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coalesce/[͵kəuə'les]/ vi. 合并, 联合, 合生 ...

A Moment of Joy 片刻的欢乐

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A Moment of Joy 片刻的欢乐
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.
What I did not realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some people who had been partying, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under such circumstances, many drivers just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transpor- tation.

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door.

This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.” “Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Can you drive through downtown?” “It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly. “Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.” I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me.

It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

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

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said... but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Take a moment to stop and appre- ciate the memories you have made, the memory making opportunies around you and make someone feel special today.

二十年前,我以开出租车为生。这是一种富有冒险精神的生活,适合那些不想受老板管制的人。

开始我没有意识到它也是一种牧师职业。由于我上夜班,我的出租车就成为一辆流动的忏悔室。乘客们爬进车里,坐在我后面,素不相识,然后给我讲述他们的生活。我遇到过很多人,有些人的生活让我感到惊奇,有些人的生活让我肃然起敬,有些人带给我欢笑和哭泣。

然而最使我感动的,是在八月的一个晚上乘车的一位老妇人。

我正在接电话,是从一座砖造的四套公寓住宅小楼打来的,位于城镇一个安静的区域。我想可能是我让去那里接一些参加舞会的人,或者刚与爱人打过架的人,或者要去城镇工业区的某个工厂赶早班的工人。

凌晨两点半我赶到的时候,楼里除了第一层窗户那儿亮着一盏孤灯外,漆黑一片。在这种情况下,很多司机都是按一两下喇叭,等一会儿,然而就开车离开了。但我见过太多穷困的人们,他们把出租车作为唯一的交通工具。

除非嗅到危险的气氛,我总是走到门前。

乘客也许需要我的帮助,我这样为自己找理由。因此我走到门前,敲门。“请等一下。”回答的是一个虚弱而苍老的声音。我能听到在地板上拖着东西的声音,过了好一会,门开了。一位80多岁的弱小老妇人站在我面前。她穿着印花外套,戴着别有面纱的筒状女帽,就像从四十年代的电影里走出来的人。她身旁是一个小型的尼龙手提箱。

这座公寓看上去好像很多年没人住过了,所有的家具都用布蒙着,墙上没有挂钟,柜台上也没有任何装饰物或家用器具。墙角放着一个纸箱,里面堆满了照片和玻璃器皿。

“你能帮我把包拿到车上吗?”她说。我把箱子放到车上,又回来搀扶老妇人。她挽住我的胳膊,我们慢慢走到车旁。

她不停地感谢我的好心。“没什么,”我说,“我想要别人这样对待我的母亲,我就得尽力这样对待我的乘客。”“哦,你真是个好孩子。”她说。

当我们坐进车里,她递给我一个地址,然后又问道:“你能从城镇中心穿过去吗?”“那不是最近的路。”我很快回答。“哦,没关系,”她说,“我不急着赶路,我就要去救济院了。” 我从后视镜看了看,她的眼睛在闪着光。她继续说着:“我没有任何家人了,医生说我活不长了。”

我轻轻地伸手关掉了计量表。“您想让我走哪条路线?”我问。

接下来的两个小时,我们开车穿过了整个城市。她指给我看当年她作电梯操作员的那座大厦,她和她的新婚丈夫当年生活过的小区,她让我在一家家具商店前面停车,那儿以前是个舞厅,她还是个小姑娘时常去那儿跳舞。

有时经过一个特殊的大楼或角落时她会让我放慢车速,她会坐在那里瞪着夜空,默默无言。

当第一缕阳光打破了地平线,她突然说:“我累了,咱们现在就走吧。”

我们默默地驱车向她给我的那个地址驶去。

那是一座低矮的楼房,就像一个小疗养院,在门廊的下面有一条车道。我们刚停车,就有两个护理员出来向我们走来。她们关切而热心地注视着她的举动,看样子一定是在等着她的到来。

我打开车尾的行李箱,把她的手提箱提到门口。老妇人已经坐进轮椅里。

“我该给你多少钱?”她边说边把手伸进钱包。

“不用了,”我说。

“你得谋生呢,”她说。

“还有其他的乘客,”我回答。

几乎想也没想,我弯下腰来给了她一个拥抱。她也紧紧地抱着我。

“你给了一个老妇人片刻的欢乐,”她说,“谢谢你。”

我轻轻地握了握她的手,便走进了微弱的晨光中。门在我身后关上了。这也是生命关闭的声音。

那晚我没有拉其他的乘客。我漫无方向地开着车,陷入沉思中。那天其余的时间,我几乎说不出话。

如果那位老妇人碰到一位狂暴的司机,或者急着结束晚班的司机,那会怎么样呢?如果我拒绝跑这趟车,或者只是按一声喇叭,便开车离开,那又会怎么样呢?

匆忙回顾了一下,我认为我做了一件生命中再重要不过的事情。

我们习惯性地认为我们的生命中有一些重大的时刻,然而重大的时刻往往在不经意时降临到我们身上--也许在别人眼中是小事,但它有着美丽的包装。人们可能不会完全记住你所做的事,或者你所说的话……但他们却会永远记住你带给他们的感觉。

花上片刻的时间,静静地欣赏一下你的回忆,那些为周围的人创造了机会的回忆,那些使他人今天仍然感觉特别的回忆。
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