My entire life I have always been dependent on others for transportation. Be it my parents, the Government of the country I resided in ,the auto and taxi drivers, friends that were kind, or my brother who I summoned every time I got stuck, lost or felt lazy- it's always been anyone but me at the steering wheel.
Most of my mornings to work, involve me always racing against time, time always of course winning over me. Some of those mornings, I end up taking a cab so as to not let the day bear consequence to my tardiness. Some cabbies are extremely cordial and respectful, while others could care less. I had one cabbie once tell me that all he aims to do all day long is to bring a smile to his passenger's day. That definitely brought a smile to mine.
One such cabbie I got along very well with. I could trust him and I'm not sure what made me believe that. It's as if he had a special heart. Over time, as we talked and shared not so personal observations, there was an untold bond, one that made him look out for me. The day I got back from my vacation, he said 'welcome home' and it just made me smirk.I wondered as to how much effort it would take certain people of this country to undo the damage that some other's had inflicted on my notion of home. He recognized the pain and reiterated, that this IS now home to me, no matter what the past had unfolded.
He was a person I would call on a random note and he would show up to pick me up from anywhere in the city within a span of 20 mins. It was a feat I never understood how he managed. I would give him the fair fare and he would always return the smallest currency in the bundle I handed. I would refuse with an exasperated look and he would say ' i don't need it'. I have seen so much of the city just through his rides back home. He would take me through different parts of the city and being a Chicagoan, would give me the history of different places and folklore that went with it. I enjoyed my rides no matter how tired I was, as long as it was Joe who was driving me home.
On Christmas week, as I summoned for his services again, he as usual showed up in 20 mins. I hurried up to finish my errands and settled in the back seat. Joe, as he always did, took a minute to turn back, get a good look at me, let me catch my breath and ask me a 'how are you?'- one that he wanted a real answer to. It always brought a smile to my tired eyes. He then announced that he was not taking a fare from me that day. I as usual jumped and would not hear of an unnecessary favour. He then announced that it was his Christmas gift for me. He did not have a family,would not have a Christmas dinner, would be in fact working through that weekend. He did not have anybody to share it with and for him sharing Christmas was about giving.
As I snuggled under my covers that night and thought about the events of the day, I realised that it had been a really long time since I was truly surprised(pleasantly of course!). Not the kind of surprise that you feel when unexpectedly a friend shows up with a birthday cake on the strike of midnight on your special day. Yes, it's a surprise, one that you hadn't expected, but it's not that kind of surprise, the kind you had not imagined in a hundred years.
Joe has a special heart, the kind that knows how to bring warmth into hearts that he cares about, the kind that could give despite meagre means. I might always be dependent when it comes to transportation. I might move counties, cities, countries..for that matter may be even planets..but to find another Joe in the midst of plunging selflessness and love for another would be an arduous task.
To Joe - May your goodness be reflected in myriad ways eternally.