Yes, random acts of kindness happen even in LA. So this morning I had to take my car in since the hit and run back in August. Ignore the fact that I'm almost four months behind on this task. Anyway, so I took it in to the body shop, then called a cab to take me to Avis so I could get a rental. Within 10 minutes a cab driver picks me up; as I got in he asked me what happened to my car. I explain that it was hit & run several months ago and no, I never saw the guy.
That bastard! my cabby exclaims. My wife was hit and run last week. Those drunks... he muses.
He's either really empathetic or just wanted an excuse to be pissed. No matter, I'll take it.
So we're driving and he's telling me about his successful sons, his lucrative contracting business that went belly up after he hit THE Mike Tyson with a pole (a very sad yet oddly funny story), and his two Russian university degrees (journalism and sports-something-or-other). I'm paying attention, really, when I realize I don't have my wallet. I start to panic. Holy shit I'm going to Argentina in two days and my wallet's gone! Holy shit how am I going to pay the cab fare?! I have no more checks, Renee's at work, oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do?! I scroll through the last time I used it -- last night when I paid for parking. Did I leave it in my car, now decommissioned at the body shop? Did I leave it in the parking lot last night? Is it at home? I had NO idea, and my cabby sensed my despair. He had lost his wallet last month in Vegas with $3000 cash and all his credit cards. 3000 Dollars?! I'd have completely lost it. Anyway, he takes me to my house where I finally find it hiding under a blanket in my living room. (Oh yeah, I paid for another improv class last night. Duh.) I get back in the cab and now need to go to a cash machine before the Avis. He dutifully takes me. When we finally get to Avis, my fare is $21-something. I have $40 from the ATM. I ask for $15 back. He tells me to just give him a 20. THIS MEANS: not only would he NOT accept a tip, but he was accepting less than the fare. We're only talking 5 bucks here, but Reader, THIS IS LA. This kinda stuff NEVER happens here.
We spar back and forth, I'm trying to give him the money, he's not giving in. And this is when my cabby turns into a zen master.
It's only money, he tells me. It's paper. It means nothing. You give me today, tomorrow it's gone. Those things with value have nothing to do with this paper. I felt inspired by his staccato economy of language. Newbie immigrant? Or sage Buddha?! I know not.
I finally accepted. I walked away hoping that the kindness is returned to him and excited for an opportunity to do the same. And then 10 minutes later, now in my rental car, I cut someone off on the freeway.