Join 3,374 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The story of a cab ride.
September 28, 2008 4:41 PM   Subscribe

The cab ride I'll never forget.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (193 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite

 
This would've been pretty good as a MeFi comment, I guess.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw this on reddit yesterday. So short but so powerful. And is even more impressive if it's fiction.
posted by zardoz at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


mmm, treacle!
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:48 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for making me blubber on a Sunday night.
posted by bayliss at 4:48 PM on September 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


$700B government bailout because of Wall Street greed. Wars in multiple countries because of religious / political differences. America torn into red versus blue with nothing but hatred and disdain for each other.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that there are still nice things and good people in the world too... Thanks, Brandon (even if it is fake, it was what I needed tonight).
posted by educatedslacker at 4:50 PM on September 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


Thanks for reminding me I need to go visit a friend and fix their computer.
posted by loquacious at 4:50 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Note to self: call granddad. *gulp*
posted by Countess Elena at 4:50 PM on September 28, 2008


Then he realized his wallet was missing.
posted by pracowity at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2008 [66 favorites]


Great story.

More on the writer.
posted by blahblah at 4:53 PM on September 28, 2008


Not so good. Whether fiction or not, the paragraph beginning "For the next two hours" is where the interesting stuff should be, and there's nothing there.
posted by cincinnatus c at 4:53 PM on September 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


Fiction or not it was real sweet, and having been a night shift cabbie, not hard to imagine. Most everyone who gets into a cab after 2:00am is looking for something; and yeah, sometimes it's you.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Harry Chapin would've taken the money. But he was a potsmoking folksinger, not an author of eight spiritual books.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:56 PM on September 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Here is Kent Nerburn's weblog.
posted by netbros at 5:02 PM on September 28, 2008


Don't care if it's fiction, it's enough to me that he wrote it and shared it. The beauty of it is authentic either way.
posted by Lou Stuells at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's stories like this that stop you in your tracks and make you realise that all the fuss and hassle of the things you're doing at that moment aren't so important after all.

I can always whack Vinnie and feed him to the fishes another night.
posted by panboi at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Best of the web. The rest of the blog is pretty interesting too, even for non-Zen practitioners.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2008


That's a good, faithful, spiritually uplifting story, true or not, it's "true". I like stories/links like these.
posted by kalessin at 5:05 PM on September 28, 2008


I thought the writing was fine. People have this bizarre need for specifics in nonfiction which the vagaries of memory prevent from being true. There was not nothing in the section where he drove her around town: there was what he could remember about her memories and the feel of the experience. If it was fiction, then yeah, you'd have wanted more in there but to demand that of nonfiction is simply to demand that people make stuff up.
posted by Maias at 5:17 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I greatly disliked this story. Whether fictional or non-fictional, it's definitely bad in concept and execution.
It's one cabbie talking about himself, when the actually interesting story is the only other protagonist. Two people in the whole tale and unfortunately for us, one of them's a narcissist. Who cares about you, cabbie? Give us more about the elderly dying woman with the interesting life! Garrison Keillor would be turning in his grave if he was dead. The only spiritual uplift here is the rising feeling in my throat, and the taste of my breakfast.
As to this:
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
I can only say that this high point is a marker on the top of what must be a deeply unreflective existence. By the way, Kent, get rid of managerialist jargon like "on a quick review" from your quasi-zen: it was lame when Pirsig did it.
This is cheesy, saccharine and overcooked all at the same time: an impressively awful achievement.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:17 PM on September 28, 2008 [22 favorites]


That's not a cab ride. THIS is a cab ride.
posted by pjern at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a story as generic as they come about someone close to death, with the manipulative headings "The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget" and "I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life", and it doesn't have a single interesting thing to say that isn't described by the gloopy headings.
posted by cincinnatus c at 5:28 PM on September 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


Made for a nice Sunday read, reminded me of many other classics, such as the lost adventures of Harry Canyon; or a Charles Bronson serial. Yeah, spritual even without the mentions of being so. Thanks!
posted by buzzman at 5:29 PM on September 28, 2008


Not every tree in the forest is perfectly beautiful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


True, brandon, but to complete the analogy, heavy pruning makes for growth.
/cheesefilter
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:34 PM on September 28, 2008


It's one cabbie talking about himself, when the actually interesting story is the only other protagonist. Who cares about you, cabbie?

Literary analysis aside, I think you missed the point of the exercise.
posted by Adam_S at 5:36 PM on September 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


UNLEASH THE MOTHERFUCKING MOONWALK!
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:41 PM on September 28, 2008 [11 favorites]


It's one cabbie talking about himself, when the actually interesting story is the only other protagonist.

I'd disagree. He makes a point of describing how other cabbies might behave and then doesn't do those typical things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on September 28, 2008


There it was: your moment of Zen.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 5:45 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or two hours of Zen.
posted by wendell at 5:47 PM on September 28, 2008


What a drag it is getting old.
posted by any major dude at 5:50 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


It beats the alternative.
posted by scottymac at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2008


simply lovely.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:59 PM on September 28, 2008


A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor's office. "Is it true," she wanted to know, "that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so," the doctor told her.

There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, "I'm wondering, then, just how serious is my condition, because this prescription is marked NO REFILLS."
posted by netbros at 6:00 PM on September 28, 2008 [46 favorites]


There was only one set of footprints.
posted by plexi at 6:04 PM on September 28, 2008 [20 favorites]


He ain't heavy.
posted by buzzman at 6:07 PM on September 28, 2008


“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

Well, isn't he great.

glurge glurge glurge glurge
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:08 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


There was only one set of footprints.

Ah, plexi: it was then that we played that hopping game.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:09 PM on September 28, 2008 [21 favorites]


Now all my worries about the economy, Sarah Palin, Russia, and China are but dim memories, replaced by Chicken Soup for the Taxi Driver's Soul.

Aren't we supposed to be too snarky for this kind of Reader's Digestism?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:17 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


This post just killed Garrison Keillor.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:26 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Old Lady: Jesus, man, can you change the station?
Kent Nerburn: Fuck you man! You don't like my fucking music, get your own fucking cab!
Old Lady: I've had a--
Kent Nerburn: I pull over and kick your ass out, man!
Old Lady: --had a rough night, and I hate the fucking Eagles, man
posted by hal9k at 6:42 PM on September 28, 2008 [17 favorites]


I never thought I was the cynic here but that was too syrupy for my taste.
posted by liquorice at 6:49 PM on September 28, 2008


Ah, Metafilter. Just when I think I enjoyed something, I can come here to find out how wrong I was.
posted by LooseFilter at 6:49 PM on September 28, 2008 [110 favorites]


This post just killed Garrison Keillor.

Oh, sweet jesus. If only.
posted by god hates math at 6:49 PM on September 28, 2008 [14 favorites]


On a less snarky note, I think those criticizing this as an object, i.e. a piece of writing, really are missing the point. It is intended to remind the reader that mundane acts of empathy and compassion can be among the most significant things one can do. If it fails in the technical execution of the written parable, that should not be conflated with the strength of its message.

(I mean, really, I see some of you guys sitting at the back of the crowd a couple thousand years ago saying "who in their right mind would build their house on sand anyway? That's stupid, no one would do that, this Jesus guy makes no sense.")
posted by LooseFilter at 6:55 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't criticize it as a piece of writing, i'd criticize it as a self-aggrandizing exercise in narcissistic spiritualism.
posted by storybored at 6:59 PM on September 28, 2008 [15 favorites]


on preview, plexi rocked the thread. :)
posted by storybored at 7:01 PM on September 28, 2008


Loosefilter: I don't know about snarking Christ. Jesus was way cool.
I'd snark Matthew, though, no question. Uncritical parable-ist fanboi, AMIRITE
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:03 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


An excellent post, and a poignant story. Thank you so much for this little bit of light during a dark time.
posted by dbiedny at 7:07 PM on September 28, 2008


sweet.
posted by arnicae at 7:11 PM on September 28, 2008


Uncritical parable-ist fanboi, AMIRITE

Still giggling at that.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:16 PM on September 28, 2008


It was a nice story, but oversold by trying to be too meaningful. Let the story do the work, man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:17 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm seriously starting to hate you bitches.

Didn't your mamas teach you that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all? For real, it's a *really* good rule to live by.

Assholes.
posted by tristeza at 7:18 PM on September 28, 2008 [15 favorites]


Wait, why was she going to the hospice at 2:30 in the morning?
posted by amro at 7:24 PM on September 28, 2008 [12 favorites]


I guess I kind of enjoyed the story for what it was, but I kept wondering why the old lady was leaving for a hospice at 2:30 in the morning, other than to add atmosphere to the tale.

Why not add "an owl hooted as I walked up to the door" or "in the distance, a dog howled mourfully at the moon"

Shit, I wasn't going to be snarky.
posted by longsleeves at 7:24 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the cab ride I'll never forget: my friends and I hailed down a cab, I slid in first, and my friends followed. "Meatpacking District, 14th and 9th!" And off we went. Mere seconds into the ride, a pungent odor began to take hold. In unison, we all stared at each other in disgust and looked around for the source. And there it was: a fresh coat of vomit on the seat I was occupying. We yelled at the cab driver to pull over, cussed him out for not saying anything, and stormed out (we had driven only two blocks, and the guy didn't make a fuss). I had a thick film of vomit all over the back of my shirt-tail and pants, so we just walked down Washington St. with me muttering, "Ugh, fuck. Fuck me. Ugh." until we came across a hose. I felt so nasty I had my friend turn it on and hose me down.

I was wet, but at least not covered in vomit.

I thought the ordeal was over, but after hailing another taxi and making our way to the clubs, I found myself dancing with a cute girl I had convinced to buy me a drink. She put her hands on my ass, quickly pulled away, and asked, "Why is your ass wet?" Before I could say anything...she smelled her hand! "Ewww! You sat in vomit?!" I guess the residue had made its way into the fibers, and she slinked away from me and went back to her group of friends. But hey, at least I got a free drink.

I went to the bathroom and started dabbing the seat of my pants with paper towels. I rubbed the back of my hand against the area and sniffed the results. Still damp vomitosis.

I got really self-conscious and insecure, and I told my buddies we had to jet. We went into a ritzy hotel/nightclub, where (thank God) the bathrooms had machine hand dryers. I put my ass up against the hot air and kept my elbow rested against the button. 15 minutes. Finally, no smell. But there was a cakey residue. Didn't matter, no smell!

I went and joined my friends at the roof/club/bar, and I bought them a couple rounds for being so patient with me. I turn around and who has just walked in? That same girl who walked away from me. I'd been watching a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I did the Larry David thing and walked up to her, "Feel my ass! It's dry!" She and her friends gave me the most bizarre look and walked on.

That is the story of the cab ride I will never forget.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 7:36 PM on September 28, 2008 [42 favorites]


Wait, why was she going to the hospice at 2:30 in the morning?

Maybe she's been putting the decision and finally decided at 2:30 in the morning.

Maybe she didn't want to do it during the day when others could see her.

Maybe that's when she finished packing up the house and didn't want to stay once she was finished.

Maybe she's a night owl.

Why at 2:30am? Hell, if you're going to the place you believe you're going to die at, why not?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some of you have the heart of a slumlord.
posted by nola at 7:53 PM on September 28, 2008 [11 favorites]


I thought that was a great story.
posted by Ostara at 7:55 PM on September 28, 2008


Jeez, that made me cry.

The cab ride I'll never forget is a much lighter story. I was taking a cab to the shop to pick up my rust bucket which had recently left me stranded on the freeway for the umpteenth time. I was broke because of this car and because of health issues and life in general, and I was dreading the upcoming repair bill. All of it was sort of the last thing I needed after a string of seriously bad luck. I didn't need a cab fare either, but I didn't have much choice.

Still, it was the cab driver who spent the ride telling me his life story. Summary: he'd been more successful at one point in his life but had fallen on hard times that were his own fault, and he was driving cabs to get by but had gotten to like it, and it kept him out of trouble.

I don't remember saying anything particularly profound in our conversation, and he didn't know anything about mine except that I was picking up a car, but when we got to the shop, he said I didn't owe him anything. He said, "You have the mechanics to worry about. It was just nice having someone listen to me. Most people don't, really. So, thank you."

I didn't think I had really done anything that special by listening to him, but maybe I did. He may not think he did anything special by not charging me, but he definitely did. And whether or not I needed the money, it was probably the only time I've ever gotten a warm fuzzy feeling out of a cab ride.
posted by katillathehun at 8:00 PM on September 28, 2008 [14 favorites]


Ugh, normally i'm a sentimental wuss who cries at Visa commercials, but this story made me gag a little.
posted by Ugh at 8:03 PM on September 28, 2008


I went and joined my friends at the roof/club/bar, and I bought them a couple rounds for being so patient with me. I turn around and who has just walked in? That same girl who walked away from me. I'd been watching a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I did the Larry David thing and walked up to her, "Feel my ass! It's dry!" She and her friends gave me the most bizarre look and walked on.

That is the story of the cab ride I will never forget.


You sir are a born storyteller!
posted by storybored at 8:03 PM on September 28, 2008


I came here prepared to snark, but I'm ... I'm ...

*tear falls from one eye*
posted by jayder at 8:10 PM on September 28, 2008


wow, I didn't expect these kinds of comments. Probably the only time I've regretted reading the comment thread after finishing the initial FPP link.
posted by Auden at 8:13 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jeez, that made me cry.

Just because something makes you cry doesn't make it true, or real, or good. This is not intended as a slag. But truth is, we've all got a sentimental, nostalgic side that can be manipulated and exploited. This is what good political speech writers and advertising types do all the time.
posted by philip-random at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


You know, there are plenty of good stories out there about compassion and empathy. This is not one of them. Sorry. Glurge. Chicken Soup for the Wannabe Cab Driver's Soul.

Glurge from a motivational-speaker type guy, too. Makes me wonder if this cab ride is any more realistic than the ones Thomas Friedman takes.
posted by emjaybee at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Didn't your mamas teach you that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all? For real, it's a *really* good rule to live by.

Then live by it. It's pretty clear not all of our mamas taught the same curriculum (fortunately?).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:18 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Probably the only time I've regretted reading the comment thread after finishing the initial FPP link.

You must be new here.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 PM on September 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


/r/ rule 34 on old lady.

...

Oh sorry, with all the thread pissing I thought I was somewhere else.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:21 PM on September 28, 2008


> Most everyone who gets into a cab after 2:00am is looking for something...

A ride home?
posted by you just lost the game at 8:23 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I seriously don't know what the fuck is wrong with some of you people.
posted by puke & cry at 8:25 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an asshole: Yeah, that was me who left that on the seat, sorry.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 PM on September 28, 2008


The good stories here are obviously outweighing the cynical smegma.

My only taxi story is a cynic's tale though. The cabbie that took me back to LaGuardia was the only crook I encountered in NYC during my first trip there, alone at age 20, on a trip that featured me wandering lost and out of place through the "WRONG" neighborhood late one night.

It takes all kinds, as the man said.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:26 PM on September 28, 2008


Dear Zen Moments,

I never thought I would be writing to you, but last night I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:28 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why is it thread pissing because some people weren't moved by the story? When was Metafilter ever about only posting positive comments? No one is telling you that you can't enjoy that story or even cry. Yet those that did enjoy it feel this need to pass judgment on those who found it tacky as if they have some sort of defect.

It's someone's opinion and it's valid even if you don't agree with it.
posted by liquorice at 8:28 PM on September 28, 2008 [11 favorites]


A sweet, personal story about a brief experience of one-on-one compassion.

Too bad there's not more MeFites so cynical about politics.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:31 PM on September 28, 2008


> Too bad there's not more MeFites so cynical about politics.

You must be new here, too.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:36 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, this reminds me of the time I ran a tobacco shop in Brooklyn. This black kid comes in and starts browsing the magazine rack and I'm watching him from behind the counter because I figure I know what's up, and sure enough he starts stuffing copies of Razzle down his pants. So I jump out and chase him from the store, and I'm running down the street after him but my three-pack-a-day habit hasn't left me with the lungs I used to have and I can't catch up, but I notice that he dropped something from his pocket, so I stagger over and pick it up. Turned out it was the kid's wallet, with his driver's license, a couple bucks, some old photos. I threw the wallet in the drawer back at the store and I guess I just forgot about it, until I was sitting around on Christmas day, drinking Bud, and I remembered the wallet, and, hey, I didn't have anything better to do so I figured it would be worth a laugh to go take the wallet back to the kid out in the Bronx, because his ID had his address on it, and...oh no, wait. Sorry.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:37 PM on September 28, 2008 [19 favorites]


The story was trying too hard to be moralistic. And the narrator was too egotistical: 'this is what other people would do, but what I did was so much better'.

Note for all anti-snark 'you have no heart!' commenters: critisizing a story about someone doing a good thing isn't the same as critisizing the good thing. It's great that people help each other out, but that doesn't automatically make stories about it above reproach.
posted by twirlypen at 8:38 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Oh, you’re such a good boy”, he said. When we got in the cab, he 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,” he said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. His eyes were glistening.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion."

He continued, "I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

"Time to die," he said.

I walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:43 PM on September 28, 2008 [37 favorites]


I seriously don't know what the fuck is wrong with some of you people.

I'm assuming that's a rip at the nays as opposed to the yays. Why did I not like the story. Because it moved me. I was a cab driver myself for a few years and it instantly reminded me of a few intense situations I found myself in. Did I always do the right thing? None of your business. And none of mine to tell you all about it if I did. Certainly not from the weird first person angle Kent Nerburn chooses. It just doesn't cut it. It's bad writing that trivializes the depths of human experience. I would not be surprised to see a riff on this tale (or perhaps this very version) soon immortalized by either:

a. a political campaign (probably McCain)
b. an advertising campaign (maybe some cellphone company if they can figure out a way to get their product in)
c. the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Oh and by the way, I'm disappointed that I haven't seen a "Soylent Is People" comment yet.
posted by philip-random at 8:48 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


`Tell us a story!' said the March Hare.

`Yes, please do!' pleaded Alice.

`And be quick about it,' added the Hatter, `or you'll be asleep again before it's done.'

`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,' the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well--'

`What did they live on?' said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

`They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

`They couldn't have done that, you know,' Alice gently remarked; `they'd have been ill.'

`So they were,' said the Dormouse; `very ill.'
posted by cytherea at 8:48 PM on September 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


Why is it thread pissing because some people weren't moved by the story? When was Metafilter ever about only posting positive comments?

Do you know how many threads I DON'T comment in?

Many. Many many many many many. Close to 100% of them.

Because I have NOTHING TO SAY OR ADD except, "Dumb".

Which doesn't really add anything.

So I don't say anything.
posted by tristeza at 8:54 PM on September 28, 2008


A man and his wife were sitting in the living room discussing a Living Will.

"Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all the beer.
posted by netbros at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2008 [24 favorites]


i was wearing a sombrero, a serape and brandishing a very long and brilliant sword, staggering drunk down juarez street when the cab pulled up to the curb. the driver asked if i would like to buy some heroin. "get in", he said, "there's a sample under the floormat". i opened the tinfoil packet and snorted it, and told him to take me to a liquor store. he waited while i bought some presidente brandy and a bottle of blackberry wine. we had several pulls from the brandy bottle cruising the streets of juarez well into the night. he dropped me off and i found i could walk if i kept one shoulder against the building next to the sidewalk and i headed for the old bridge into el paso. around the corner comes 2 federales and as they pass me i drop the blackberry wine and spoil their shoes and pantlegs. i spent the night chained to the floor in the city jail in my underwear and i sure wish that sweet old lady had been with me to help me pass the time.
posted by kitchenrat at 9:00 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do you know how many threads I DON'T comment in?

Many. Many many many many many. Close to 100% of them.

Because I have NOTHING TO SAY OR ADD except, "Dumb".

Which doesn't really add anything.

So I don't say anything.


Lucky for us you made an exception in this thread.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2008


I've only had one cab ride, a rushed one to catch a train in new york, but the driver was this guy and it was pretty memorable. I gave him a big tip.
posted by puke & cry at 9:13 PM on September 28, 2008


Didn't your mamas teach you that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all? For real, it's a *really* good rule to live by.

Assholes.


My mother taught me not to contradict myself from one paragraph to the next.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:26 PM on September 28, 2008


She taught me that, too.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:33 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The story? A good message, but treacly in its delivery. It should have been printed over a soft-focus sunset. I too am skeptical of its genuineness.

The cab ride? Okay.

As a visitor to Arabic culture, the most valuable phrase you will ever learn in Arabic as a westerner is "anna mish khoaga" ("I am not a tourist"). In Arabic, the word "khoaga" carries a lot of overtones of both wealth and naivete.

In Cairo, westerners are advised not to pay the amount the driver demands, as it will be exorbitant. Instead, you learn from other westerners a sense of how much it should be by distance travelled, and when you arrive at your destination, you hand over the cash and exit the cab, ignoring any protests. This usually works fine for all concerned: the driver is getting a lot more than he would from a local and you are not being fleeced unduly.

As well, it is worth noting that cabs in Cairo operate by different laws -- not a different traffic code, mind, but different laws of physics. Cabs take corners that would baffle Newton, squeeze through holes 80% of their own width, and right of way goes to the driver who honks the horn most rapidly.

My friend Andrew and I were pursued from a cab once by the angry driver, who shouted at us that we owed him more. We protested that we had travelled only a short distance. He said, "You spent a very long time in my cab."

We pointed out that the reason we had spent so long in his cab was that he and another cabbie had managed to enmesh their bumpers in traffic, and the subsequent separation led to both cabs losing a bumper; this led to both drivers leaving the vehicles, then a heated high-volume argument in traffic, and consequently a fistfight. Andrew and I looked self-consciously at each other during this, aware that we had no precepts for this: "Do we get out and help our guy? Do we fight the other guy's passenger? Do we look for a new cab while they settle their grievances?"

Hmmmm.... on further reflection, maybe this belongs in AskMe.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:36 PM on September 28, 2008 [18 favorites]


Some of you have the heart of a slumlord.

I find putting their heads on pikes to be far more effective and satisfying, myself.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:39 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, for Baal's sake, those of you who are wagging your finger at those of us who thought this was sappy, self-important glurge should pour yourselves a big, refreshing cup of SHUT THE FUCK UP.

It does not make me "cynical" or give me the "soul of a slumlord" not to get all teary-eyed at every pseud on the Internet who thinks he's written the next fucking Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

This struck me as the philosophical equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Others seem to have enjoyed it. OH MY GOD PEOPLE'S OPINIONS DIFFER! BETTER GO OUT AND CHASTISE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO FOUND IT SENTENTIOUS AND RIDICULOUS! THEY'RE BAD, BAD PEOPLE!

Well, you sure showed us who the assholes were.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:42 PM on September 28, 2008 [14 favorites]


I must say, I do HATE a good argument!!!
posted by philip-random at 9:46 PM on September 28, 2008


WOW OMG HE DIDN'T CHARGE THE OLD DYING LADY FOR HER LAST CAB RIDE WHAT A SHOCKER
posted by graventy at 9:49 PM on September 28, 2008


Thanks, Brandon Blatcher. I liked it. It was a nice example of how a lack of detail can make for much more effective writing.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:52 PM on September 28, 2008


For those who hated this story . . .

It got you.

You wouldn't be posting if it hadn't. So now the question is why you read an entire post to "zenmoments.com," didn't stop reading until the end, and then clicked back here to register your William Bennett-like deploring?

A sweet, perhaps fictional, story about a nice guy and an elderly woman near the end of her life is apparently so taboo that we need to punish the thread in which the link appears.

Perhaps the flaw isn't in this innocuous story.
posted by ferdydurke at 9:58 PM on September 28, 2008


MetaFilter: Where old dying ladies get free cab rides, and boy are we pissed.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:58 PM on September 28, 2008 [15 favorites]


Yes, but there was not a single reference to seeing God in that cab, right? Doesn't that make it better? And it still hurts me to know that some of my friends didn't like Amelie
posted by farmdoggie at 10:01 PM on September 28, 2008


An assertion that this is not simply poor but manipulative insinuates that I don't have the agency to selectively participate in my own emotional catharses. That's condescending and incorrect, and not exclusively an expression of taste. I find it boorish to ignore the distinction.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:04 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dumb.
...








Nah, that's not all my comment. I'm going to tell you about my taxi ride I'll never forget. Because I can. I choose to start this story now.
So I'd finished a long shift in the Sydney CBD well after the last bus. The driver of the cab I flagged down had no photo ID in the slot where his licence should go, and he wouldn't look at me, or talk too much. Both of which would be fine by me, except that he had no trouble communicating out his window at other drivers, pedestrians, and a whole lot of people who weren't there. Every time he screamed at one of his ghosts, little bits of spit flew out the window or onto the inside of the windscreen.
When I tried to tell him to slow down he went faster. Over the intersection at Pyrmont Bridge Road and Glebe Point Road---which Sydneysiders will know as having a decent uphill ramp if you're heading towards Parramatta Road---he hit an easy 95-100km/h and I swear there were sparks when we hit the ground again on the other side of the intersection.
As we were getting towards my house he kept telling me, in this soft voice:
"I'm gonna f*&in kill someone tonight bro. This' gonna be my last f&*in night driving. The police are gonna have to arrest me"
And so on and so on. I calmed him down as best I could, he had a bit of a cry, he told me a bit more about his financial and personal situation than I wanted to know, and he drove away from my house back to his shift slowly and carefully.
He gave me a half fare. Thanks mate, you're a f&*in mensch, I didn't say.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:09 PM on September 28, 2008


For those who hated this story . . .

It got you.

You wouldn't be posting if it hadn't.


It did not "get me" any more than that stupid "Footprints in the Sand" thing "gets me." Other things that it did not "get me" any more than: Thomas Kinkade paintings, The Christmas Gift, Anne Geddes paintings, that "Ann Landers" letter that purports to be from a teenager who died in a drunk-driving crash, 19th-century temperance songs about poor ragged children begging at the tavern door for their father to come home before little Billy goes off with the angels, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, that poster about how "war is not healthy for children and other living things", any forwarded email that ends with "And that baby was....BEETHOVEN!", the song stylings of Andrea Bocelli...


The list of things that other people enjoy or find meaningful that I find mawkish, trite, and syrupy sentimental is almost infinite.

And I'm sure there are things that I enjoy and find meaningful that other people find mawkish, trite, etc.


But for heaven's sake, don't go on with the "OH MY GOD YOU'RE JUST FIGHTING THE BEAUTY OF THIS TOUCHING STORY" because this is nonsense. I did not experience the story as beautiful or touching.

Perhaps this is because I have been volunteering at a hospice too long to be touched or moved by third-hand stories when I've seen so many close up. Perhaps I don't like the guy's writing style. Perhaps it is an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato that made my gorge rise when I read it.


Who knows? You purporting to tell others how they feel about something, though, is the height of arrogant dickwittery. Trust me, bub, I know how I feel about this. It did not "get to me" in any way other than annoying me.

And the irony of people sententiously lecturing others about the proper way to read or understand some little Zen parable is astounding. That's Olympic-level Doing It Wrong.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:09 PM on September 28, 2008 [34 favorites]


This does unfortunately touch my "sentimental" and "obviously bogus" sides at once.

In particular, I'm very very dubious that hospices admit new patients 24/7.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:12 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like some other people here, I was just looking for an excuse to tell the story of my most memorable cab ride:

I was in Orlando for an industry trade show, sharing a hotel room with a few other co-workers. Every year at this convention, one of the biggest vendors in the industry throws a blow-out, all-you-can-drink party that is legendary.

After the party, a few of us get a taxi to take us back to our hotel. We're way drunk, acting goofy, laughing uncontrollably, being silly. The grumpy cab driver tells us to behave ourselves as he's already had to deal with one drunk idiot puking all over his cab that night.

The next morning, one of the co-workers we're sharing the hotel room with tells us about his wild night at the same party. "I must have drank too much. I ended up throwing up in the cab on the way back to the hotel"
posted by The Gooch at 10:25 PM on September 28, 2008


Metafilter: your favourite story about a taxi ride and a sweet old dying lady sucks.
posted by crossoverman at 10:27 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Egads Fiasco de Gama, that reminds me (really this time) of a chilly Melbourne evening spent waiting on the corner of Swanston and Flinders, in front of the cathedral, for the tram home to Toorak. A guy shuffled up to me and asked for light, and I gave him one while remarking that I found it very odd, smokers who don't have their own lighters, and for the first time I looked properly at his face and noticed that his eyes were red-rimmed and watery and he had a tremor in his voice, so I asked him what was up, and he said he'd had enough, his defacto had shot through with the kids and he wasn't getting enough work he was being evicted and had a bunch of speeding fines he couldn't pay off and he might be going to jail and Centrelink were a useless bunch of cunts (this immediately made me believe him, because that is an unarguably accurate assessment) and the neighbours were complaining to the council about his dogs barking even though he had no dogs, and how he wanted to make everyone pay, he was very enthusiastic about making people pay, and how he was sick of people not listening to him, which made me redouble my efforts at paying attention, and he was going to go home and then go out and cause some damage.

I asked him if he had a gun and it was like something clicked in his mind and he brightened and said "Yeah, I do" and I was thinking to myself "Aw, shit" so I asked him to sit down with me and we chatted for a while and I kept trying to calm this guy down, gave him cigarettes, got him to tell me his name (he volunteered his surname, for whatever reason), where he lived, I missed a couple of trams but I didn't want this guy pulling a Hoddle Street and in the end he seemed to be okay and I suggested he not do anything too drastic, then got on the tram, and he was crying again and shaking my hand and thanking me and I was like "You're all right mate, you'll be right mate" and as soon as the doors shut I pulled out my notepad and wrote down everything I remembered, got home, called the cops. And I've always worried that maybe I got that poor bloke in even more shit than he already was. I kept an eye on the news and the papers for the next week or so but nothing showed up.

Moral of the story: Don't remind angry people about their guns, because you'll miss your tram.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:29 PM on September 28, 2008 [13 favorites]


I've been in New York City for 25 years; I have endless taxi stories.

I had the same taxi driver three times and he didn't believe me the second time.

I had the same driver twice and I didn't believe him the second time - he described what I'd been doing (I'd been tripping with this cute but all-too-ditsy blond and we'd been been wandering around in the snow storm. I'd never realized I'd never tripped in a snow storm until I got to experience those flakes in glorious 3-D).

I had a taxi driver reappear two hours later with ID I'd left in his cab, and refused a reward. His name was Max, he was from Haïti, I still remember him 20 years later, we spoke French together. About half my French practice is with taxi drivers.

Once I was coming back from the airport and the driver's cab license was missing. I pointed it out to him, quite amiably, and he said that it had been stolen (which I believed, it was obvious his cab). He described what had happened, "Some asshole just stole it when they left. Why? What good is it to them? It will cost me $150 to get another one!" I was trying to calm him down, and at a certain point he said, "No, I'm sick of this. I'm not doing this any more. I'm sorry, sir, I can't take you any further," with which he pulled over and parked. Both my girlfriend and I tried to talk him out of it - he wasn't angry with us, we just happened to be in the car when he gave up. Sad, sad, sad.

I had a taxi driver who went down a pedestrian mall (it was late at night but still) and then went through a red light with a police officer sitting right behind him... he'd stopped at the light, and then inexplicably just started up and went through it. After the cop left (it took 20 minutes) the driver wanted to get my contact info so I could say it didn't happen. As I explained, he didn't want me in court. :-D

I've managed to enlighten at least a half a dozen drivers to the nature of the military industrial complex. It isn't a hard sell for them - you have to be brutally realistic if you're a taxi driver and it's pretty clear to any rational person where the money is going.

I've had pot smoking drivers and I've smoked pot in taxis (with permission). I've had various forms of sex, though never with the driver.

I've had loony conspiracy theory drivers, including one trip with another Mefi member three years ago, and I had a scientist who was making money to finance his extremely reasonable new pollution testing scheme (involving a semi-permeable membrane and pressure as opposed to filter papers and gravity). I've only had a female driver two or three times in thousands of trips. I had an African-American driver (rare - they're nearly all Muslims and after that African, then sort of random) who was listening to 20th century avant-garde music, just because he liked it - he really didn't know much about it.

I liked him particularly, but I've liked nearly all of them. In particular, I think of Muslims as educated and civilized people precisely because of these thousands of taxi interactions with them.

(Total ride count? If you include car services, at least four times a week for 25 years :-D that's 5000 trips or about $50K or so in fares in 2008 dollars.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:37 PM on September 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


dear reader's digest, i never thought things like this could happen to me...
posted by breakfast_yeti at 10:37 PM on September 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why it was on a website purporting to be about Zen. What did that have to do with Zen? It wasn't even a koan. Honestly, I'm not sure those people really know what Zen is, and are using the word to represent wishy-washy new age spiritualism.
posted by Caduceus at 10:49 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


turgid dahlia, that is the best moral of the story I've ever seen on Metafilter.
posted by Caduceus at 10:53 PM on September 28, 2008


This day started with putting a cat to sleep. To end it with an epic brawl concerning treacle v. vomit in the context of cabs with a soupcon of Rutger Hauer CANNOT POSSIBLY BE BEATEN as a way to mourn one's bosom pal of fifteen years. Simon, I'll see you in the arms of an old lady waiting for a cab by the Tannhauser gates. Mind the fucking C-Beams, and fuck all y'all.

No, seriously, fuck you. I haven't laughed so hard in years.
posted by mwhybark at 11:05 PM on September 28, 2008 [12 favorites]


So now the question is why you read an entire post to "zenmoments.com," didn't stop reading until the end, and then clicked back here to register your William Bennett-like deploring?

Um, because it was on Metafilter? And because it only took a minute?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:06 PM on September 28, 2008


Sweet, but yes, badly written.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 AM on September 29, 2008


Then he realized his wallet kidney was missing.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:37 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who enjoyed both the story and the comments about how crap it is? Good times.
posted by grouse at 12:40 AM on September 29, 2008 [11 favorites]


I can see the link with zen, since the story is really about life as an illusion. Reminds me of The Chinese Poet, by Hermann Hesse, but that's right that in the short story, the poet himself (he's the one who's getting old) is the one commenting on the places he used to go to when he was younger. The be a good boy side is the weaker one.
posted by nicolin at 1:19 AM on September 29, 2008


Show me on the dolly where the old lady touched you.
posted by panboi at 1:33 AM on September 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


It seems to me that if you're mobile and lucid enough get dressed in your Sunday best and catch a cab, you're not ready for hospice care yet. Maybe he took her to a retirement home or assisted-living place of some sort, but I highly doubt that any of them receive patients 24 hours a day. My mother-in-law is in the late stages of Lewy-Body Dementia and lives in an assisted care facility; they don't have anyone on staff in the middle of the night other than the caregivers - no clerical staff to check patients in and the other staff necessary for orientation, etc.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:19 AM on September 29, 2008


Most memorable cab ride:

Frankfurt, a few years ago. Having flown Ryan Air to an almost deserted air strip miles from anywhere, we reached Frankfurt Airport by bus. By then, I'd had enough of public transport and was more than prepared to pay a little bit extra to get a taxi from the airport to our hotel. Unfortunately, we got the most miserable cab driver it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. There were four of us and, as I was the only one who spoke any German, I got to sit up front. I'd had miserable cab drivers before this one, and I've had a few since, but none could hold a candle to the sheer grumpiness of this chap. Despite our long journey, we were in a relatively upbeat mood, as we were on our first day of a long weekend of drinking German beer and meeting up with some old friends. However, this guy was really harshing my buzz.

I don't recall exactly what prompted it, but after several attempts at making polite conversation had been rebutted by grunts and downright angry glares I was all ready to give up, but not before I'd made my point. 'You must make a bundle in tips,' I said. Even this bon mot failed to lighten our driver's mood. In fact, it seemed to make him more angry than ever.

Once out of the cab at the hotel, and having removed our own luggage, came the most memorable moment of all. I closed the door firmly and the driver leapt out of the opposite door screaming abuse at me and accusing me of slamming the door. He started to come towards me, but thought better of it after meeting the eye of one of the friends I was with. Instead, he jumped back into his cab, and drove straight at me! My wife managed to alert me to the danger, and I jumped out of the way in time to watch him speed off.

The moral? It's probably best not to piss off angry German taxi drivers.
posted by MrMustard at 3:21 AM on September 29, 2008


This struck me as the philosophical equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

I enjoy the occasional Krispy Kreme donut, but eating them eating often isn't healthy

those of you who are wagging your finger at those of us who thought this was sappy, self-important glurge should pour yourselves a big, refreshing cup of SHUT THE FUCK UP.

That's not what my momma taught me.

tristeza, don' t ever change.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:29 AM on September 29, 2008


Did you see the extra pair of footprints running beside the cab?

That was where my coat got caught in the door as you drove off.
posted by panboi at 4:27 AM on September 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


So now the question is why you read an entire post to "zenmoments.com," didn't stop reading until the end, and then clicked back here to register your William Bennett-like deploring?

I've got to admit that I only scanned it enough to get the general idea before coming back here to snark about how shit it was, so I didn't really read the entire post, does that make it okay?
posted by markr at 4:59 AM on September 29, 2008


I found the narrator to be enormously self-centered & self-righteous.

So he drove her around for awhile & didn't charge her - that's nice. But the only reason the sound of the door shutting behind her was "the sound of the closing of a life" is because he let it be. He could have come back the next day & visited her, come back & been there for her in her final days. What would it have cost him? An hour a day at most? A couple of lunch breaks? Instead, he walked away patting himself on his back & let her die alone.

What's worse, he then wrote a crappy self-serving story spotlighting himself & posted it to the internet. Blech.

(sorry, Brandon Blatcher, I know you meant well, but this story just depressed the hell out of me)
posted by jammy at 5:13 AM on September 29, 2008 [15 favorites]


I was really expecting there to be a dead body in the old lady's suitcase. Now that would have made it more memorable.
posted by afx237vi at 5:16 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Enjoyed the story the way I would a mini It's a Wonderful Life or Random Harvest. Just soft-hearted stuff. And yes, it is good to think about meaningful moments in life. Not in a Kincaide way but in a real way. It is hard to talk about personally significant stuff without seeming to be fingerwagging or corny. Didn't think it was fiction.

But loved the bilious anti-glurge pissing contest in this thread with the hilarious and/or disturbing anecdotes. So very MeFi.

One of my favorite movies, evar, is about taxi rides, the funniest clip: Roberto Benigni - Night On Earth.

Hospice of the Twin Cities, 24 hours a day. A quick google and it seems many hospices run 24/7. Pretty amazing that.
posted by nickyskye at 5:25 AM on September 29, 2008


I've got to admit that I only scanned it enough to get the general idea before coming back here to snark about how shit it was, so I didn't really read the entire post, does that make it okay?

You're not supposed to admit it, man! Did you miss the secret mefite faq?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:28 AM on September 29, 2008


Didn't your mamas teach you that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?

No, but I had a physics teacher who told me "If you can't think of anything to say, just say 'Bollocks!'"
posted by mandal at 5:36 AM on September 29, 2008


I remember one time when I was in India, and my friend and I got into a very british, very clean, very pleasant cab. We hadn't taken a cab in India before. We had much to learn. The lesson began when our driver saw the light ahead of him at a four way intersection turn red as we approached. He responded by pulling into the opposite lane of oncoming traffic, and not slowing noticeably, make what I believe was an illegal turn through the intersection.

Regarding the story I point out that zen is when every taxi ride is like that one. If you only have one, that isn't zen. Its called "luck".
posted by ewkpates at 5:46 AM on September 29, 2008


*Kinkade
posted by nickyskye at 6:15 AM on September 29, 2008


We know you can add nicky, no need to remind us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on September 29, 2008


This reminds me too much of this. (The self-serving tone, the back patting, the dubious details....a non-emergency hospice admission at night? Without a social worker?)

I also got this as glurge spam from my mother a month ago and deleted it. And now it's on Metafilter!

I do like how this thread is going, though.

My most memorable cab ride: 40 miles an hour going the wrong way on a one-way road through Central Park....
posted by availablelight at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2008


Not every tree in the forest is perfectly beautiful.

Yes, it is.
posted by ericbop at 6:41 AM on September 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite cab stories: Went out with four friends on Valentine's Day in San Francisco in 1993. We caught a cab in the city, and the cab driver was totally fine with cramming five people in the car -- four of us squished in back, one sitting up front with him. He tried to make conversation with us, saying, "You tourist? You see the town?" We told him that we all lived in San Francisco, and that we'd seen all the sights before. He laughed and said, "You haven't seen them with me!" We granted him that, and then suddenly he made a sharp U-turn and said, "I'm taking you to Lombard." That's the famous twisty, crooked street on a steep hill. We'd all been there before, and it was totally the wrong direction for the place we were supposed to be going, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. He kept saying, "You thank me later, you thank me later."

So we get to the top of the street and he stops the cab. "Wait here," he tells us, and he hops out and surveys the hill. "Okay, no cars," he says. Then he gets back in the driver's seat and turns to us and says, "Extra five bucks and I drive 30 miles an hour down this hill." We laughed and said, "Yeah, sure!" He said, "No, no, I'm serious. Extra five bucks, I give you ride of your life." So my friend in the front seat braced herself with her feet up on the dashboard, the four of us in the back shared the two seatbelts, and he took off. I couldn't tell you if he really hit 30 miles an hour, but it was pretty damn fast. At the bottom, he was exhilarated and we were all hyperventilating. "I told you, ride of your life!" he said. We tried to give him more than the five bucks, but he refused. "This for me is fun. Have a good time in the city!"
posted by mothershock at 6:52 AM on September 29, 2008 [13 favorites]


Ooops, sorry nicky, bad, nonsensical joke.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I knew Kent pretty well a whole bunch of years ago, and while I'm not a huge fan of his writing, I've always loved him as a person; whatever you think of the way the story was told, I'm sure it's not fiction, because it's totally something he'd do.
posted by Kat Allison at 7:13 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"When I got back and spoke to the shift manager, he had no record of the call. When I told him about the old lady, his face went white. 'Those blocks were pulled down fifty years ago... to the day. An old lady was hit and killed by a self-absorbed cabbie as she tried to leave the night of the demolition. She was leaving by the first-floor window.'

Oh sorry. Halloween later, right?
posted by davemee at 7:15 AM on September 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm sure it's not fiction, because it's totally something he'd do.

That's exactly how all my best lies have worked.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:29 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Grifter! Fareless passenger! I used to drive a cab in New York, and this old lady did the same thing to me!
posted by interrobang at 7:33 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


heh... some of you are just plain unhappy, eh?

Thanks Brandon...good post
posted by HuronBob at 7:50 AM on September 29, 2008


some of you are just plain unhappy, eh?

Dude: I am fancy unhappy.
posted by everichon at 8:03 AM on September 29, 2008 [10 favorites]


I strongly second Nicky's link, it's actually very funny, if you understand rapid-fire Italian it's hilarious. and I say this as someone who generally doesn't like Benigni one bit.
posted by matteo at 8:04 AM on September 29, 2008


MetaFilter: bilious anti-glurge pissing contest

AND DON'T EVER CHANGE. This thread is (still) hilarious.
posted by mwhybark at 8:21 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


See also: Ugly the Cat.
posted by aftermarketradio at 8:28 AM on September 29, 2008


I was in the National Guard and coming off some 30 days of an active duty training exercise. I had about 3 hours to kill in Des Moines before my bus ride home, but unfortunately the plane had come in about 1 in the morning, so there really wasn't anything to do.

I took a cab from the airport to the bus station. While we were driving the cabbie said, "Now there's something you don't see every day." I looked up to see a topless woman walking down the road median. The cabbie pulled over, asked if she was all right. Her boyfriend had kicked her out of his truck in that condition. She was walking home.

The cabbie asked if I minded if he gave her a ride. I didn't, since I had time to kill. I pulled one of the OD green t-shirts from my bag for her. And we drove way the heck out of the way. I wasn't worried about the fare, since I'd just been paid.

We got to her house, she asked for my address to send the shirt back, but I told her to not to bother since the postage would be more than the shirt was worth. The cabbie didn't charge her.

He then took me to my destination and didn't charge me either. He said he couldn't take my money since he'd inconvenienced me. I tried to insist, he said he'd done a good deed and couldn't take money for going a good deed.

This was in late 80's. I was 18 or 19.

I left the above as a comment on the author's website. And for the record, no topless women weren't something I saw every day.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:48 AM on September 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


My most memorable cab ride took place back in 1990, when I was still going to school out in Pennsylvania. I was walking through a sketchy neighborhood after hanging out with some friends, not really paying attention to where I was going, when I was confronted by a couple of tough-looking guys who told me to hand over my wallet. Long story short, I got roughed up a bit and they took off with all of my money. I found a pay phone and called my mom, who was furious. (She was already having second thoughts about the neighborhood we were living in, and this was the final straw.) She told me to take a taxi over to my aunt's house, and borrow the money for the fare from her.

I whistled for a cab, and when it came near, the license plate said "Fresh," and had a dice in the mirror. If anything, I could say that this cab was rare. But I thought, "No, forget it. Yo, homes, to Bel-Air." I pulled up to a house about seven or eight, and I yelled to the cabby "Yo, homes, smell you later." Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there—to settle my throne as the prince of Bel-Air.

And that was the cab ride I'll never forget.
posted by designbot at 8:58 AM on September 29, 2008 [52 favorites]


I've read a lot of glurge, rolled my eyes and moved on. You want to know what led me to comment on this one? The little postscript on the web site:

Kent Nerburn is the highly acclaimed author of eight books on spiritual values and Native American themes. This beautiful story has been widely circulated on the web. It originally appeared in Kent’s book Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace. On 29th Sept 2008 this story hit the front page of www.reddit.com and stayed at the top for several hours. Over 50,000 people viewed it in a period of just 24 hours, and it was widely discussed. Many people said how moved they had been.

It also cured cancer, made the blind to see and gave many men who had lost all hope longer and firmer erections. I mean, seriously, appropriation of someone else's gravitas much? I get the feeling that Kent didn't include more than the barest sketch of the old lady's life because the really important thing, to him, is that he got a bitchin' story out of it.

You know what would have impressed me? Anything that would have made her more than a handy symbol. Something like... oh...

After she hugged me, she started up the walk, then stopped and turned. "You know," she said, "after all that I've seen and done... quite frankly, I'd trade the world and all the people in it--including you, sonny, sorry--for one more roll in the hay with the old man. He had a dick that could rock my socks off."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


My Cab Ride I'll Never Forget:

My sister and I were coming out of a show on Broadway. (Jekyll & Hyde with Sebastian Bach....it was perfectly horrible. There is not enough acid in the world to make the casting make sense...anyway...)

We were weak from laughing all the way through the play. (Seriously, it was so bad we were rolling at times.) So we decided the only topper for the evening would be to go to the Jekyll & Hyde pub.

Now, trying to find a cab, on Broadway, as all the theatres are letting out is next to impossible. However, as we were standing there, trying to clean the mascara off our cheeks from the tears (such a bad show), when a gorgeous, latte-colored, ringletted, Adonis who escaped from a Michelangelo statue paused his pedicab by us and asked if we wanted a ride. Now, it's a fair distance from the theatre district to the pub, and we told him that, but Adonis had the thighs for the trip. (The thighs of Adonis more than made up for the sighs of Sebastian.)

So, we climbed in. And as he pedaled down the street, my sister and I did the whole "touch the pearls, wave at the peasants" beauty queen wave (elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist) at all the folks lined up on Broadway waiting for cars. It was beautifully surreal.
posted by dejah420 at 9:02 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


My most memorable cab ride was the time I was on the Cash Cab! And, I was like, "Wow! I didn't even know I was in New York!" And then Scarlet Johanson was there.

And then I woke up.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 AM on September 29, 2008


Last year, I went to a free reggae concert at the Kennedy Center in DC. Really amazing show. The Ska-tellites were great, and Plunky was fun. Shaggy did all his greatest hits (and even got Condi to shake it a little). Wyclef Jean did a rap with the President of Haiti, got a little 4-year-old kid to do Shakira’s part in "Hips Don’t Lie," and did an awesome version of "Redemption Song." All that was worth the price of admission (FREE) for sure.

But the best performance was the unbilled appearance of Jimmy Fuckin’ Cliff. I mean, yeah, he's still alive?

On my cab ride home, I got in a conversation with the Ethiopian driver. I mentioned how great the show was, all that, and he asked me who was playing. I figured there wasn't a chance that he'd know about the artists, but when I mentioned Cliff, the driver started singing "Many Rivers to Cross," started talking about how that song was such an inspiration to him during his immigration process. Oh, yeah, Ethiopia, right? Haile Selassie, Lion of Judah, right? Of course he knew all about reggae from home, right? Nope--he said it was repressed when he was there, no Marley or any of that. Rather, he got his first taste in the early-80s Soviet Union.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:53 AM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I was waiting for someone to mention the Cash Cab.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:21 AM on September 29, 2008


I actually yelled when I realized what designbot had done there. Well done.
posted by grouse at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2008


A quick google and it seems many hospices run 24/7. Pretty amazing that.

Wow. You aren't joking! I hope it's a long time before that knowledge becomes useful to me - if at all. I'm hoping to go out pushing a kid away from under a bus or something like that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:52 AM on September 29, 2008


some of you are just plain unhappy, eh?

I'm one of the happiest people you'll ever meet, actually.

I'd be a fucksight happier in a world where people didn't lecture me for having the temerity not to enjoy the same moral parables they did, though.

I'd also be a fucksight happier in a world without Pretendians and faux-Zen glurgers, but I know that's not too much to ask.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on September 29, 2008


Also, yes, many hospices take admissions at any hour of any day. But you can't just walk in like it was a hair appointment--you need to be admitted by an actual physician, not a New Age cabdriver.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:00 AM on September 29, 2008


Hmmm. Maybe that's one lecture you should take notes on...
posted by ewkpates at 11:03 AM on September 29, 2008


That's funny, your Anti-Chrism; I always thought your appearance heralded a coming age of no mercy, heads on pikes, lakes of fire, that sort of thing. Do we not work your will?
posted by mwhybark at 11:51 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


The story is being slagged for being a glob of saccharine, self-indulgent shit, and yet the responses seems to be nothing but a cynics-only circle-jerk

Nope—there were also plenty of jokes, all of which you seem to have overlooked in your dithering hissy fit of high dudgeon.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:30 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Show me on the dolly where the old lady touched you.

Doily. Show me on the doily where the old lady touched you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:37 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: half of us are bad and should feel bad.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:08 PM on September 29, 2008


I seriously hope a bunch of you die in a fire.

You omitted: so you can sell our fillings for a hotdog and a jerk-off mag.

I hope you know that this will go down in your permanent record.
posted by everichon at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps not best of the web, but a fine moment of humanity.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:20 PM on September 29, 2008


"How much do I owe you?"
"$487.50"
"That's a lot of money..."
"Yup."
"I'm just a poor old woman with nobody to love!"
"Yup. Cash or credit?"
posted by tehloki at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2008


I still like the story, but would have preferred it start out like this:

"All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take 'em to Harlem. I don't care. Don't make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won't even take spooks. Don't make no difference to me.

"Each night when I return the cab to the garage, I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood."
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:43 PM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Fuck you all, they are the manly tears of... someone who... stubbed his toe.

Yeah.

And not because I was moved. Fuck that. I have a heart of pure rock, and nothing moves this granite block. So... stubbed toe.
posted by quin at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2008


Didn't any of your mamas teach you to flag it and move on?

No?

How about taking it to MetaTalk, did she teach you that? Look, I made you your very own trash pile to crow on.

Thanks to the people who've contributed all the great anecdotes, factual or fictional. That half of this thread has been the most fun I've had on MeFi in a good while.
posted by eritain at 3:05 PM on September 29, 2008


I guess the new Mefi meme is denouncing everything with a shred of human decency as a farce

Actually, no.

You know what's a fucking farce? Some asshole Pretendian writing a sentimental, self-aggrandizing bit of glurge about someone who's going to a hospice, and how he was so noble and didn't charge her for the cab ride, blah, blah, blah.

You know what's "a shred of human decency?" The people who actually volunteer at hospices. The people who give their spare time, love, and energy to actual people who are dying and don't have anyone to turn to.

Not the people who make up stories in which they're the White Knight to imaginary dying crones. And not the people who criticize others for not falling for the bullshit.

Seriously, sentimentality is dangerous BECAUSE IT KEEPS US FROM ACTUALLY CONNECTING WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

If you were touched by this story, then for Christ's sake, GO OUT AND VOLUNTEER OR DONATE OR DO SOMETHING TO HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK AND DYING, don't waste your time wagging your finger at people who didn't find the story touching or authentic.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2008 [14 favorites]


P.S.: I read this story shortly after the FPP was posted. I did not enjoy the story. And yet I said nothing, because I didn't think "Gee, I thought this story was saccharine and sanctimonious" wasn't a very useful contribution to the Blue.

But once the hissyfits about how anyone who found this to be crappy sentimentality MUST HAVE A HEART OF STONE TUT TUT started, then I was all over this.

Because, seriously, I don't have a heart of stone. I am a big ball of mush. If my opinion of this story varies from yours, it does not make me a bad person.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:13 PM on September 29, 2008


[a few comments removed - at the point at which you are wishing other community members to die horrible deaths you should be going 1. outside or 2. metatalk]
posted by jessamyn at 3:13 PM on September 29, 2008


At first they came for the old dying ladies
And I said nothing
For I might have Alzheimer's but at least I don't have Alzheimer's.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:14 PM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


at the point at which you are wishing other community members to die horrible deaths…

Seriously folks, you're supposed to be pining for hilarious pratfall deaths for your fellow MeFites, like:
“I hope your head falls off!”
The situation rarely warrants a horrible death, but if you believe it does, ask your union representative for assistance in petitioning your foreman moderator.
posted by blasdelf at 3:58 PM on September 29, 2008


sentimentality is dangerous BECAUSE IT KEEPS US FROM ACTUALLY CONNECTING WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

Not necessarily. Sure, overindulgence in fantasy narratives of any sort, be they stimulating emotionally, intellectually, sexually, etc. can waylay participation in good works, in "real life," but enjoying catalyzed emotional release does not, in and of itself, preclude people from being practical, generous citizens.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:16 PM on September 29, 2008


I have so many good cab rides that I feel obliged to bore you with a few

Another time, in Leon, we asked a cabbie to find us some weed. We drove around for an hour, but all his contacts were dry or in jail. Finally he took us to his home, where we smoked his grandad's pot, were offered coke, had dinner made by his aunt and watched a football match on TV. He did not charge us for the ride, but the family accepted the bottle of moonshine we offered.

A few weeks ago, in San Francisco, a limo driver saw me trying to get a cab at 3:00 a.m. and offered to take me for a cab's fare. We started talking about food and travel, and how the best food in the world is to be had in the poorest countries. At the end of the trip he did not take my money, and gave me his card. He works at the Egyptian consulate, and anytime me and my wife want, he will get us a visa and get us to stay with his family in Cairo.

In 1999 time, I was hitchhiking with my girlfriend near the Mayan ruins in Palenque. A taxi stopped and offered to take us for free. The driver used to be a geologist and an amateur archeologist, had retired, got bored an bought a taxi. We had a very interesting science conversation, and he took us all the way to Villahermosa. He bought us dinner in a "Hunters Speakeasy" (Aguaje de Cazadores). We ate deer, alligator, giant gar (pejelagarto), axolotl, crayfish (acoziles), boar, opossum (tlacuache), agave worms, fried grasshoppers and honey ants.

One time in London I got a ride in an illegal cab with an Erithrean driver. Both being illegal immigrants, we started talking about all the underground places we knew. I showed him the Applebaum, close to Oxford St., that turns into a refuge for bartenders, strippers and pimps between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. He was unimpressed by the champagne, the naked ladies and the bloody fights, and took me to and Erithrean place near King's Cross, with incredible live music, lots of dancing and lots of weed. I ate raw liver with my hands, and loved it. That ride was expensive, but completely worth it.

The point I am trying to make is that this story is stupid, predictable, narcissistic, manipulative and lame. Give me a cab drive that ends in drugs or exotic food, please.
posted by dirty lies at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


I love the cab ride reminiscing that's going on here!

The story made me feel good--because it reminded me to be mindful of the little things, and to take joy when it presents itself to you. For me today, it was the blisters I got from moving 4 cubic meters of mulch with a pitchfork yesterday.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:42 PM on September 29, 2008


Fleet manager to taxi driver at end of shift: What's this? Why so few fares this shift?

Driver: Oh, I drove an old lady around for 3 or 4 hours and decided not to charge her anything, then I spent to rest of the shift driving around aimlessly, lost in thought, with no fares thinking about the sweet old gal and life in general, ya know?

Fleet manager: You owe fifty bucks for gas and you're fired.
posted by longsleeves at 4:47 PM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hope your head falls off!

Into a punch bowl! God, I loved Bordello of Blood. That Dennis Miller sure can act.
posted by XMLicious at 6:16 PM on September 29, 2008


I've been through this dying of the elderly thing a couple of times now and I'm homing in on my third try. It's a lovely fiction, one that all of us who live alone would like to believe, that you can pack up your stuff and hail a cab at 2:30 in the morning and take your own perfectly competent and clean and sane ass to hospice.

It's not true. It doesn't work that way. By the time somebody has suggested hospice to you, you're not doing all this stuff all by your own little lonesome. Death isn't a made for TV movie where you're all fine and wonderful until the doctor turns and frowns and says, I'm so sorry, but you have six weeks to live and then you go home and sniffle a little and pack up your stamp collection and go on a cab ride and take yourself to a nice hospice staffed by angels where you lie there all shiny in clean sheets and smilingly take your leisurely leave. Death takes a lot of work: ugly, long, painful work. Death is a lot like birth: it comes with fluids and labor and anguish and pain and hallucinations and loss and it takes more time than you can imagine and none of that time is pretty.

And hospice takes reservations. Your doctor and your family make them for you and it's rare as hell that anyone is wandering in there off the street at 2:30 in the morning. I wish it was true, because it would make my own banal cab ride stories - and then the old lady who said she'd pay half the fare from LaGuardia went into her exclusive Gramercy park apartment and never came out again! - so much better and my much more painful death stories less true. But those stories are true and this one isn't. Sorry.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:28 PM on September 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


My most memorable cab ride took place during my university years. I was working all kinds of late shifts to pay the bills, and the company I worked for would pay for cab fares home after midnight, in the interests of employee safety.

Finishing work one night at 2am, I had the security guy call a cab for me. Bedraggled & weary as I was, it took some minutes before I noticed that the cabbie was a tall, statuesque redhead, wearing nothing but a tiny miniskirt & a boob tube.

Before I could ask why on earth she was dressed like that, she turned to me and asked "Hey, do you mind if I pick up a couple of my girlfriends? I wasn't planning on taking any more fares tonight, as we won a competition for an all-expenses-paid weekend in the penthouse of the Hilton, so I was heading that way to party with my friends when your fare came up on the radio & I thought, hell, why not?"

To my surprise, her girlfriends were even hotter than the cabbie herself, and climbed eagerly into the back seat of the cab with me, brandishing bottles of champagne and little baggies of cocaine...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:40 PM on September 29, 2008


Please don't stop the great cab stories, I'm really enjoying them!

It's a nice story, the old lady and the cabdriver. But, in looking into this story, it has appeared on Snopes message boards since 2001. Now, Snopes doesn't say that the story isn't true, but it always starts with, "Twenty years ago..." Yet the author wrote it in the late 90's. And his website says he drove a cab in the late 80's. The dates just don't add up well.

Maybe he just isn't too precise in his memory, but...it seems fishy to me.

I know I am jaded and cynical by nature, and I could be wrong.

But maybe some of you shouldn't be quite so quick to jump on those who are suggesting it's just a self-aggrandizing, emotionally manipulative anecdote, either.
posted by misha at 6:50 PM on September 29, 2008


Reminded me of warmed over Auster. I kept thinking of the film version of Smoke, where Augie tells the story of the blind old woman and the Thanksgiving dinner. Auster, I like. This, not so much. The bullshit meter was buried when the confluence of 2:30 am and hospice came together.
posted by klangklangston at 7:11 PM on September 29, 2008


I can't believe this isn't a double. But darned if I could find it earlier on the blue. But man, probably a dozen people have sent this to me over the years. It's probably been around for 10 years.
posted by nightwood at 7:20 PM on September 29, 2008


Didn't your mamas teach you that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?

No, but I had a physics teacher who told me "If you can't think of anything to say, just say 'Bollocks!'"


I had a physics teacher who told us that if we couldn't solve an equation, the correct answer must be "G-d."

Honestly, I think "G-d" was the answer to most of the questions on the final exam, but my teacher begged to differ.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:58 PM on September 29, 2008


Error 404 - Sorry - the page you were searching for does not appear to be here.....
posted by defc0n1 at 12:05 AM on September 30, 2008


How zen
posted by dirty lies at 12:13 AM on September 30, 2008


My most memorable cab ride was in Sydney. I was there for a graduate Software Engineer job interview, fly in fly out, and the company paid for a taxi to and from the airport. On my way back to the airport, my driver was an Indian immigrant who had just graduated in software engineering from one of Sydney's overseas student factories and was applying for permanent residency. He told me how there was this one really hard course that most students failed, and so he and some friends (~six guys?) had moved to the Gold Coast campus for a semester to take the course there, because classes were much smaller and they figured they could do a deal with the lecturer up there. On the first day of classes they stayed behind and told the lecturer that they had saved up $x between them and really needed to pass this course, what could they do? Apparently he had some tenants that had stopped paying rent and he said that if these guys could deal with them for him, they'd all pass. They went and told the tenants that they were renting the place now, moved in en masse on top of them for a few days until the originals cracked and left. The final exam was done as a group, and nobody failed.

In another class, somebody had a friend taking the same course at a different campus, in Hyderabad. They got a copy of the exam a few days beforehand, for about $1000. Then they sold a copy to almost every student in the class for $100 each, making thousands in profit.

The weirdest story, though, was that you needed student ID to get into the university, which was apparently just a single building somewhere in Sydney. If you turned up to hand in an assignment and hadn't got your official university ID, you wouldn't get inside (and neither would the assignment). He was very impressed with the campuses on the Gold Coast - grass and pubs and no security guards or fences or anything!
posted by jacalata at 12:58 AM on September 30, 2008


Jammy for the slam dunk.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:40 AM on September 30, 2008


My memorable cab was the time I got in, and the cabby had a tv and vcr set up in the front passenger seat. He was watching Friday After Next. I enjoyed it.
posted by inigo2 at 7:31 AM on September 30, 2008


He could have come back the next day & visited her, come back & been there for her in her final days. What would it have cost him? An hour a day at most? A couple of lunch breaks?

He also could have quit his job and decided to take personal care of her. What did you want from the guy? He did something, which was more than most. Was it it enough? If not, what is enough? Who gets to decide what is enough for another person?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2008


I do.

In this case, he should have brought her a nice cannoli the next morning.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:05 AM on September 30, 2008


Did he pull the story? I get a blank there now?
posted by pracowity at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2008


Nah, I think so much people linking to it overloaded the website.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2008


The whole page seems to be sat on by the provider trying to sell stuff.
posted by Xoder at 1:04 PM on September 30, 2008


You have crushed his little spirit. I hope you're all very pleased with yourselves now.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:55 PM on September 30, 2008


Hehe, yeah.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:14 PM on September 30, 2008


No charge.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just remembered another one.

I once left my passport in a taxi in Cracow, Poland. It was supposed to be a 1 day visit before going to Sweden, I was fucked. I went back to where the taxis congregate by the train station, and found a driver that could speak English. I explained my situation and described the taxi and driver. I was informed that I might as well go to the consulate, lost passports are never found. I told him it was a Mexican passport, who would want a Mexican passport?. This led to talking about the Pope's (John Paul II) 2 visits to Mexico, how the people love him there, how more than 10 million people went out on the streets and shined tiny mirrors on the Pope's airplanes. We talked about how Poland and Mexico are similar in so many ways and different in others. Finally he told me to come back in 2 hours.

To kill time I walked to a nearby park and wandered into a weird library/art gallery thing. On a giant screen they were playing some CGI stuff about this Chinese people in the future who live in underwater cities in the 3 gorge dam, going in expeditions to the old sunken cities. It was really cool. In a tiny room, sitting on a leather upholstered chair, I watched a video of a woman wearing a skirt and a blouse, lying on the floor, pretending to be asleep while 2 or three (can't remember) huge dogs, Great Danes or something, lick her all over.

I went back to the taxi place, and the guy had my passport. He did not accept any tips, and directed me to the hostel where I ended up staying. He made me promise to visit the Pope's birthplace. I never did, I think the Pope is just a crazy guy in a funny hat.

If I could write Polish, I would google for the story. Maybe a Polish taxi driver has a sappy story about how he recovered a devout Catholic's passport and then sent him to sleep above a torture cell. The basement of the hostel used to be used for torture during the war.
posted by dirty lies at 8:12 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older 80's sillibiz, parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids. G...  |  SpaceX's fourth flight was suc... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments