A New York Story
She is beautiful; leaving the building, she tosses her shiny dark hair, her blue eyes are focused and intent. As she exits the fitness studio in Brooklyn Heights, she is met with sheets of rain. She runs through a list of options, none of them optimal. The subway stop is several blocks away, the bus will take half of an hour to arrive and she is cold and sweaty. Not one to splurge often on a taxi, she decides to spend some of her hard earned money on a ride guaranteeing a swift arrival home and a moment out of the rain.
Looking up the street, she cannot believe her luck as her arm shoots up—there is a cab with its light on and it pulls over, its hazard lights flipped on. Jumping out of the driver’s side of the car, the middle aged man runs over to the halal cart by the side of the road, purchasing some food. She waits for the driver to return, and asks if the cab is free.
“Yes Miss!” he quickly replies, as they both approach the car. She closes her umbrella, shaking off the water and drops her large bag on the backseat before getting in. She gives him her Brooklyn apartment address. He seems confused. She is not surprised. Most taxi drivers get lost in the borough of Brooklyn. The woman tells him to take a left on Lafayette. He proceeds down the street, laughing. “You will be my teacher today, Miss! May Allah bless you.”
As the car wends its way along Lafayette, the driver follows the directions the woman gives him. He asks her if she can possibly pay cash. She had been planning to use her credit card, and pulls out her wallet. Rifling through her cash and cards, she finds that she only has six dollars in cash. She tells the driver that she is sorry, but that no, she does not have enough cash for the ride. He replies that that there is no problem.
A moment later, he looks in the rearview mirror, making eye contact with the woman. “Ah!” He says to her, “I am going to turn the meter off. This ride is on me! You look much like my daughter.” She says thank you, saying that he is kind. “No,” he replies. “When I look at you I see her.”
She asks “does your daughter live in New York?” He replies to her, a hint of sadness in his voice. “No Miss. She lives in Pakistan and I have not seen her in three long years.” She wonders if he has ever returned to Pakistan, and asks the driver if he has gone back home to visit. She learns that he is afraid of flying and that the trip to Pakistan would be too expensive. He tells her that he is afraid of driving in snow, making her laugh.
They pull up to the apartment on Monroe Street. She digs through her wallet, giving him all of the cash and change that she has. The cab ride was twelve dollars and her cash is woefully short.
“May Allah bless you!” the driver says, as she exits the cab, snapping open her umbrella. The rain pelts down, drenching her sneakers. She steps into a puddle, finding her footing on the curb. “Thank you very much,” she says, shutting the door of the cab.
Unlocking the door of her apartment building, she turns around, waving goodbye to the driver. She enters the building, finding herself smiling in spite of the grey, the rain. She shakes her umbrella closed and begins to climb the stairs.