December 10, 2013

THE CAB RIDE I WILL NEVER FORGET

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One time I arrived in the middle of the night for a pick up at a building that was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.


Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.” I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.
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.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.” We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing,” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers.”
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient at the end of his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. 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.
Kent Nerburn


August 26, 2013

To All The Girls I've Ever Loved...

This is about all the girls I’ve ever loved beginning December 6, 1968. Well, it really started in May of that same year. I was working night shift at an Exxon service station (real service, oil checking, window washing and all) and one evening a car pulled in for fuel. When I went to the window to ask what I could do for the customer, there SHE was. She was a 15 year old high school student in my hometown. In such a small town with such a small high school, how could I have ever missed her? Maybe I was looking for an older woman. Anyway, it was love at first sight. OK. Maybe it was lust, but whatever, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I wanted to sleep in her bed and I wanted her to have my children. Well, the bed sleeping part and children bearing part didn’t start then, but I asked if I could see her again. Much to my surprise, she said yes.  We started dating and I could not go a day without seeing her. She was in my thoughts continually. I wanted to marry her, but she was just 15 years old and an only child. We dated for about 6 months and then I popped the question. She said yes again. We then went to work on her parents. I remember having supper with them every night for 3 months and I am sure they felt the only way to stop me from eating with them everyday was to give me their daughter in marriage. It worked!  On December 6, 1968 we were married.  I have slept in her bed now for almost 45 years and she still excites me. She has given me 3 wonderful children and has done a fantastic job in raising them. That leads to the other women in my life that I will always love—Amy, our oldest daughter, and Marlie, our youngest, and Trish my daughter-in-law. Then there is Lauren, Lenzy, and Chloe my precious granddaughters. How can a man be so blessed? Anyway, I am, and I rejoice for these loves of my life.

August 2, 2013

Fort Worth here we come...

Well, that time of the year is almost upon us. You may ask, "what time of the year is that?"  My response is, "Are You Ready For Some Football?!"  I'm talking primarily about NCAA college football. Let me get this out of the way first:  I am a big TCU fan. I didn't follow them until I sent my youngest daughter to school there. It just seemed right that if they were getting most of my income, that I should have a right to expect not only a good husband for my daughter (which I got), but also a good football team. I will have to say they have not disappointed me the last few years. 

Preacher's Wife suggested that since there is no more college tuition to pay that we should still invest something in the school.  I told her I could think of nothing better than season tickets to their football games. She agreed. She loves football but she also loves the idea of seeing her youngest grandchildren on a regular basis. So we became season ticket holders. Now since the college tuition almost broke me we have to sit in the end zone, but what the heck, she still gets to see her grandchildren and I get to use my new binoculars. I hope whatever team you are rooting for wins, especially if they are a Texas team - UNLESS, they are playing against TCU.

April 2, 2013

My Dogs and My Sermons..

Now don’t get me wrong about what I am going to say. I don't hate dogs. I love my dogs. I even talk to them. I just don’t ask them questions expecting them to answer me. They say a dog is a man’s best friend. I guess that all depends on the man and the dog. We have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Bo and Jake are simply lap dogs. They eat, sleep and wait to be petted. They bark only when they want a piece of ice to chew on. They make little or no demands. In fact they give me loads of affection. When I come home from a long trip or even a short trip to the grocery store, they meet me at the door and run in circles until I sit down and let them give me a big slobbery kiss. At times, I feel like walking out the back door and around the house and coming in again, just so I can feel loved and get another kiss. I have found them to be two of  best friends. They serve me well. When I am going over my sermon they lay in the floor and sleep. It makes it feel just like I am preaching in church, with little or no response coming from the pews. They usually wake up when I am finished and expect to be petted. The more I think about it, it’s a lot like church. I wonder if both my dogs as well as people's response in church have anything to do with my preaching?

March 6, 2013

Frustrated by Telephone Prompts?

I realize times have changed and I'm still a little old fashion, but it doesn't change the fact that telephone prompts frustrate the heck out of me. How many times have you called a business and have been asked to press a certain key to speak to someone. Of course you will need to know their extension. Generally a list of names and extensions are not conveyed. I have moved beyond the frustration of the first prompt which is, do you prefer 'English' or 'Spanish'. 
I prefer a person, even if they speak spanish. I realize I will not be able to use my hands over the phone to communicate with them, but generally the name of a person I speak, they will understand. 

Usually when I call a business, I’m not sure which number to press, because by the end of all the selections I have either forgotten all mentioned prompt selections or nothing matched what I needed. It usually ends up either, “ your business is important to us so please remain on the line, and someone will be with you shortly,” or “please press zero and the operator will direct your call.” Nine times out of ten, it usually ends up that I have to press zero because I didn’t hear anything I needed. Once I press zero I  hear someone say, "we are experiencing a high volume of calls, your call will be handled in 12 minutes." 

Another fun little annoyance with these prompts is when I hear, “please listen carefully because our menu selections have changed.” This is great but I never called your company before, so how would I know what the old selections were? I think they do this because they want you to stay on the phone and hear all their choices, and you won’t try using the prompts before they say what they are. Maybe there could be a game show called “Beat the Prompts.” 

 People still need people. It just seems like it is harder to get to people than ever before. Look, I understand the cost of having a receptionist that is good at multi-tasking, but there has got to be a better way. 

Here’s a thought, just put a receptionist on the phone. Not only will we not have to sit and listen to the laundry list of the “directory” selections, but our call will end up being directed to exactly where it needs to go, even if it is to the right persons voice mail. At least we can move on into hope that they will return our call, plus you’ll help the unemployment rate.

January 2, 2013

I'm Through Whining...The quilter finally made me a quilt.

If you remember a few post back I wrote about being married to an avid quilter. I shared how she had made a quilt for everyone in the family but me.  Of course, I whined and complained about being her only financial sponsor.  I know it is probably pretty petty of me, but after I saw her first quilt I was blown away at its beauty.  I wanted one to call my own. Well, as much as I hate whining and complaining (which she believes I enjoy),  I must say it worked. It was either that or the $8,000.00 Janome 12000 sewing machine I bought for her sewing room.
Anyway, it was a small price to pay to see her happy face. It has been said, "if momma ain't happy nobody's happy."  I cannot say that about my children's momma. She has always been one of the most, spiritual, secure, gifted, talented, loving, easy going, and generous women I know. Add to that being a pastor's wife for over 25 years, raising three wonderful children, and being a fantastic grandmother to seven grandchildren. And to think she doesn't even teach a Bible Study. But she is for sure a Proverbs 31 woman from my perspective.