I did it!
Yes I did.
What did I do,
7:55 a.m. Friday, October 28, 2005
I ran/walked down the hallway of my apartment building, my nose scrunched as I held my breath to avoid inhaling the stale fish smell of the paint primer, which had been bothering my breathing all week.
As I arrived in the foyer, I saw the glorious yellow that signals, “Cab Company” of the car idling there and I smiled and said, Yes, to myself as I pictured my triumphant arrival at 8:20 a.m. instead of 9:05 a.m. had I waited for the bus. I’m supposed to be at work by 8:00.
A minute later, as I clambered into the back seat of the cab, I actually saw the identity of the driver and my jubilation evaporated and I silently screamed, “Nooooooooooooo!”
That scream was followed by the broken pieces of the picture in my mind’s eye, falling like shards of glass from a broken mirror.
This driver was the same driver who had brought my mom and I home from the grocery on Saturday. She’d driven way too slow, stopped at yellow, green and red lights and smoked the nastiest smelling cigar or cheroot with the windows closed.
You may ask, what’s the big deal? Why didn't I just tell the female cow to step on the gas, ask her to put out the cigarette and/or open the windows and threaten to withhold a tip as the last resort?
Well…if you know me at all, that’s not my style. I will run 20 kilos to avoid an argument or confrontation of any kind. As for speaking up for myself in uncomfortable situations? Naaahhh. Suffer in silence has always been my motto; I can’t stand being cussed out. So I normally am defeated by the situation and waaay after the moment is past and probably long forgetten by the perpetrator, I come up with comebacks or witticisms that would have suited the situation perfectly…ohh for a “Do Over” button.
But, this morning, you would have been soooo proud!
We were driving along, talking. (Well, I was talking and she was nodding and grunting. I had decided to let bygones be bygones from Saturday and was my usual ebullient self.)
“How are you today?” I asked,
“Looks like it’s going to be a cold winter…” I said, when I saw her hand disappear from sight and reappear—with—the cigarette.
All conversation paused, and in what seemed like an hour, but was probably a minute, I watched as she lit it and placed it to her lips. She took a puff, exhaled and I watched as the white cloud of smoke came towards me. I don’t know if I could distinguish, which hit me first, the smell or the fumes.
I just knew it wasn’t happening this morning.
So I quietly asked, “Would you please not smoke? It affects my breathing.” There was no response, and ordinarily, like the former shy person that I was, I would have let it go and console myself with the thought that at least, I did try.
But I knew she heard me. Maybe it was the slight tilt of her head, or the straightening of her spine…but I knew, she’d heard me. So I again said quietly, “Excuse me…EX-cuse meee?” She had to acknowledge me that time, “I asked, would you please not smoke? It affects my breathing.”
She tried the old window opening, trick, but I was ready for her. I slid my hands into my bag and pulled out my inhaler. I shook it with more vigor than was warranted so it made a nice healthy rattle. In an Academy Award winning performance, I then uncorked it and with more audible sound effects, took two puffs and returned the inhaler to my bag.
When I saw her pitch the still lit cigarette out of the window, I took that as a sign of defeat on her part, so I then graciously pointed out that she’d forgotten to turn on the meter.
Did I feel guilty about not mentioning her oversight? About as guilty as she felt running up the tab on Saturday and overcharging me. She tried to run the meter up by driving slowly, but it was a no go. As I arrived at my office, she tried to get twenty-five dollars out of me. I gave her twenty-three dollars, wished her a wonderful day and stepped out of her cab doing a mental praise dance.
It’s rare, that I have the opportunity for a “Do Over.” I thought I handled it pretty well…don’t you?