A must read

“The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget” by Kent Nerburn

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

The last three paragraphs just about killed me. If you read only one thing this week let it be this.

Opening comments because this might spark some discussion.

(via MeFi)

  • Haley

    Beautiful, Beautiful story a very touching story and also very sad as the end of life is no matter who and no matter what the circumstances. No tears from me tough since I am one of those who thinks things happen for a reason that taxi driver was the one who received that call that night because it was something that was meant to be, that is something I am sure of! He helped a women who lived a full life get a little closure before her time was up, that is fantastic I hope everyone can have experience something so great in their lifetime! august

  • katbron

    We should all aspire to be so kind. That is our purpose. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story.

  • http://www.camacho.tv laura Camacho

    Thanks for this. Loved it.

  • http://utroukx.blogspot.com/ kerry

    that was beautiful. nice to be reminded that there is some kindness and humanity left in the world.

  • http://kristanhoffman.com/ Kristan

    I started crying as soon as he said he turned off the meter.

    I think I’m that kind of person. I hope I am. And I hope I’m not alone.

    Thanks for passing this along.

  • http://lefteyephotography.blogspot.com maura

    sad yet a nice reminder of my nana – thanks for sharing.

  • Troy

    I have read this authors books. He is a very blessed man and his book Neither Wolf Nor Dog was a real eye opener for me. Nothing in this world is an accident.

  • http://www.smithasylum.com/ Carolyn

    “We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.”

    My most important moment was holding my infant son, Brendan, as he died. It was so quiet. There was no struggling. There was no pain. And I didn’t cry then because I wanted his last moments to be those of comfort and peace and love. I hope he felt that.

    Holding him for those minutes was absolutely the most important thing I have ever done, and quite possibly is the most important thing that I ever will do. And as painful as it was I wouldn’t give those moments up for anything.

  • anne c.

    thanks for sharing this, heather. my fiance’s sister and husband run a medical and other transport service for the elderly in our area (not just med appointments, but anywhere they need to go), and i’m sending them this link. they have a marvelous time with their company and the elderly company they keep, and will like this story. … a really nice feel good story for a monday, that’s for sure.

  • Anonymous

    tears. thanks for something so real and touching in a time of such ugliness.

  • jen

    Ive read that before but it touched me more this time around. I lost my grandmother last week. The last year of her life was spent with hospice. I think about how she was before she went into the nursing home, and its almost like she stopped living when she walked (with her walker) through those doors.

  • http://thewisdomofadistractedmind.blogspot.com/ Dan

    I thought it was an okay story with a fantastic message. However, I would have loved to have seen more detail in the story. I mean, the narrator sets it up with this notion of his cab as a confessional, then the woman remains silent throughout the cab ride only pointing out that this place is special and that place is special, but she gives no dialogue of her own to explain why these places are special or what, if any, memories she has of those old places.

    Ah well… It was nice, but it needs more.

    Sorry for being so cold.

  • Lesley

    Oof. That gave me the perspective I needed today.

  • http://deannagabriel.blogspot.com d.s.

    as a pediatric icu and oncology nurse, i deal with life and death moments every day. while i know that i am often involved in some of the most difficult of all possible days in the lives of many families, its also opened me to some of the most beautiful of all human experiences–a parent helping me bathe a child, a teenage friend sitting for hours talking to their comatose friend as if nothing had changed, a grandmother wheeling an empty child-sized wheelchair to be donated to those in need after the death of her young grandson. i very much agree that “great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.” such moments are open for our taking, if only we make ourselves aware of their presence in our own lives.

    a beautiful story, indeed.

  • http://lozzalicious.blogspot.com Lozza

    Thankyou so much for sharing this link. It was just what i needed to read this morning.. What a truly lovely and touching story =o)

  • http://www.rivervoices.net Anonymous

    If you like Nerburn then by all means read his books. My favorites are “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” and “Chief Joseph and The Flight of The Nez Perce”

    Kudos to Her Heatherness for covering this amazing author!

  • kendra

    oh man. :(

    my son just asked me, “mom, what’s wrong with your eyes?”

  • Tara

    Thank you for sharing.
    The way it made me feel brought me back to my childhood. When I was a little girl I used to cry when I saw little old ladies alone in church, at restaurants, or out shopping…
    That thread continues throughout my life as I struggle with the fear of being alone.

  • http://www.creative-soup.blogspot.com Brooke

    i’ve never heard of this book, but based on that paragraph, i’m hooked. thanks for sharing that…the imagery is incredible and it’s one of those things you’re just drawn into….

  • http://www.dancingbirds.com/ Auburn

    Thanks. Your post just put today’s news into perspective for me. My husband and I just lost our entire retirement fund today, but this smacked me upside the head. There are way more important things than … well, than things.

  • Rina

    Wow, very touching and beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

  • Jessica

    Great story. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who might not have found it on our own.

  • Anonymous

    I am a hospice volunteer and I’ve been teetering on the edge of quitting the work because it is getting too hard. Thanks for posting this today. It helped remind me that what I do does matter even when it feels like I’m not “doing” enough a lot of the time.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting that.

    I always have believed that this world would be a better place if everyone was kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.

  • http://hellohillary.blogspot.com Hillary

    It’s a sweet story. A good reminder to remember that each person we come accross in a day is human – has a story, is worthy of respect.

    This story reminds me of Mother Theresa’s words, “We can’t all do great things, but was can all do small things with great love.”

    After all, it’s those small things done with great love that really count.

  • Ophelia

    Beautiful story.
    Life is made up of those unexpected moments. It’s a pity not everyone is willing to go out of their way for someone else, even just for a moment. We’d all be happier if we did.

  • Sharon Simpson

    Thank you so much for posting this. I had to stop crying before I could see the screen well enough to write a comment. My father raised me to always help others, be it small things or larger things. I have tried to live that way my whole life (I’m 66).
    Again, such a beautiful story. Thank you!

  • Annie

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the great injustice this world has suffered because of the advent of cell phones is the loss of frequent cabbie-passenger communication.

    Cabbies used to be good for at least one near-life-changing conversation a week. Now it’s rare to find one who will even speak to you because they’re always on the phone. I say in all sincerity that it’s been a real loss in my life, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

  • http://www.jenjennyjennifer.typepad.com Jen

    As I sit here looking at my four week old daughter, I hope she meets more people of this man’s caliber than those who aren’t nearly as good. Between this story and reading about how amazing a man Paul Newman was, I’m having a little more faith in humanity. It’s so nice to read the good rather than the ugly we see so often nowadays.

  • Anonymous

    I hate to be so cynical, but I kept wondering–did this really happen? Or did he invent it? It sounds almost too literary, every detail too perfect. But I suppose it almost doesn’t matter, since the effect is so powerful. Still, I wonder.

  • Sarah

    This was an amazing story. I am sitting here thinking that he made it to her funeral with flowers to let her know that she didn’t pass away alone. It makes me want to put my stamp on the world and do something that will leave an impression on someone’s life. Even if they are the one’s who left one on mine and allowed me to share that with the world. Thanks dooce!!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing that Heather. It’s all about those little moments that make this life worth living.

  • http://www.joeprose.typepad.com HeyJoe

    Very nice. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  • Karen

    So sweet of him to take the time with the old woman. I try to be especially pleasant and helpful to the older people I see walking along the street, or in my apartment building.

    I love old people, and can’t believe sometimes how they are ignored. Let’s all try to reach out to an elderly stranger in the next week!

  • http://geezlouize.com Heather

    Ahhh…you know just the right buttons to push on us readers. I needed a good cry today. Thanks!

  • http://sadandbeautiful.typepad.com Sarah

    I cried. Yes I did. I cried because that type of kindness gets me EVERY TIME.

    It is those sorts of moments, you know…those instances when one human makes a decision to be kind to another human being…those are the moments that matter. So many of us have to stop and and make a conscious decision to behave that way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we tried to make it a habit?

    Thanks for sharing the link…that was wonderful. :-)

  • http://pimpajoentje.be Greet

    I think it’s a bit too cheesy. And I wonder why the lady left for a hospice in the middle of the night. But apart from that it’s a lovely story indeed.

  • http://www.catheroo.com Catheroo

    What a beautiful man that cab driver is.
    Thank you for sharing his story.

  • Sarah

    It’s actually hard to put into words the feeling I had reading that.

    Perhaps having a father in his early 80′s and seeing his life unravel before my eyes.

    Perhaps it was the loss last week of my parents very very close friend since the 60′s that just passed away last week at age 83 – he and his wife – the Markgrafs, were famous artists in their own right here in Hudson Quebec.

    Or maybe it’s just the feeling of wanting to slow down time.

    I love what this story inspires. I hope you reach thousands with it, like you did with your contests. Then it would be awesome.

  • http://rahree.blogspot.com rahree

    This story is so touching because we can so easily find ourselves in either role…if I was the woman, I would be so grateful to find a helper like the driver. And how many times have I unwittingly found myself in the driver’s shoes?

    And how many times did I make the right, more patient choice? Fewer times than I’d like to think, I’d guess…

    Thanks for sharing. This is a fabulous story.

  • Stewie


    Metafilter is having an internal discussion about the behavior of commenters in the thread where Heather found this piece.

    The thread.

    The community meta-commentary about behavior in the thread.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad this touched so many people and warmed their day and all, but I’m afraid I’m with “Dan.”

    Wow. What bad writing.

    Your writing is better than this dude’s, Heather.

    That’s not kissing your ass. It’s just true.

  • Anonymous

    You should have a warning for pregnant, emotional women. Not something I should have read at work but worth it none the less!

  • http://smithsoccasional.wordpress.com Laura in Cincinnati

    Let’s all do this. OK? World’s problems solved. Period.

  • http://multiplemomt.blogspot.com/ Tina Ruddell

    What a beautiful story. What an amazing man to open his heart and close his wallet and experience such an amazing ride. Thank you for linking to it.

  • http://www.hellojosephine.blogspot.com Marla Good

    I don’t comment often, but I do want to thank you for this.

    Once, when I was sixteen and waitressing, a very old man tipped me $20 for a cup of coffee. He said it was because I was the only person that had smiled at him all day; and he left before I could give the money back. “Thanks” would have been just fine, but I’m sure I spent the money on Echo and the Bunnymen tickets or something silly. I used to think of him every day for a while after that, and I realize I’d forgotten him for years. Since I’m not a naturally smiley person, sometimes the best I can do these days is just to remember my good manners. Now, thirtymumble years later, I’ve just been reminded of him. Sincerely, thanks.

  • Mel

    Thanks for the beautiful reminder of our shared humanity.

    All the political talk swirling around at the moment has made me so sad. The candidates are people with lives, hopes, dreams, families. The folks voting for them are people, too, with their own little worlds and problems. So, why do we have to reduce everyone to a “type” — the villain, the buffoon, the dimwit, the poser, the savior? Our time on this earth is short and the best we can do is live good, honorable lives and fight for justice wherever and whenever we can.

  • April


    Thank you so much for sharing this. While it made me cry, it was just what I needed. Since I started back to school I have been so wrapped up in my own world writting papers, studying or doing other random things for school and have not been the best at keeping in touch with the people that mean the most to me.

    I am glad I stopped and took the time to come and read the blog today, but I have to go I have some emails and phone calls to make.


  • http://blog.deedoos-digital-scrapbooking.com Janet

    The line about treating the woman as he would want his mother to be treated was key. If we put ourselves in that same thought pattern more often in our dealings with one another, each of those changes taken together would transform our world. Thanks for the cry and the chance to remember that we are all linked in this life in ways we can’t imagine.

  • Karen

    PS. I just helped an elderly stranger…as I propositioned to all of you (it was a ‘wrong number’ and I helped her find the right number for Meals on Wheels). It took some extra effort, and I’m so glad I did it.