Cab Ride In Atlanta
So I was sitting in a cab on my way to the Atlanta airport yesterday, when I asked the cabbie how long she had doing this kind of work. She was middle aged, overweight, and after fourteen years and hundreds of thousands of miles, it didn't take a rocket scientist to guess that she had probably seen some interesting things.
With a few more questions, she began to tell us about herself - her likes (Atlanta), her dislikes (all the Mexican "illegals" moving in), even her deficiencies ("road rage").
Road rage? (All of us passengers did a double take). My friend Ted decided to treat it like a joke: "Does that mean I shouldn't open the glove box?" He's grinning on the outside, but both of us are paying careful attention to how she responds.
"Ah, nah, I ain't packing heat," she laughs, in her thick southern drawl. "If I was I'd probably shoot someone."
Really? Hmm. How do you respond to a comment like this? We try something relatively safe, "Well I guess we better not tick you off then." (Note to self: tip this woman well!)
She laughs again and explains that it's usually other drivers that really get her dander up. Then she proceeds to tell us how she and another driver got into a tit-for-tat one day, each cutting the other off repeatedly, until finally, the other driver rear-ended the car in front of him while yelling at her out the side window. She actually, stopped her car, got out and hollered, "So sorry you had an accident! Too bad you're going to be late now! Ha ha ha..."
Wow. This woman means business.
As we drove by the church where the runaway bride was supposed to get married a couple of weeks ago, police officers were stopping traffic to allow pedestrians to cross the road (another wedding, perhaps?). She explained to us this was why she was a few minutes late in picking us up. Not only was there traffic, but she had stopped to jaw at a cop who wasn't moving quite quick enough for her. And then she started telling us about her other experiences with police, and this is where it really got interesting.
It turns out she had gotten pulled over for speeding once, and when she was required to appear in court, her father insisted on going with her. "My adopted dad" she clarified. "He always treated me just like his other kids."
So she shows up in court, and the officer who had written the ticket was clearly unnerved at the incident. "Um, I'm real sorry about this, sir - if I had known she was your daughter, I would have just given her a warning." Turns out her dad was a ranking officer in the force. Whoops.
But what really picqued my interest was the fact that she DIDN'T mention her father when the officer pulled her over. "Oh yeah, all my brothers and sisters, they'd always use his name to themselves outta trouble. But not me. I figured if I did it, I've gotta get myself out. It's only fair if I pay for my own mistakes, that's what I figure."
And that's when it struck me. Yes, it's certainly commendable that you pay your own dues, and it's definitely fair - but what if the debt is more than you can pay? What if you owe more than you can ever earn? In a situation like that, you would want a father who could post your bond, bail you out. She had that option, but her stubborn pride kept her benefiting from the privileges that were hers by virtue of being her father's daughter. If that debt had been higher, she would have been S.O.L.
And that, my friends, is precisely our plight. We owe a debt we cannot repay ourselves. Clemency is freely available, but only if we humble ourselves and call on our Father to rescue us. All it costs is our pride...
But then we were at the MARTA station, and life moved on. Just another cab ride in Atlanta.