Sometimes I find myself so engulfed in the challenges of everyday life, that I need a real human moment to wake me up. Like a breath of fresh air, these moments help me remember what truly matters.
One night in San Francisco, this cab driver from Nigeria woke me up. His genuine compassion for a complete stranger created an unfolding of events that sort of felt like a dream to me.
The taxi driver with a heart of gold.
After a late night out with some friends, we hailed him down on a busy street corner. Six of us (illegally) squeezed into his cab; one in front, four in back, and one in the cargo hatchback. About four blocks into the ride, we came to an abrupt halt.
There was a struggle between two men on the corner.
With the cab stopped in the middle of the road, Chuka jumped out and ran over to intervene. His actions seemed instinctual.
Confused as to what was going on, we tried to make sense of the scene.
It appeared there was a helplessly drunken man being robbed by another man. Chuka pulled the intoxicated man away while securing his wallet, and then guided him back to the car where we all waited.
As he opened the hatchback and motioned for the drunken man to hop in back, Chuka’s altruism was first met with some resistance. One of my friends was not particularly keen to the idea of our cab ride getting even tighter. But Chuka’s simple words that followed softened all of our hearts a bit.
“It could be you next time,” he said.
His pure intentions rubbed off on us, and we all decided to go with the flow and allow Chuka to drive the man home safely. Our fascination for the kind soul in the driver’s seat then led to an inspiring conversation.
Chuka told us that he loves to study life. He believes we are all here to learn, and that when you help somebody, you help yourself. He said that when you make it a way of life, you do it without even knowing you are doing it.
He then told us that it wasn’t an accident that we were there at the time when help was needed. He explained how he was supposed to go on break but instead chose to pick us up. He said that he didn’t know why he made this decision, but that he just did.
Chuka guided the man to his apartment while we all looked on, still trying to process everything that had just happened.
I was able to capture some of this story on a little point and shoot camera as it unfolded. Below is a video I cut together from the ride.
For me, what made it feel so real and human was the man himself. Being from Nigeria, his English was sort of child-like, and he had this very innocent way about him.
When he dropped us off, his warm smile was met with our appreciation for his words of wisdom. And just before leaving, he looked at us and said something I’ll never forget.
“When love touches things . . . everything changes . . .”
It was the way he said it; his expression. I could feel the truth, and I could see it in his eyes.
I still think back to that night every so often. It was so surreal that it still sort of feels like a dream. Chuka’s act reminded me of the good in people. It reminded me that love is real and that it is in our nature. It reminded me that kindness is a universal language, a gift we can all afford to give.
Thank you, Chuka.
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