A Taxi-Fair Trade

A taxi driver today told me a story about a Valentines he remembers every year on this particular day.  He recounts that on this day, which was actually evening, the radio gives him an address to go pick up a client.  As he drives up, he notices a smallish woman of about fifty with two overstuffed suitcases in either hand packed as though her journey would would have lasted a year.  The driver, Ted, gets out from the car and rushes to help her with the heavy bags.  He’s excited because a trip to the airport, a two hour drive, would certainly have meant a nice big tip.  Enough so that he could stop at one of the fancy airport shops to get a box of dark chocolate for his beloved.  They had been arguing, something terrible and the threat of them breaking up loomed low and heavy.  He was hoping that it would all be solved soon.  He had spent the last three pick-ups in a silent stupor and not his usual  to and fro  chit chat with his clients self. Ted worried that his beloved of twenty-six years would be gone by the time he’d get home after his shift but supposed it would have been just as well.

Back to the story, so Ted climbs in and begins to set the meter suddenly anxious to get it over with this last call for the night.  whilst turning to ask her ”where to ma’am” as though he hadn’t already happily suspected.   She responds dryly, “around the block please”.  Ted looked at her from his mirror believing that it was a joke and waited for her to state she had been kidding, next announcing her real destination.  But the woman said nothing for a long while, a stopped-taxi-long-while.  Ted grew impatient glancing at both the meter and the clock.  The woman starts to speak…”just around the block please, I haven’t quite decided where I want to go yet “.   About just then her cell phone goes off– the ringtone set to that song by The Beatles…Yesterday.

<Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay>… the woman answers her  phone and matter-of- factly states, ” I’m leaving you Bobby and you can’t stop me this time’ ..then hangs up.  She looks up at Ted and tells him to start driving around the block like she had asked.   After about a minute, her phone goes off again this time, they hear… <suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be. there’s a shadow hanging over me, oh yesterday….> she picks up again and declares “what?” then doesn’t say anything for another long while and just listens. She half looks up at the driver and motions him to carry on driving, into the phone she says, ” its too late for apologies.. I’m leaving you for good this time, good bye”.  Teary eyed, she looks up at the driver and says “please keep driving, I haven’t made up my mind where I want to go”.  The phone rings again,…” <Why she had to go> pleads the phone …  < I don’t know she wouldn’t say, I said something wrong, now I long for … she picks up “stop interrupting me and my driver,  we’re half way to the airport already.

Ted sees where this is going, so he opens his  car door literally parked around the corner of their home address, and lights his cigarette.  He starts to think of his own sweetheart and how he’d miss her so much, he’d feel lost in the world though he’d have the wheels to take him anywhere he’d want to go.  Only that the place he wanted to travel was the short distance between the outstretched arms of his wife.

Ted peers in the car window at the woman.  She had since stopped talking and now was blowing her nose.  One of those loud and full nose blows that seem like they accompany the flu …the cell phone sitting quietly beside her.  Her phone starts up again…<Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play, now I need a place to hide away, oh I believe in yesterday… this time she picks up her phone and though Ted can’t hear her, he can make out by her expression that she’s made up her mind as to where she wants to go.   He puts out his cigarette and climbs back in,”where to ma’am he utters, “home” she says and looks up at him embarrassed.

“I’m sorry”, she says and starts to go for her purse …I’ll pay you for your trouble… Ted smiles … “home it is, keep your money… you’ve already paid me” … and he drives her home.   After dropping her and her two luggages off at the door, Ted returns to his car and drives  home to his wife. He would be early, early enough to try one more time.  The corner store would still be opened for a Valentine’s box of dark chocolate.  Dang, it seemed only  yesterday chocolate didn’t cost an arm…. just kidding.    The End.

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