I’m off spending the weekend with my mother and sister, to celebrate my sister’s birthday and just generally bask in the pleasure that is hanging out with my family. I slept pretty well in transit and woke up just as we got to DC. Outside the station, I needed a cab. A guy in a Rasta tam walked over and offered me a ride. He started walking and pointed out his car … his own personal car … not a taxi, just him, a stranger, offering me a ride.
(I have to disclose that this sort of thing happens to me from time to time, that I will be waiting for a light to change and someone will pull over, roll down their window and ask if I need a lift. I can’t explain it. It seems beyond crazy to me, but it doesn’t surprise me so much anymore.)
I balked. “This is just your car,” I said. “You’re a stranger, and you want me to get in your car.” (Sometimes, I find it helps to just state the facts, in case the other person hasn’t noticed them.)
I hemmed and hawed a bit, but then decided to trust my gut and got in the car. Don’t freak out. I never get in any of the cars that pull up to me at stop lights. I swear. But I trusted this guy, felt certain that I could. So certain that I immediately broke a hitch-hiker rule: I put my bag and cane into the back seat and I climbed in the front. (You’re always supposed to keep your bag with you … you know, in case you have to jump from the moving car or some such.)
We agreed on a price for the ride, and I called my mom to let her know I had arrived. “Here’s a blast from my irresponsible past,” I said and told her I was in some man’s car, getting a ride to the metro. She wanted to know his name. I asked. Peter G. B____ from Trinidad. Journeyman Electrician. Running a gypsy cab while he waits for union work to pick up. Only playing spiritual sounds on the radio. How do you do? It’s a short ride to the metro, but we squeezed in a fair bit of chat. I learned that Peter is 55 — though he looks about 40 — and that he plans to retire in 5 years if this recession doesn’t keep him down.
In five minutes with Peter I gave myself a chance to remember that sometimes a little trust can go a long way. After all, any driver whose cab I get into is a stranger, right? I don’t imagine I’ll be climbing into another stranger’s car any time soon, but I”m glad I trusted my instincts today, glad I trusted Peter … and, of course, glad he didn’t disappoint my trust.