For the next two hours, they drove through the city. She showed Kent the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had Kent 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 Kent 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.”
They drove in silence to the address she had given Kent. 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 they pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. Kent 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,” Kent said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers.”
Almost without thinking, Kent bent and gave her a hug. She held onto him tightly.
“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
Kent squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind him, a door shut – the sound of the closing of a life. He didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. He drove aimlessly, his mind was preoccupied by the cab ride with the old lady.
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.