If God only Knew
who ends up in CAR 29… and why? - PART II
It was a pick up at the Armed Forces Base, off to the airport. Essentially, as clear across town as it gets, in this town. Waiting at the barracks, a nice fella, a bit wobbly, a helicopter pilot. I’d be driving him part way to Edmonton, his home, this morning. After a rambling conversation with a stop for a breakfast sandwich, his vitamin G enriched cure for a hangover and a valiant attempt not to talk about refugees… after shaking his hand and thanking him again for his service, I followed my gut rule, head… “back to the middle”… downtown to Zone 1.
I failed to make it all the way back into Zone 1 before the next call. On the way through Zone 6… got a call to pick up on Clergy, I turned into the campus then off to the railway station with a sweet young lady, a student, an Art History major on her way to help her boyfriend focus, study for exams in some other college town. The sweet young student and I had lovely conversation… were the Group of Seven the first Canadians to paint Canada a Canadian would? When should a contemporary Canadian artist identify themselves, say in their bio, as Canadian Artist? Perhaps if they’re painting Canada as only a Canadian could, or should? As I bid her goodbye I asked if she had a minor, a back up plan. I shook her hand and told her I was off to find a fare to the bus station… this seemed the natural thing for me to do next.
There's really no choice where to go when bolting from the railway station. I slipped into Zone 8. With no diddling nor dawdling I raced down Sir John’s Boulevard, left onto Johnson heading as quickly as I could to back to the middle, again… Back to Zone 1. As I rounded St. George's corner, left onto King towards the Market Square I heard a shout… “hey, taxi”! it's kind of a surprise for someone to flag a cab on the street in Kingston. I stopped short, backed up… In jumped a big fella who said, “Can you get me to the Bus Station?”
This big fella was just a little surprised, taken aback a bit by the almost high five n’ fist pumpin' reaction to this simple request for a lift, from a cab. After I told him what had just happened, that he’d completed a trifecta, he joined in my celebration best he could, which as I would learn was pretty darn good considering he was on his way back to Newfoundland after a three day stay, visiting a good friend in the hospital who we’d almost lost in a car crash near Brockville earlier this week.
“Any lasting injuries…?” …perhaps a brain injury, I almost didn’t want to asked him… yup… “Well the brain does have a way of doing all it can to heal itself, learning to work in different ways my friend… your friend will be OK.” We talked a bit about driving and how I try to do it safely. Turns out this Newfoundlander was an underwater welder, works on the rigs. We had an intensely enjoyable conversation about doing jobs in hostile environments, you know, like driving this CAR here on the sleepy streets of Kingston, on the way to the… bus… trains n’ airplanes... stations... (church basement BINGO). The Holy Trinity of consecutive taxicab destinations?
After a few more fares, when things settled down, I found myself sitting for a bit in the Riocan parking lot. I stretched out of the cab and lit up a smoke to ponder the odds of the cleverly devised, GPS driven newfangled dispatch system serving me up three straight trips to the airport, bus and train stations… by 7am no less. A good day already, would get even better. By 11am all the calls had been longer trips, double digit fares with time for good conversations. Indeed this cleverly devised n’ automated, the GPS driven dispatch system was working folks well into my. Catching my breath in a parking-lot way out west, along Gardiner, the Riocan is a vast “big-box” store strip mall that stretches on forever. I felt the urge to give a little bit of thanks, even to say a little prayer, even if I wasn’t exactly standing anywhere near one of Kingston’s holiest of locations... The Riocan's big-box parking lot would just have to do.
I’ve never been much of a really religious fellow, but after easing up on some old conceits of late, say such as a silly old disbelief in a God... This morning I thought maybe I should I’d give it an even bigger shot. As I stood alone, leaning on the opened door of CAR 29. Bathed, squinting at the day's bright sky, awash in a surprisingly warm December’s low hung sunshine. I thought, let's push this giving thanks thing as far as I can. Grasping at the littlest bit of learning from all this reading, talking, thinking and meeting with good fellows these last few years, I almost spontaneously, definitely quite awkwardly I blurted out the words “If thy will be done…”
Eh hem, “If thy will be done… let the brain injured friend of the underwater welder be healed up, hopefully making his Newfy buddy very happy” …if thy will be done, let the Ukrainian bride of the helicopter pilot break free of immigration's red tape and be repatriated with her lover, her new husband here, where Canadians paint Canada as it ought to be painted, you know, where it’s just a little bit safer. If it be thy will, let our sweet little Miss Art Major find a career outside of the aisles of Costco or Walmart or… further afield than these vast n’ endless big-box strip mall parking lot stores… maybe she’ll switch to studying nursing as I jokingly suggested on our way to the train station.
If thy will be done, help the so totally drug addicted woman who bickered with her fella in my CAR clear across town find an answer to her drunken mumbled confession, “I hate this life”… allow the soon to be a mother-in-law’s overworked and exhausted future son be seizure free for a few days, at least help him keep his driver’s licence… If it be thy will, let the woman who broke out into tears as she got out of the wheelchair and laid her broken leg out in the backseat of my CAR enjoy Christmas despite having to cancel all her holiday travel plans to northern Winnipeg and… let the anxious car salesman who admitted so shamefully that, for the first time in months, he’d taken his sick stricken wife’s Oxycodone again... if it be thy will let him not have to have some cabbie like me swing him by the Methadone clinic on his way to work... too many more mornings. If thy will be done, let his young wife respond to these last few treatments and overcome her cancer and get on with her new career here in Kingston and enjoy raising their daughter… at this point I was quite certain, this was when I was meant to say, Amen... right?
If God only knew, well he’d probably know I’m really quite happy with the good folks that get put into my CAR by this new fangled and very clever, GPS driven automated dispatch contraption. How on some days, especially days when the December sun seems a bit brighter, definitely warmer that I’m thankful to be driving CAR 29… or, just along for the ride with strangers who tell me short stories of things that they’re doing or might get up to when they arrive at the places, say the airport, bus or train stations. The place in this city I drop ‘em off at or the further afield far away places I take them part way to… in Part two of perhaps three of this now, too long winded story.