It was a hot and humid Sunday evening in New York as I drove my apple green Boro taxi up the dark, energetic streets of Harlem. Chris Brown’s “New Flame” song serenaded the taxi as I hit 125th Street. There were so many half-dressed young white people getting off packed public buses and making their way down into the Lexington Avenue 125th Street Subway Station. I knew they just came from partying at Randall’s Island for Electric Zoo 2014.
A short, elderly caramel complexioned woman clad in a royal-blue dress and matching hat flagged me down. She was holding two black suitcases. I immediately stopped in front of her and got out of my car. I read an article online that 125th Street & Lexington Avenue was the most violent area in East Harlem. I didn’t want any crazed person attacking this elderly woman.
“Hi, sir! Would you mind carrying my bags to the car?” She asked.
“Sure.” I told her.
I put her suitcases in the trunk. Then I took the elderly woman’s hand, and we walked slowly to the taxi. I opened the door for her and helped her inside. I made sure she was comfortable before I closed the door.
“Thank you! You are such a gentleman.” She said.
“Thanks, I do my best to give my passengers the greatest taxi ride possible.”
“You’re sweet.” She replied.
When I got back inside my taxi, I asked her, “Where are you going?”
“Can you take me to 74th Street and West End. Take the longest way possible because I’m not in the rush to get there.” She continued. “My granddaughter would be there waiting for me in a few hours. I want to enjoy the scenery of the city one last time.”
“One last time?” I was confused.
“My doctor says I don’t have very long to live.” She murmured. “So I want to stay with my granddaughter till its time for me to go to heaven. She’s the only family I have left.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I felt.
I gazed at the rear-view mirror and saw tears rolled down her caramel face. I shut the meter off and began driving down Lexington Avenue. I didn’t care about the fare. The only thing on my mind was driving her around Manhattan.
As I drove downtown on the East Side, she became loquacious and shared some things about her life. Her name was Rose and she born in 1928. She worked for Madison Square Garden and the Twin Towers. Rose was married for 40 years before her husband died of cancer two years ago at Lenox Hill Hospital. She pointed at the buildings she resided in and the schools her children attended. Rose would occasionally ask me to slow down in front of particular streets. I watched her stared into the darkness and be mute. It was strange!
“You can drive now, dear.” Rose finally spoke after snapping out of her trance.
“Are you hungry? I’ll take you to your favorite food spot. It’ll be my treat.” I expressed. “I’d like to feed you before taking you home.”
“No, I’m fine.” Rose replied. “I’m tired. I’m ready to go home.”
The sunlight made the streets glowed as I drove to the address Rose told me. It was The Esplanade Residence for Senior Living. I pulled up in front of the building and a tall, light-skinned Black woman with long black hair approached the taxi. She was expecting us and I assumed it was Rose’s granddaughter.
I opened the trunk and got out of the taxi.
“Good morning.” I said to the tall woman.
“Hi.” She smiled at me.
I helped her with the suitcases and then I slowly walked Rose to the building. I was feeling both happy and sad. My short adventure around Manhattan with Rose meant a lot to me.
“How much do I owe you?” Rose asked, reaching into her mahogany purse.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s taking care of.” I told her. “I hope you have a great day.”
Then I bent down and gave her a hug. Rose held onto me tightly.
“Thank you, for giving an old lady a little moment of joy.” Rose whispered in my ear. “I appreciate it.”
I squeezed her hand, and shook the granddaughter’s hand. Then I hopped back in my taxi and drove off. I was lost in my own thoughts. I could not believe what just happened. It felt like a movie. Rather, it felt like a dream. But it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
I put the radio on and Keyshia Cole’s “Heaven Sent” was playing. That moment, I looked down and saw a crisp one hundred dollar bill on the seat. I knew it was there before, which was uncanny. I began smiling because I knew it was a blessing.
“Rose, I hope you prove your doctor wrong and live much longer than anticipated.” I said. “God bless you!”
By Shamarie Knight, 1st Sep 2014