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)

  • http://clevelandsaplum.com alexa

    now i’m a crier. i cry at everything, but not really from the written word. i need more of a visual to get the real tears a flowing.

    but this piece the first time i read it forever ago in a random email forward got me. BAD. it was worth it though.

  • http://parttimemodel.blogspot.com/ Elise

    Stopped by your blog looking for a laugh but instead I got a much-needed cry. At a time when the news cycles are consumed with politics and money, it’s refreshing and important to take a moment to think about small people and small moments, about human decency and grandma.

  • http://www.fussy.org Mrs. Kennedy

    That was a terrific story. I don’t know if someone else mentioned this, but NPR has been airing Story Corps stuff now and then and there was a very funny cab driver one the other day: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94776820

  • http://bloggingprojectrunway.blogspot.com/ Scarlett

    It reminds me of the last narration at the end of ‘American Beauty’ when Lester says, “…and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”

    Our lives are made up of little moments that are often overlooked because they aren’t the monumental, earth-shattering or orgasmic explosions. But the smile of a child or the hug of a parent or just the littlest kindness of a stranger (like when the policeman lets you off without a speeding ticket you really deserved) can color how you treat the next person and how they treat the next.

  • SuzieQ

    Everyone should be made to read this and then stop and think about it for a while..It all boils down to treating others as you would be treated..Where have we heard this??

  • Anonymous

    I do believe this is wonderful and a gift given to a stranger. I feel that many times we just as easily overlook those we know or even those we say we love.

    It is a wonderful story to share and hope that it opens peoples eyes and hearts to those nearby who might need some care…

    Love to all

  • BD

    If everyone lived their life by the Golden Rule, every moment in your life could be like that.

  • http://believeintheflowers.blogspot.com KAS

    Heather,
    This has reminded me of so many things. Of when my grandmother died, and then my grandfather. When one of my good friends lost her father to lung cancer a couple of years ago (and is now in the process of dealing with her mother’s progressive lymphoma). Of the close friend my mother lost to lung cancer. Of my former downstairs neighbor, who died a few days ago in a car accident (I didn’t know her well, but I also never introduced myself and never really said much to her). Of when my father-in-law’s mother died, then my mother-in-law’s mother, then my mother-in-law’s father (and my husband was unable to say goodbye or attend any of the funerals since they live 1600 miles away). I am reminded that a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. I am reminded that life is so very short and that we all have so many people that are important to us in one way or the other.

    I am reminded, too, of another story. I don’t remember it exactly so repeating it verbatim is out of the question, but I remember the gist of it.

    A young man who had just moved to the area was walking home from high school. He had spent all of his first week at his new school being bullied and beat up. Life at home was not much better; his parents were in the middle of a brutal divorce and custody battle, and neither parent was particularly excited about being the sole caretaker of a teenager. He felt unneeded, unwanted, and quite unloved. On his way home one afternoon, one of the many antagonists in his class nearly ran him over with a bicycle, forcing him to drop all of his books and papers into a puddle.

    One boy walking across the street had seen what had gone on that week. He was a “jock,” but felt that the treatment the new kid had received was wrong. Once the bicycle and its cackling owner had passed, the jock crossed the street and went over to help the new kid pick up his belongings. The jock introduced himself as Kevin; the new kid said his name was Bill, and the two struck up a friendship that lasted until graduation.

    Sure enough, Bill went on to be the class valedictorian. During his speech on graduation night, he asked Kevin to join him at the podium. Many of the attendees snickered to themselves, but Bill refused to speak until the stadium was quiet.

    “My friends,” Bill began, “this is Kevin. One day many years ago, Kevin stopped to help me out when nobody else did. I had spent all that week as the new kid in school, and had been taunted and bullied so badly that one night, after dinner, I decided that I would end all of my problems the next day. I wrote out a suicide note, got together some pills and alcohol, and went to sleep. The next day, on my way home, Kevin stopped to help me pick up my books after someone had knocked me over. I had planned to kill myself that night, but thanks to Kevin and his kindness, I never did. I owe my life to him.”

    Everyone in the stadium was shocked and surprised, even Kevin – who had never known just how much of an impact he had on his friend.

    I’m sure that the exact story was probably more of a tearjerker than that, but the point is made either way: kindness is the single most important gift we can share with mankind. Money is great, but its benefits are fleeting. Material possessions, while oftentimes wanted and coveted, are not necessary and will not last a lifetime. But kindness is seen, is remembered forever, and is passed on from person to person through words and actions.

    Thank you for helping me stop and remember what life is really about so that I may pass this message on to my 1 1/2 year old son. Those who critique the content of your blog do so blindly and with tunnel vision focused on only the things they want to see or read. They do not understand that it has a greater focus: changing lives.

  • http://bird-in-the-hand.blogspot.com/ Robin

    There are two jobs I could never do – work in a hospice or as an animal control officer (the kind that have to go into hoarders’ houses and take out all the sick and dying animals). This was a beautiful story and I thank you for sharing it. His gift to her was wonderful and you giving us the link was a wonderful gift to us. Thank you for the reminder of what it means to have compassion.

  • http://spandrelstudios.blogspot.com Spandrel Studios

    The more we look out for one another, the better this world will be. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Amy Beth

    This is beautiful. Thank you for posting this. It made me cry, think, consider, re-consider and hope.

  • Pebbles

    so Heather, maybe you should devote this site to being a better person and helping others. How about dumping the potty mouth and unintelligent political rants that you know provoke so much hostility (which I think you love).. Use this site for greater things…or is that too much work? It’s much easier for you to whine and complain. I’ve read your archives, there’s so much garbage it may take Ty Pennington, a bull dozer and his ABC crew to come in here and clean it up.

    I’ll be here waiting for the big life moving, earth shattering CHANGE at dooce.

    come one BUS DRIVER…MOVE THAT BUS

  • Megan

    I am a nursing student, and I’d like to think that going above & beyond what’s required of me, even in the smallest ways, can sometimes can have a huge impact on those I am caring for. I think this is what the cab driver did in the story, and it’s a wonderful reminder that small gestures of kindness are so worthwhile just in our everyday lives. Thanks for sharing this!

  • http://www.dinkycast.com Jen

    I miss my Grandma.

  • Pebbles

    oops..don’t want to get shamed or yelled at by your oh so sentimental readers… I meant to say in that last sentence in #192

    COME ON BUS DRIVER…MOVE THAT BUS

  • http://monkeyfilter.com Tracy

    I wish I’d read the comments here before I read the ones at Mefi, not the other way around — although the comments about memorable taxi rides are great. It’s nice to put aside the cynicism for a bit and savour a story, true or not.

  • http://www.fleuris.ca fleuris dot ca

    That is so true. I remember once being totally devastated after an ultimate frisbee game. I had a lot going on in my life at that time and I was waiting for a bus crying my eyes out. A woman with a stroller came by and said some comforting words. I’ll never forget her for that. Sometimes total strangers can have such a profound impact on a person’s life. For this reason & more, I try to be kind to people I don’t even know.

  • http://www.mydogumentary.wordpress.com gingela5

    It breaks your heart. What a great read! Thanks for the link.

  • Jeff K.

    All I can say… all that I think needs to be said is

    Thank you.

  • Mindy

    beautiful…thank you for sharing.

  • Susannah

    Thank you!

  • http://www.jillshalvis.com/blog Jill S.

    I’m always glad when I make it to your blog, but never more than today. Thank you so much. I hope you don’t mind if I share it on my blog as well.

  • http://www.csquaredplus3.typepad.com chris

    I’ve read this beautiful piece a few times prior, but on your website it will continue to touch more readers. That’s a wonderful thing.

  • Anonymous

    Going through a lot of crap myself right now, more or less as a result of a couple of those seemingly trivial choices we all make. It’s good to be reminded that some of my other seemingly trivial choices ended up being very good ones. Choices and acts that have touched others and made such wonderful differences for so many people.

    Thanks!

  • Talon

    Pebbles #192…

    Make your own blog, and don’t tell people what to do with their own space.

    Seriously.

  • http://gorabbitrabbit.blogspot.com Sarah

    My mom is a hospice volunteer, and it’s amazing and horrible to me to hear her stories of how many people are left there, totally alone. One lady that my mom had gotten to know and like passed away, and the family wouldn’t even pick up the body. It’s heartbreaking. (The good thing is they have people like my mom, who loves people and can talk to anyone like she’s known them forever. They also have Charlie, the hospice golden retriever…He’s awesome.)
    I’m glad the right driver was in the right place and did the right thing. It’s a sad and beautiful story.

    To 183: I loved that story! It made me smile all day. Yay, cab drivers :)

  • http://www.jen-and-steve.com Jenny

    This was truly beautiful.

    Sometimes it’s the small surprising moments in life that truly stay with us.

    I hope I have many of them in my life. And I hope I am met with kind people like this, too!

  • http://humbleorigins.blogspot.com/ tj

    …Thank you Heather…

    …Blessings… :o )

  • http://sassafrasmama.blogpsot.com Stacy

    Thanks —- I needed this today.

  • P

    118. Katie… thanks for the reminder.

    I am the primary care giver for my elderly mother who is in the latter stages of untreatable cancer. Two years ago, I went through the same thing with my Father. To say that it has its stressful moments would be a vast understatement. Unfortunately, those stressful times often exhibit themselves as impatience. Certainly not because I don’t want to take care of her as I truly believe it is a blessing, but rather because I see a little bit more of her slip away everyday. It’s hard losing any ground when the ground is already so unstable. That having been said, I’m going to try and take some deep breaths before “reacting” next time.

    Okay, now I’m crying.

    Thanks for the post.

  • http://sforshenanigans.blogspot.com Shenanigans

    It’s 9 25am. I am sitting at my desk at work fighting back tears. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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

    Pebbles? I have to say I’m worried about you. I can tell you’re being held hostage with a gun to your head, and you are being forced to read this blog. Please. Let us know where we can send the help, and the police will come and rescue you.

    It must be horrible, Pebbles. Reading things against your will, and then feeling obligated to tell us about it has got to be absolutely miserable.

  • http://heidirenee.blogspot.com Heidi Renée

    Total waterworks here. I’m going to send this to my mother. My grandmother, who had multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, died in hospice nearly three years ago. It was the most painful thing my family has ever been through, but knowing that her final moments were spent in a loving place will always be comforting.

  • http://raanve.livejournal.com Jess A.

    Thank you for this. I needed this reminder today, that there are still good people in the world, and that small kindnesses can change lives.

  • mikie

    Indeed, thank you for sharing. It’s easy for me to sometimes lose perspective and start to think I’ve got so little worth. But this story reminds me that it doesn’t take some amazing act of heroism to touch a life… it only takes a little heart and a little willingness to act. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of a single human life, whether it’s one year old or one hundred. Thanks again.

  • Sue

    My dog and I work as a Pet Therapy team at one of our local hospitals. It has been an amazing journey. To be able to hear some amazing stories from hospice patient’s, to seeing a very sick child feel better for a few moments. Simply by being there and giving them time with someone (my dog) to listen to how they feel. It is time slowed down and shared with strangers that makes us connect like we were meant to.

  • Tania

    Thanks for sharing that. I really don’t have any words to express what that story made me think about and feel, but I’ll keep that story with me as I wade my way through rough times for a little perspective.

  • Steph

    I have read this before….for some reason—it struck me tonight. I’ve been in a rut. I needed this. If I am being honest…it made a difference. Thank you for sharing….and seriously….the people who are worried about how quickly they responded—they can’t seriously have read and appreciated what you posted.

  • Anonymous

    Sending that link to my 18 yr. old daughter away at college – hoping that she remembers how sometimes it’s the small moments that impact others lives….

    And to Pebbles – you are undoubtedly a miserable cunt. How’s that for a potty mouth, eh? If you don’t like it here – go away and stay away. The rest of us LOVE HEATHER.

  • Sarah

    I’ll tell you what, that post butterflied its little wings all over the internet, and SOMEBODY is going to remember to do the right thing at the right time as a result.

    Nice work, Jesus.

    Hehe.

  • Amanda

    This story reminded me of a similarly touching story by Heather Hunter (author at This Fish Needs A Bicycle). The post is titled “intersection” and can be found here: http://thisfish.ivillage.com/love/archives/2007/12/

    Enjoy another inspiring and wrenching story.

  • Heather

    She gave him a gift. His “what if” comments at the end are superfluous. It was meant to be him. There are nursing homes everywhere in this country filled with similar stories, if we are willing to listen.

  • http://www.curlsz.blogspot.com/ malita

    thank you for sharing that – as soon as I read hospice my eyes watered – i love that he took the time out of a normally paying moment to just know her and let her share her life with him – why are we afraid to know each other?

  • nat

    Thank you for this Heather. I needed to be reminded today (after a terrible day yesterday) that it’s always better to be kind to anyone you meet. You never know what battle they are facing.

  • Madeline

    hey..thanks.

  • http://www.Beverly-Useyourwords.blogspot.com Beverly

    I know I have had moments like this. The quiet moments I have with a family whose newborn is close to death. I never know when or if anything I do is making an everlasting impression for them. But, I guess they do. This may not make any comparsion to this story, but I did.

  • Christina Sciubba

    It just goes to show that a little kindness goes a long way.
    When my little brother died three years ago at the age of nine due to a rare form of pediatric cancer, I realized how important it is to hug my daughter and make sure I tell her or show her that I love her every day. If it takes an extra minute to say good bye in the morning, or if she just needs to talk a few extra minutes at the end of the day (even if she’s avoiding bedtime) I will always spend the extra time. You just never know what tomorrow will bring.
    Cancer is a bitch, no matter what form, but I think that people can get through anything on kindness, whether it’s family, or a cab driver.

  • http://www.mooretokens.com michelle

    My grandmother just passed away yesterday, so I am especially attuned to stories like this. Thanks for sharing.

    First, I love how life’s pleasures for the elderly are so simple and sweet. They see the value and joy of a phone call, a hug, a moment sitting outside in the fresh air, a drive around town…

    Secondly, I’ve always felt that spending time with the elderly is like slamming on life’s breaks, but when we do take the time to slow down, sit with them, and listen to their stories (even if we’ve heard them before), it’s never in vain. So much perspective and wisdom in those beautiful, aged souls.

  • https://www.itsinyourunderneath.com Marjorie

    That was very touching.
    It did not make me cry however.
    Sitting here thinking about it (about why I didn’t cry), I realize it is because I have faith in the goodness in people. There ARE good people out there who care for others and aren’t solely focused on themselves and what they can get out of any given situation.
    It made me feel good to read that.
    I internally let out a sigh of relief and it erased one or 3 news stories of very horrid people.
    Thank you for posting the story.
    Marjorie

  • Allison

    Heather, thank you for reminding me of Kent Nerburn. I have read…read is not the write word. I have immersed myself in several of his books. I need to immerse myself in them again!

    While I might have a different opinion than you politically, and while I might not agree that small children should be allowed (or even exposed to) foul language, I admire the gift you have of writing. Surely you know how many people you reach…and what an impact your gift can have.