Friday, March 19, 2010

Indomitable Spirit

It was back to Artie's (the deli) for my monthly lunch with Barbara. This time I did the soup and half sandwich, pastrami of course, on rye with mustard. The soup was chicken noodle motzah ball and it really was heavenly. The server brings it to the table in a little metal pitcher inside the soup bowl and then pours the soup and it keeps it warmer.

Then we shared our chocolate pudding and even sent it back for whipped cream. Gotta have that whipped cream.

I got into a cab to come home and the driver was female. Of all the years I've lived in New York and all the cabs I've taken, I believe this is only the third time I've had a female driver.

We got to talking and she was saying that about half of the transit bus drivers are female. She was telling me her work history, how she came to drive a cab and mentioned that she had been in a wheel chair for a while.

I asked, "What did you do to yourself to land in a wheel chair?" and she said, "I didn't do anything. My husband -- my ex-husband -- did it." I sort of gasped and said, "He put you in a wheel chair??" and she said, "He broke my knee and that's why he's my ex-husband."

"What made you finally decide to leave?" I asked. At first she said the broken knee, but then corrected herself and said "No, not even then." She thought about it for a few moments and then said, "When I got out of the wheelchair and saw I could walk by myself."

Wow. I thought. She meant it literally, but what a metaphor. In addition to being abusive, he didn't work and also cheated on her. Instead of cheating, she called it, "He played dirty on me" and I asked what that meant exactly.

After the marriage ended, he stalked her, ultimately breaking into her apartment and he ended up in jail for one year which tells me it must have been pretty bad. Now he's out. She told me she posts on her Facebook page fake whereabouts for herself because she believes he is still tracking her down.

I really enjoyed her, her spirit, her work ethic. She said she's been working a job since she was 8 years old. She works 8 am to 8 pm and was going out tonight to celebrate a friend's birthday.

When we got to my building, the fare was $8 and I gave her $20. I just wanted to. In my own way, it was to reward her spirit that didn't give up despite really hard times. At first she refused the tip (nicely) saying it was too much. I said, "Have a drink on me tonight when you're out" and she was so appreciative that I thought I got way more out of this than she did.

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