I roll up to the first pickup of my shift. It’s an address I’ve never been to before, but easy to find. I’m not right on time, but well within my thirty minute window. As I approach a woman is waiving at me. I open the door with my usual smile.
“Good afternoon ma’am.”
The woman is smiling, but it’s a nervous smile. She’s also adding a pleading charm that is very much failing to cover up her confused combination of worry and hope. The resulting energetic mix, barrages me with a clear sense of desperation. This woman is desperate.
“How can I help?” I say preemptively, and in my most compassionate tone. The greeting is obviously to her surprise, but only the woman’s eyes show this as she is already well into the start of what is clearly a prepared speech. A speech she is now failing to deliver with the clarity in which she was hoping.
“My son… your passenger, he’s not here. He’s on the north shore with his sister… my daughter. I would have called to cancel. Oh please I’m so sorry. She has my phone. I would have called. Please, I have the two dollars. I know it’s bad. A ‘no show’ is bad and I would have… ”
“Ma’am, please. Don’t worry. It’s alright. Everything is ok.”
The desperation diminishes a bit and her smile widens but the woman’s eyes are clearly at the point where they could bust into tears at any moment. I continue with my reassurance. This is a situation with which I am quite familiar albeit never before with the intensity I’m feeling here, in this moment. Possibly because I also find this woman quite attractive.
I force myself to stop that last thought in it’s tracks and in that same moment, smile to myself at the awareness of an old pattern. I so have this tendency to fall for woman in distress. And this one also fits my tastes physically as well. Oh… danger indeed.
Get back to work Brian.
“First of all ma’am, please understand that you did everything right. It’s all ok.” The woman exhales audibly. “This is not a ‘no show’ because you are right here telling me that you don’t need the ride. A ‘no show’ is when we arrive and no one is here at all. It’s ok to cancel and yes, we prefer a call but this is ok too. It’s simply a ‘cancel at the door’. I will now call dispatch and tell them the situation. It’s all ok.”
“Oh thank you, thank you.” The woman responds, bursting with relief. “Before you call them, can I ask you… would you like an avocado sandwich?”
I’m a bit taken aback at the offer. I often get offers of food from passengers and/or their family and I usually refuse politely or (if it’s insisted upon) take it and find someone else to give it to. I do this for various reasons including the fact that my dietary choices almost never are compatible with the most commonly offered local “plate lunch”. I also have usually eaten just before starting my shift.
Today is different in that I had a very light meal several hours ago and was just thinking I’d pick something up as soon as I had the chance. And… this woman was offering an avocado sandwich. I like avocado sandwiches very much. This is sounding like a good idea and she is again looking pretty attractive…
Stop it Brian!
“Actually ma’am, an avocado sandwich sounds quite good, I was just thinking… ” and before I can finish saying yes, the woman let’s out a delightfully cute little squeal and turns quickly around. She runs back into her house. I more than glance at the tight jeans containing her departing behind… very nice.
I call dispatch and inform them that this pick up is a “cancel at the door”. This causes the dispatcher to reassess my manifest because the woman’s son’s scheduled destination is in an area where there would have been no need for me to be just now, and this is a busy time of the day. They need me elsewhere. The dispatcher decides to completely redo my entire manifest for the day. This takes a few minutes and when it’s all done. The attractive woman has still not emerged from her house.
I look for her and consider driving on but hesitate. I don’t want to be impolite and besides…
“I’m coming.” She calls from inside and soon is approaching excitedly to the door of my van. She looks even more attractive now and hands me a paper plate with the sandwich and some chips and something in foil. The woman practically coos as she touches my hand and placing in it, this food she has obviously put as much effort into making to look as good as she could, in the short time she’d had.
“I hope you like the sandwich, and these chips are really good.” The woman says softly. “I put a slice of lilikoi cream cake in the foil and here… this is for your drink. Just take the whole thing.”
I take the plate. It looks good but I’m going to have to eat it right away as the cake is the only thing wrapped in foil. The drink this woman is trying to give me is an unopened half gallon carton of Meadow Gold Passion Orange Nectar. Good stuff but too much for me. And way too much sugar.
“The plate looks great thank you so much ma’am.” I say “But… ”
“No need the drink.” She tries to insist and pushes the carton into my hand. “No need.” I insist back and look at her with my best look of gratitude and hope for all to be well.
“But you need a drink.” She pleads.
“I have water ma’am. No need. Thank you so much I have to go now. Thank you bye bye.”
I close the van doors. As I depart, I quickly go around the block and reach down to grab the sandwich. It’s very good. So are the chips and cake. She really was very cute. Just the right age for me and… so happy now. Because of me.
Get back to work.
I love my job.