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.


16 thoughts on “Trust

  1. What a great post! I am a proponent of picking up hitchhikers–when my gut tells me its ok. I here you on that. I’m glad it worked out for you too. You never know why those sort of things happen. But I believe they happen for a reason!


    1. Thanks, Shari! You’re braver than I am … I don’t know if I would pick up hitchers if I were a driver. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I would! I’m glad it has always worked out for both of us!


  2. molly

    I would have preferred for you to call your mother before you got into the car, giving her the guy’s name which you would have read to her from his driver’s license.
    But that wouldn’t have been as much trust, would it?
    I suppose that this is the live demonstration that the majority of the world is made up of normal, decent people. I think crime shows on TV and sensational news programs have made us believe that the majority of human adult males are bad guys. It just isn’t true.
    Congratulations on keeping your life an adventure, one of the many things I admire about you.


    1. I think my mom would have preferred things your way, too, Molly. That didn’t even occur to me!

      I’m not sure how much of an adventure my life is in the day to day, but every once in a while, there’s a little room for the impromptu …


  3. Next time, for OUR sake, keep the cane up front, ok? I’m one to talk–NYC’s full of gypsy cabs, my *father* drove a gypsy cab when he first migrated to the US, so I tend to trust them, too…esp since they’re usually immigrants, and I feel like I can relate. But your hitchhiking escapades in Europe freaked me out, too…be safe! and enjoy the blossoms in DC.


    1. You know, I thought about that as I typed it. Yes, it would make sense to keep the cane in easy reach, right?

      Comically enough, I don’t ride in gypsy cabs at home. There was just something ‘trustable’ about this guy …


    1. I think I’ll repeat my response to Stacey: you say ‘wild spirit’ … my family surely says something else entirely! My sister was about to respond and say they all think I’m nuts! 🙂


  4. You’re right that someone being a licensed cab driver is no guarantee of non-criminality. The acquaintance of an acquaintance of mine was murdered by an actual cab driver some years ago. I was with him when he gave her a call at her job. When the people at her office said she wasn’t there, he joked, “Tell that girl she needs to get to work on time,” or some such. Turned out the reason she wasn’t there was that she was dead. He felt dreadful later about what turned out to be the worst-timed joke of all time. I’m glad your gypsy driver was entirely at the other end of the spectrum.


    1. Linda, that’s awful! Stories like this are, of course, the reason I don’t make a practice of getting into strangers’ cars … except that I do get into strangers’ cars all the time. Every time I take a cab, every time I’m the last person on the bus …

      So disturbing. And one more very concrete reason for being glad Peter is a good man.


    1. There was a book published several years ago called The Gift of Fear. I didn’t read it, but the basic premise seemed to be that we all have a finely attuned fear response and we should listen to it. It’s there for a reason and we — especially women — have been trained to push it aside and make nice with people. I tend to listen to my fear response. Not always as quickly or completely as I ought to, but I listen. And, too, I try not to take super crazy chances too often!


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