To the Woman Whose Cab I Stole

Ryan poses with the certificate, his teammates and coaches, and the mayor and town council members. (Note - I have blurred the faces of the other children and coaches.)
Ryan poses with the certificate, his teammates and coaches, and the mayor and town council members. (Note – I have blurred the faces of the other children and coaches.)

So I stole a cab from a woman at our local train station Tuesday. Well, not exactly “stole” — she and I approached the only cab in sight at the same time from opposite sides, but the driver made eye contact with me first.

I’m sorry. I should have apologized. I should have been more chivalrous. This is not my normal M.O., I promise.

But I was desperate.

You see, Ryan’s hockey team was being honored by our mayor at the town council meeting for winning its fall-league championship, and I really wanted to be there. I had literally sprinted from the office to make a train an hour earlier than the one I regularly take.

And the logistics were already complicated. That’s because I needed Veronica to pick me up, and drop me down the street at the mechanic, where our other car sat, waiting to be picked up. A flat-tire on Sunday — that kept Ryan from attending my adult-league hockey game, much to his disappointment — had turned into four brand-new tires on Tuesday. It was that kind of day, and that was before I realized I forgot the spare key, necessitating the rendezvous with Veronica.

As long as the train was on time, it was going to be fine. She’d have time to pick me up, give me the key, drop me at the mechanic, go get Ryan, and all meet at the ceremony at Town Hall.

Except the train wasn’t on time. At first it was just a random slowdown and apologies from the conductor about being held at a stop signal. I nervously eyed the time and started exchanging texts with Veronica. We didn’t have much time to spare.

Then the next announcement mentioned “police activity” at my station. People started checking their phones for an alert from the transit authority. A person had been struck at my station. Unfortunately this is not the first time I’ve been through this in my 20 years as a train commuter.

Like most of my fellow commuters, my initial reaction was not one of sympathy or concern. It was one of “how dare you inconvenience me, especially when I have someplace important to be.” I’m not proud of it. But when this happens, it can delay trains for hours. You get caught up in the opinion of the inconvenienced mob.

I don’t know what happened to the person that was struck. I checked the local news sites this morning and only found that someone was hit and taken to a local hospital. I don’t know if it was a suicide attempt. I don’t know if the person passed away.

All I knew at the moment was the likelihood of me getting to town hall in time for the ceremony was ticking towards zero, and I was not happy about it.

After a flurry of back-and-forth texts with Veronica, I told her to just take Ryan to the ceremony. The best-case scenario if she picked me up was that we would just make it, and I knew it was unfair to put Ryan through that kind of anxiety. I told her to take a lot of pictures. I hoped someone would film it.

Of course, as soon as I told her to forget about me, the train started moving again. Whereas the conductor had said everyone would probably have to exit the train in the middle (meaning a long wait to get off) in the end all the doors opened. I looked at the time and realized we would have made it, redoubling my anger.

I remembered that there are sometimes cabs that wait for the incoming trains. I checked one side of the station, then the other. No cabs.

So I began walking home. Angrily.

Just as I set out, I saw a lone taxi turning into the station parking lot. I started to jog, then broke out into a full-on sprint.

I caught up with the cab just as it was rolling to a stop. The driver had his window down and luckily for me, I was approaching from the driver’s side. We made eye contact and I asked about a ride to town hall. In my peripheral vision, I saw a woman approaching from the other side. I’d like to say I did the polite thing and either offered her the car or explained myself, but I did neither.

I got in, agreed to the rip-off price in this meter-free suburban taxi, and pulled out my phone. Google Maps suggested we could make it with about two minutes to spare.

I willed the traffic lights to stay green. I willed the traffic to move out of the way. We pulled up in front of Town Hall at 6:27. The ceremony was to begin at 6:30. I flipped the driver payment and told him to keep the change. I jaywalked across the four-lane road to the front steps of the municipal building (probably not the smartest move as the same building doubles as our town’s police HQ).

As soon as I got inside the door I saw the mayor chatting with the program administrator and several of the boys.

I made it.

And I’m so glad I did.

The boys were congratulated by the town council — which had approved the seed money to start this program as a feeder for our high-school team — and honored with a proclamation. Details of their title-game triumph were read into the official town record. The program administrator was invited up, along with the coach. The said a few words, then called each boy up to receive a copy of the proclamation.

When it was time to introduce Ryan, he said “If you ever get a chance to spend time with this kid, and he doesn’t bring a smile to your face, then there’s something wrong with you. This is absolutely the most amzing kid I’ve ever met in my life. And if you ever get a chance to spend a minute with this kid, you should just take your time with him because it will blow your mind what a great kid he is.”

So, back to that woman at the train station. I hope you got where you were going on time. But I’m not sorry, because I didn’t want to miss out on hearing that.

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