I squeezed in many activities today between the hours of 5 and 7 pm. I got home, got my car, went to Target to buy large plastic containers in which to store the cupcakes we are baking tomorrow night for Lara’s wedding on Saturday, stopped at Franco and Luigi’s (13th and Tasker, best pizza ever) for dinner, picked Seth up, took Seth to the airport, headed back into town, parked in Old City and met Shay at the Ritz East for the free preview of “Shopgirl.” I get a little out of breath just typing it all.
When I got back to my car (I had a little trouble finding it, I used the stairs I went down as a point of reference, but then wasn’t allowed to go back up those stairs when I went to retrieve my car) I was really ready to get home and crawl into bed, with a book and a bowl of edamame. I turned onto the alley behind my building (so close!) and had to stop. A cab was unloading a passenger from his cab, and he was taking his sweet time about it. I started to feel the behind the wheel impatience begin to rise, but then I watched the scene unfolding behind me. The cab driver was helping an elderly woman out of his cab, and was attentively holding the umbrella over her head to ensure that she didn’t get wet. He was kind and gentle as he took her elbow, and he didn’t leave her at the door, he walked into the building with her. When he finally returned to his cab, there was a line of cars waiting to proceed down the alley, having thought it would be a shorter cut to their final destination. He ran back out into the rain and then stopped, facing the queue of cars. He gave a little bow of thanks to those he had held up, slid behind the wheel and rolled away into the night.
I imagined that she had spent the evening at her sister’s apartment across town, breaking the Yom Kippur fast, gently bragging to each other about grandchildren growing up on the west coast and reminiscing about family members long dead. I imagined that he had broken his Ramadan fast at the same time as she had broken her’s, first with an orange in his cab and then later with a hurried dinner at a Halal diner in West Philly.
Two representatives from conflicting religions, both honoring their holy days by going without for a time. Tonight they had the opportunity to come together, to offer and accept a kindness from a place that was so much more open and loving that I was able to feel it, three cars away.