Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Cab Ride

When I received this in the e-mail this morning, I realized I had read it before. I read through it anyway, and was every bit as moved as when I read it the first time, and so, I share it with you.

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building 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, and 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, and 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,”

I responded. 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, and 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 to end 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. People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Shopping, Social Issues, Spiritual | 5 Comments

Amazing Performance en Point

A friend sent me this u-Tube video. I love dance, and I have never seen anything like THIS! It’s a French broadcast, but you don’t need to understand French to understand how incredible this couple’s performance is.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Entertainment | , | 13 Comments

How Work Stress Changes Your Body

From yesterday’s BBC Health News:

Work stress ‘changes your body’

Stress seems to produce biochemical changes
A stressful job has a direct biological impact on the body, raising the risk of heart disease, research has indicated.
The study reported in the European Heart Journal focused on more than 10,000 British civil servants.

Those under 50 who said their work was stressful were nearly 70% more likely to develop heart disease than the stress-free.

The stressed had less time to exercise and eat well – but they also showed signs of important biochemical changes.

The studies of Whitehall employees – from mandarins to messengers – started in the 1960s, but this particular cohort has been followed since 1985.

As well as documenting how workers felt about their job, researchers monitored heart rate variability, blood pressure, and the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood.

They also took notes about diet, exercise, smoking and drinking.

Then they found out how many people had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) or suffered a heart attack and how many had died of it.

Lead researcher Dr Tarani Chandola, of University College London, said: “During 12 years of follow up, we found that chronic work stress was associated with CHD and this association was stronger both among men and women aged under 50.

“Among people of retirement age – and therefore less likely to be exposed to work stress – the effect on CHD was less strong.”

You can read the rest of the study HERE,

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, News, Statistics | 1 Comment

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday, as I was blogging early in the morning, everything suddenly went wonky and I discovered I was no longer blogging as the blogger, but as a guest. I did everything I could think of, and nothing worked. All day long, srom time to time I would try to log in and it would tell me I was not a valid user. I even changed passwords – nothing doing, the password was not the problem, I was the problem.

Finally, late last night just before bed, I could get on again. I was concerned whether I could get on today, but so far so good, only it doesn’t want to publish my posts. (and as a blogger, like what’s the point, if you can’t post???)

For my not-living-in-Kuwait readers, yesterday we had rain. I suspect rain may be part of the problem – rain has always screwed things up in Florida, in Seattle, in Germany . . .

Here is a photo of the gently falling rain on local vegetation:

Yeh, I don’t know why the sky looks sort of blue-green, it was really cloudy, but I was shooting toward the sea and maybe the sea reflected green on the clouds (?)

And here is the sunrise from this morning – all two seconds of it. It’s a good thing I was waiting with my camera, this is all I got:


Two seconds later, it was gone. Here is what we have now:


It seems to be brightening, even though we still have cloud cover. Kuwait is a dry country, and desperately needs the rain. This is the dryest, coldest rainy season in memory.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Weather, WordPress | 7 Comments