The bright arrival of the new day brought me a fare to pick up at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. A heavy-set woman got in the back seat, and I said, “Good morning! How are you today?”
“Not very good,” replied the woman. I figured, since she was coming out of the hospital, that maybe she had just been in for some kind of care. “I think I’m having a miscarriage.”
She asked me to take her to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, about a 20-minute ride from Arlington Heights. She was visiting her mother at NCH when she had started experiencing severe cramps and bleeding, and when she went to the ER at NCH, they told her that, since her doctor wasn’t on staff there, she needed to go to Lutheran General, where her doctor is on staff. My guess is that, since the woman’s condition wasn’t threatening her life, then there was no need for emergency transport to the other hospital.
So, I sped only as much as I dared while the woman spoke on her mobile phone with her doctor — or, at least I think she spoke to her doctor — telling of all the things she had felt going on inside her body for the prior two hours.
We arrived at Lutheran General, and the woman handed me her debit card to pay the 23 dollar fare. The credit card system declined the card. She threw a small fit, which is pointless because I didn’t decline it, technology did. I can’t make the system un-decline it. She said she didn’t have any other way to pay.
So I let her go. “Just go,” I said.
“Really? It’s okay?”
“No, it’s not okay,” I said, “but I’m not gonna be the guy who strong-arms a woman who might be having a miscarriage!”
A short while later, a little pissed off about the situation because I felt that I may have been played like a little tin flute by the miscarrying woman, I mentioned it to one of the waitresses at Mac’s, the restaurant with the best corned beef hash breakfast in America. When I got to the part about feeling I may have been hoodwinked, she said, “No. You did a good thing. It’ll come back to you.”
I rolled my eyes at her.
3:00 am. I had worked through the night, and I was sleepy. I still had several hours to go, and it was the dead hour, so I pulled into my favorite dark parking lot intent on taking a 30 to 40 minute nap… not to mention the nuisance fare I wanted to avoid that fires off every weekday morning at 3:30! I had just shifted the car into “PARK” when the dispatch computer sounded off, indicating I was being offered a fare. I resisted the temptation to ignore it, and I accepted it. Though it was rather early for such a fare, it was to bring someone to O’Hare, a ride worth 28 dollars, minimum. Good call, Tony!
The young man was waiting and eager to get started on his trip to Florida. I could tell by his enthusiastic greeting that he had been up all night packing and/or lying awake in excited anticipation for this trip. We chatted about travel, the weather in Florida, his mother, whom he was headed down to visit. I mentioned the trip to Las Vegas I’m taking in two weeks for a reunion with some of the guys I was stationed with in Germany back in the mid-1980s. My passenger seemed quite thrilled for me, and then equally thrilled and inquisitive about my military service. He asked, and I told him about the job I did in Germany.
We pulled up to the doors at Spirit Airways, and I said, “Twenty-eight dollars.”
I heard the rustle of paper in the relative darkness behind me, a good sign that he was counting out cash with which to pay me.
“Here you go,” he said, and at the side of my vision I could see his extended arm. “That’s for your Vegas trip.”
I took the bill and looked down. In my hand I clutched a 100-dollar bill!
“WHOA!” I sputtered. He was already stepping out of the car. “Sir,” I called, thinking he had in the darkness inside the car pulled out the wrong bill, “this is a hundred-dollar bill!”
“I know!” he called back! “Enjoy!”
“You’re CRAZY!” I shouted back.
He slammed the door. He didn’t look back at me. He entered the terminal. Tampa bound.
Karma. Fewer than 24 hours later. I hope her baby is okay.