A man I do some work for with a bad back, asked if I’d meet his flight at Kennedy, offering to pay generously to help with his bags.
I would have done so anyway, played porter just to be kind, but since he more than has the means I gladly accepted the offer.
It’s 4 a.m., I hail a cab that pulls up to the curb like a bright yellow chariot.
A hardy, African American man behind the wheel says, like in the movies, “Where to lady?”
“Kennedy, will you take me?” Even though it’s against the law to say no, sometimes they just don’t want to go that far, but he says, “Sure, get in.”
I then ask if he’d please stop so I can get coffee, “for the both of us,” I say, “my treat.”
Mac, the name gleaming off the dash, looks at me curiously, but agrees. I hop out at an all-night bodega on Third, and get us two cups of an inky blend and two buttered hard rolls.
He says, “I’ll wait with ya if ya want,” even after I pay him.
Come to find out, Mac lives in Queens not far from Kennedy with his wife Cecily and their two kids, Marvin and Lily, a German Shepherd called Mandela, and a cat named Trix. “Ya know, like the cereal,” he says, “ma kids named her.”
He goes to DeVry University during the day and drives all night so Cecily can be a stay-at-home mom.
“That’s what’s wrong wit families that don’t plan right,” he says, “the kids…they gotta have somebody home or ya know they’ll get in ta some kinda trouble. Theys’ kids.”
Come to find out we’re both readers, To Kill a Mockingbird his favorite book. He doesn’t drink, drug or swear in front of his children.
He sends his mother money, back in Belize.
He then says, “Ya know lady, I’ve been drivin this cab for 11 years, and no one ever bought me a cuppa coffee ba’fore.”
“Really?” I say, kind of surprised. “Well ya know Mac, maybe you’ve just been pickin up the wrong people.”
“Yeah,” he says, smiling, “maybe so,” as we silently finish our coffee, and eat the last of our rolls.