Have you ever have had one of those days where everything that could go wrong seems to go wrong? Mine began with a 4.30am rise for a 6am fight to Brisbane, necessary because I had missed my flight the previous afternoon. The meetings in Brisbane went well, but when I arrived at the airport it all started falling apart. My flight was delayed, first for an hour, then for a second hour. When I finally arrived back in Newcastle it was 10pm, the airport was closing, and I managed to lock my keys in the boot of my car. The spare set were in Sydney, so I called a locksmith, waited 40 minutes in the freezing cold for him to arrive, only to discover that, after 30 minutes of trying, he couldn’t break in.
So I called a taxi. Another 20 minutes waiting in the cold. When the cab arrived I eagerly jumped in. Within 10 minutes I discovered that the eccentric and chatty cabbie was none other than the Newcastle leader of a minor Christian political party who had tried to shut down an election forum I had MCed a year or two previously. I don’t think he twigged as to who I was but I recalled clearly the hour long phone conversation, the threats to go over my head and the subsequent attempts to do so. As we traveled towards my home I was regaled with his political theories, his opinions on what was wrong with the economy, and when he found out I was a fellow Christian, with his history in churches.
We were 15 minutes into the trip home when the cabbie informed me he had a dilemma. Coming to pick me up had made him late to pick up three disabled people in wheelchairs from Wallsend Diggers. Would I mind if we stopped there on the way?
How could I say no? So I hopped out at Wallsend Diggers, while one by one, the cabbie loaded them and their wheelchairs into his specially fitted cab and transported them home. Only when all three were finished did I arrive home, well after midnight. That was one crazy trip!
But I’m glad I took it, for in a strange kind of way I was immeasurably enriched. The cabbie, who I had only known through the lens of a terse exchange some 2 years previously, turned out to be a fascinating human being with an amazing story and a warm and generous heart. Despite our differences on politics that cab trip had, in some strange fashion, allowed a forging of a common bond, an appreciation of each other. He turned out to be so much more than the one dimensional figure I had reduced him to. I was particularly struck by the way he greeted his wheelchair bound clients with a huge smile, a cheery word, and a genuine enthusiasm to serve them. For him driving his cab was more than a job; it was an opportunity to share the love of Christ with every client he transported.
It was a reminder to me that human beings are never one dimensional. We are fractured and flawed, and even eccentric; we all have a story to tell that makes us unique and interesting; and we can all be vehicles of grace as that cabbie was to me and his wheelchair bound clients that night.
A disastrous day? Yes, but one I would gladly have over again.