Driving I-95 N. With Raheim.

AA2263. DFW to LGA. Early Friday afternoon, start of a long weekend, Board flashes: “Delayed“.

It’s been a long week.

Sorry about the delay folks but we were late arriving in Dallas and we had a minor repair that we had to take care of. We’ll see if we can make up time.”

He’s makes up time.

The giant steel bird, a Boeing 737-800, does a slow gentle turn over Manhattan, the Empire State Building is adorned in red and green holiday ribbons, the stage lights of Time Square light up the hulking scrapers, the grid layout frames up the streets and neighborhoods.

The plane tilts its wings softly, leaning in towards the city. Here pal, get a closer look at the Big Apple. Whaddya think, cool right?  I’m a drop of water, a drop in something so vast, so incomprehensible…

The video monitor on the seat signals 10 minutes from destination. Altitude: 8,000 feet

A text messages flashes: “Sir, my name is Raheim. I’ll meet u at Upper Level. Text me.”  I text back: “Haven’t landed yet. Didn’t check luggage. Should be ~30 minutes.” Indicator flashes: “Read.”

Miracle. All of it.

LaGuardia is teeming, travelers waiting to catch flights home.

I text Raheim: “5 minutes.”  I dodge the lingerers at the gates which spill into the corridor. I zig zag around the swelling lines at the coffee shops, the tourists at the gift shops handling trinkets.

“Hi Sir. No, please, let me get your bag. Did you have a good flight? “

He navigates out of LaGuardia and onto the highway.  He adjusts the temperature. And sips from a tall paper coffee cup.

“So, how long have you been driving Raheim?”

“4 years Sir.”

“Do you like it?”

“Oh, I love it Sir. Best job that I’ve had. Some drivers hate the traffic, and the waiting. Not me.”

“After you drop me off, will you go home?”

“Oh no Sir. I’m heading back to LaGuardia.”

“You are deadheading all the way back to the Airport?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Do you have to wait long for another ride?”

“On holiday weekends, like today, it’s slow. I could wait 2-3 hours until the late flights arrive.”

Two to three hours is midnight.

“How long you been on the road today?”

“I started at 6 a.m. Sir.”

6 a.m.? It’s 8:30 pm. And he’s deadheading back to LaGuardia.

“You ready for Christmas Raheim?”

“Oh, yes, Sir. Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays.”

“Do you have children?”

“Yes, Sir. We have a 5 year old boy and a 3 month old. I can’t wait to get home to tuck them in.  I’m driving extra hours to get them some extra things for Christmas.”  He takes another long pull on his coffee cup.

He pulls up to the house.

“We made good time Sir. Not a lot of traffic tonight.  Love all the Christmas lights on your house.”

He jumps out of the car. Grabs my bag. “Have a Merry Christmas, Sir.”

“Raheim, wait.”

“No Sir. The tip is included in the Fare and you’ll be billed.”

No Raheim. Wait.”

“Sir, that’s not necessary.”

“Wait Raheim.”

He reaches for my hand, takes a firm grip, squeezes, and pumps it up and down, all the while never breaking eye contact.

“Thank you Sir. Thank you. Happy Holidays to you Sir.”


Notes: Photo: Mid Century Manhattan, Todd Webb. Writing Series: Commuting


  1. Very nice, Mr. K, very nice….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your life stories, David… So many are so different to ours, yet we can connect with them on a ‘soul’ level; probably the best connection! That’s what you do, David.
    Have a wonderful Festive Season. I’ll check back in when the clock chimes 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely read, David 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are the people that make North America great!! A wonderful story. Have a very Merry Christmas!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So agree Darlene. Your thought and Raheim reminded me of:


      “My goal in life is to be one of those people who are just light. You see them and you suddenly feel so warm inside and all you want to do is hug them. And they look at you and smile with the warmest light in their eyes…. and you love them. maybe not in a romantic way but you just want to be close to them and you hope some of their light transfers onto you.”

      Liked by 6 people

      • It is my goal as well… I so wish to be light to others

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I saw the dove come down, the dove with the green twig, the childish dove out of the storm and flood. It came toward me in the style of the Holy Spirit descending. I had been sitting in a cafe for twenty-five years waiting for this vision. It hovered over the great quarrel. I surrendered to the iron laws of the moral universe which make a boredom out of everything desired. Do not surrender, said the dove. I have come to make a nest in your shoe. I want your step to be light.”
        — Leonard Cohen

        Liked by 1 person

  5. How tender, and special! God Bless you for your generosity, and may this holiday give you rest, joy, and pleasure, building memories to look back on, with nostalgia! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely…yet my heart hurt too. So much decency and humility and dignity in one man, grateful for the holiday lights. Lessons from the universe? I think so.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, Well, ahem, I’m crying. Yes I am. Because I know exactly what you’re writing about here. The true humanists, the people with heart and soul and kindness, most of them are devalued in our culture. Yet, they’re the people who keep our culture rolling along. I was with you on that plane (just returned from a Logan/Chicago/SFO trip) and on the transformative beauty of what we see outside our plane window. I will NEVER understand the people (and it seems the majority now) who board the plane and immediately pull down the window shade. [ACK. Look OUT, PEOPLE!!! LOOK at the miracle below us. Downsize your ego and realize you’re just a speck.]
    Well, you got me started. I’m going to wipe my eyes and go shake the hand of someone marvelous ‘out there,’ today. They’re there, shoveling our walks, driving us to the train/airport, cleaning our houses. Thank you, David.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. You have the best “humanity” encounters, DK. Blessed, the both.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You draw us in with every single word, David…you’ll be famous someday, keep collecting these stories and then share them with the rest of the world when you’re ready. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. what a great story, and so well told. thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. At the family homeless shelter where I work, yesterday was spent working with volunteers and staff putting the final touches on Christmas. Wrapping gifts. Preparing the ‘family bags’ so that each child and adult was sure to have something special, just for them, under the tree on Christmas morning. It was a joyful and heartfelt day, with donors dropping off last minute cheques and gifts and children and parents streaming in and out the door. No time is a good time to be in an emergency shelter, and Christmas is extra hard.

    We do our best to lighten the darkness so that homelessness does not feel hopeless.

    And then, late yesterday afternoon, I received an email from one of our team that let the light stream in through every crack to illuminate the miracles all around.

    Earlier this week, we opened the doors to a 10 suite – 3 bedrooms — apartment building we had the resources to purchase and renovate — because of generous donors. Yesterday, the first family moved in, and this is the gift the email held: “This Christmas … three children will open their gifts in their own home, two parents will be able to provide a Christmas to their family in their own home, and one baby’s first Christmas will NOT be in a shelter.”

    Your post reminds me of the magic and wonder all around.

    It is the gift of working at a family homeless shelter. There are miracles all around. Every day.

    Merry Christmas. Wishing you a blessed and joyous long weekend willed with small miracles all around, where ever you are.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.
    The light from reading this felt like warm honey.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Those drivers sure work hard and they have to drive all sorts of kooks around. Dangerous job. Long hours. That was a very nice thing you did. No, I didn’t mean you were one of the kooks. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. so beautiful on so many levels. i think you should create transportation diaries and now that i think about it, you already are )

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful! For all of the bad news these days, this warms my heart David.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sweet and wistful tale of someone whose priorities are clearly in order. What a teacher for us all. Aloha, David, and all the best in the New Year! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Ahhh… I love when I see “…I-95…” in my emails. I know it will be one of your personal, wonderfully expressed stories…
    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This.is.truly.heart.breaking…..
    The Raheim’s of this world should get wings… They are the gold of the streets.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Love this post David. Love it when you tell us about your experiences. Magical. I hope you had a lovely weekend with your family

    Liked by 1 person

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