The Last Taxi Ride

by Kent Nerburn

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 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.

Love is Not Enough →

Mark Manson:

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Tree Hill is just a place somewhere in the world. Maybe it’s a lot like your world, maybe it’s nothing like it.

But if you look closer, you might see someone like you. Someone trying to find their way. Someone trying to find their place. Someone trying to find their self.

Sometimes it seems like you are the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, unsatisfied, barely getting by.

But that feeling’s a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay.

Because we all need a little help sometimes – someone to help us hear the music in their world, to remind us that it won’t always be this way.

That someone is out there. And that someone will find you.

—Lucas Scott, One Tree Hill

Coming Full Circle

Back in the day, I used to be super private about my personal life. No matter how hurt or how angry I was, I kept it all inside. I felt like it was the honorable thing to do.

But then I realized how much that shit would just eat me from the inside. That little fire in me would grow bigger and the point where it'd just take one wrong push of a button and I would unleash everything on one unlucky person.

I couldn't take it anymore.

So I started to open up. A lot more. I'd blast all my business on my blog. Passive aggressive posts, left and right. Some posts even calling people out, straight up. It didn't matter how outrageous or irrational I was feeling; I was hurt, I was angry, and I wanted to let the whole fucking world know it. So I did.

But then I realized that venting publicly never solved anything. Nobody gives a shit. Nobody cares for a pity party. It only caused more drama for others and it'd always eventually come back to me.

So then I started to confide in my close friends. I'd tell them everything. I trusted them, wholeheartedly. They were my closest friends and they were always looking out for me.

But then I realized how much friends gossip. Even the close ones. I learned that telling them, "please don't tell anyone" apparently means, "okay, tell your close friends everything that I'm about to tell you, but tell them not to tell anyone."

I learned how fast and how dangerous the gossip train can get. In my most vulnerable times, when all I was doing was clawing and reaching for guidance and stability, I inadvertently became the source of gossip and ended up hurting people I still cared about. (You know who you are, and I'm so fucking sorry I hurt you.)

So now everything has come full circle. I've learned that I can't trust people. I've learned that I can't just scream at the world and blast shit on the internet. I've learned that if I'm going down, I can't just take other people down with me. I've learned to keep my private life private.

I let shit eat me on the inside. I fight my own battles now. I struggle with my own demons. Constantly. Because at the end of the day, it's the honorable thing to do, and the only person that will ever truly be around for me


I wish I could say that everything from my past has made me a better person instead of a bitter one.

But I can't.

I don't know how to trust anymore. The times I stepped up to do the right thing are the times that I got burned. I've learned from my mistakes but the bitterness is still too much.

I push people away. I keep everyone at a safe distance. I'm too damn scared to let anyone close enough to hurt me again.

It's not the right way to live"¦but it's the only way I know right now.

Love & Honor

"Talking." Courting. Dating. Becoming official. Moving in. Relationship-defining fights. The blessing of her parents. Proposal. Marriage.

I always believed that the whole journey should be honorable.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned like that.

But I'm slowly opening up to the idea that maybe love doesn't have to follow that script to be honorable.

Sometimes a woman's love overlaps two men for a while before finally committing to the right one.

Sometimes the right one started off as a rebound.

Sometimes two people are right for each other even though some closest friends/family say it's wrong.

Sometimes the right one once dated a close friend.

Sometimes two people falling in love means someone on the outside has to get hurt.

Maybe when it comes to love, the only honor that's needed is two people that are meant for each other, finally finding each other.

And nothing else matters.

Why Do I Try?

I've always believed that if I always treat people the way I want to be treated, good things will happen to me.

That working hard and being kind will take me places.

That what goes around, comes around.

That all the times I've gotten burned is just me paying my dues, and later in life I will be rewarded for my selflessness. For my compassion. For my internal desire to want to make my mark on this world by leaving it a little more beautiful than I found it.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe the only way to get what I really want is to be selfish. To take what I want. To not prioritize anyone or anything else but myself and what I want.

But I don't want that. I don't want to believe that.

I can't explain why it is so deeply entrenched in me to always want to do the right thing, when my biggest losses in the past have proven that I will be just be taken advantage of.

Maybe I'm just being blind. Stupid. Naive. Ignorant. I don't know"¦

But I'll keep trying.

There has to be something good for me out there. Something that'll make everything in the past worthwhile.

At least I hope so.

Top 10 Ways to Win My Heart

  1. Keep your promises.
  2. Break me out of my introverted shell. Inspire me to step out of my comfort zone.
  3. Know when to be patient with me and give me space when I need it.
  4. Know when to be blunt and push me harder. Remind me you're pushing me harder because you want what is best for me.
  5. Understand that I have an emotional breaking point where my ugly side comes out. And don't judge me for my tendency to hold grudges against people that hurt me to that breaking point.
  6. Stick up for me and/or give me the benefit of the doubt when you hear shit about me, and then ask for my side of the story.
  7. If you hurt me, you apologize through actions, not just words (or text message).
  8. Inspire me to be a better person, especially when I'm struggling.
  9. Random acts of kindness. Surprise me with sincerity. Show me that our relationship isn't dependent on me initiating everything.
  10. Be straight up with me. No secrets. No lies. Understand that I might get upset at first, but in the long run it will strengthen my trust and respect in you.