the address of my meeting, he said he'd taken a fare there the day before and with that, he was off to the chatty races. After telling me he was 70 and had lived in Flo-ri-da for more than forty years, he mentioned that he was having surgery on his nose for skin cancer in a few days and that he was pretty nervous about the pain and how he might look. I mentioned that my mother had had similar surgeries and done great and that I was sure he'd be fine. We talked about the marvels of modern medicine and he noted how amazed he was when his appendix was removed through his navel down at the VA. Then things got gross. Why? He told me what his next procedure was going to be with the good people at the VA - a penile implant (never in a million years did I think those words would darken the pages of the Den). He said, without a hint of irony, "I'll be a happier man after that one." What do you say to that?

Here's what I said, "Oh look, we're here," because we had just arrived. I'm quite certain he was going to delve into the particulars of his upcoming 'procedure.' I was not prepared to hear about it. I chuckled as I got out of the cab, wondering how I get into situations like this. Is there something in me that tells people, 'Hey, set this guy up!' I seem to have a propensity to find myself in odd little predicaments like this. And I don't know why. This much I do know - he wins my award for Best Confessional from a Cabbie that I've ever heard.

Well done, sir, well done.

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