Praying With A Random Cab Driver in San Francisco
A few weeks ago I had an amazing experience and I could have easily missed it. It was what I like to call a “God Moment”, which is a term that I use to describe a moment in time when God gives us an experience that is so powerful that only God could have made it happen. Some of you reading this might simply call these coincidences or chance interactions, but as a believer I don’t see them that way at all. I see them as opportunities that God interjects into my everyday life that I can first hopefully notice and second can either decide to take advantage of or not depending on my own personal choice at that particular moment. How I see it is that God puts the ball on the tee and it’s up to me whether or not I take a swing.
The important thing here to realize is that I don’t have to act on these opportunities and depending on my mood, distractions, who I’m with and a bunch of other factors unfortunately sometimes I don’t. But, a few weeks ago I was all over it and when God set the ball up there on the tee I hit the thing straight out of the park. I’m not saying this out of pride or because I feel like I’m some kind of VIP level Christian who gets to experience these moments that God has only set up for me. I’m letting you know about this story because I feel like earlier in my walk with God I can almost guarantee that I would have missed the opportunity completely and I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. Read the full story below and it will all hopefully make a lot more sense.
A few weeks ago there was a conference in town I was going to, so I was planning on staying up in San Francisco for the day instead of driving down with Stephanie to Burlingame, which is where we both work during the week. She took off around 7:45am like normal and I stayed in the apartment and caught a little extra sleep before getting up and starting my day around 9am. My plan was to get up, catch up on some work stuff and then head out for a run before heading over to the conference around 11am so that I could mingle a bit before heading to a business lunch that was planned for noon. The plan sounded good and was all going smoothly until it started raining like crazy up in San Francisco. I didn’t really see this as a big deal and just kept cranking away on some work stuff and figured I could get my run in after the rain stopped. After all, it never rains for that long in SF.
After an our or so it stopped raining I headed out for an awesome post-rain run, which is one of my favorite times to go. After the run I did a few exercises for my shoulder, stretched, fed Frank some food and hopped in the shower. Once out of the shower I noticed that my time was getting cut a little short and that I was going to have to forget about the hour of mingling at the conference and go straight to the business lunch at noon. I let my co-workers know about the change in plans and at this point was starting to feel a little stressed about not getting there on time. This was mainly due to the fact that I had to take public transportation and it was going to take at least 40 minutes to get to where I needed to go. Not good.
So I’m starting to feel rushed, stressed about making it there on time and a little disappointed in myself for not getting ready earlier and for once again probably being late. For all of you who don’t know, I have quite the history of being late for things and it’s something that I’ve been working on getting better at (which only made me feel worse at this point — I thought that I had gotten better at this!?!?). I was really getting down on myself and was starting to go deep into a downward spiral of getting more and more upset for taking so long to get ready and worrying how in the heck I’m going to make it to my lunch in time. I looked at Google Maps to see when the next train was coming and it looked like I could *almost* make it to the last train in time if I booked it out of my apartment and down the street to where it picked people up. The bad thing was, even if I made it to this train I would still get to the lunch around 10 minutes late, which I wasn’t real happy with but would have to accept if I was going to make it there at all at this point.
As you can probably tell, as I’m running two blocks up a hill trying to catch a train that will just barely make me late, things weren’t going well and they were only going to get worse. When I was about a block away I saw the train go by and when it did I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that about made me feel sick. There I was, out of breath and running toward my last ditch hope to get to my lunch meeting without being too late when the train rolls past. Awesome.
All of a sudden I have about 30 minutes to get to where I need to go and the next train that takes 40 minutes to get me to where I need to go won’t be showing up for another 20 minutes. For all of you math whizzes out there that’s another 60 minutes before I could expect to be at my lunch that’s going to start in less than 30 minutes. The downward spiral continues and I start to feel even worse about the situation. I start to think about my options and the only thing that I can think of is to call a cab and hope that they can come pick me up quick enough to get me to where I need to go in time. This isn’t the best idea due to the fact that I’m in the middle of a residential area where I have never seen a cab come through before, but hey — I figured that it was worth a shot. I mean it’s not like I had a lot of other options to go with.
I have no idea what the number for Yellow Cab is so I take out my phone, Google it and give them a call. As I’m waiting for the call to connect and I look up from my phone and out of nowhere a big, bright yellow van pulls up right behind me. Amazingly enough it’s a Yellow Cab and after he tells me I can hop in I tell him that he has incredible timing as I walk around to the passenger side. I slide open the door and couldn’t help smiling as I jumped in. It looked like I might make it there on time after all. Sweet.
I said what’s up to the driver like I always do and told him where I was headed. As we start heading that way and knowing that I’m actually going to make it to my lunch on time, I decide to strike up some friendly conversation with the guy. I always like talking to cab drivers since they almost always have some awesome stories to share. Little did I know that this driver was about to share a lot more than just the average cabbie story, he was about to open up to me completely about his failed marriage and how it was completely his fault. Here’s how the conversation started:
Me: Hey man, thanks for picking me up — it’s great to see you. How’s it going?
Cab Driver: Well, to be honest things aren’t going so well. Are you married?
Me: Yep, I sure am.
Cab Driver: That’s good — how long have you been married?
Me: Almost two years.
Cab Driver: That’s great to hear, man. You need to make sure that you’re good to her. My wife left me and it was totally my fault.
Me: Your wife left you? How…ummm…why did that happen?
Cab Driver: Well, it’s pretty complicated but basically over the last year my wife did everything to love me and I didn’t give her anything back. I got comfortable, I took advantage of how great she was and I guess that she had enough if it. You ever hear of a dear John letter?
Me: Oh yeah, I’ve heard of those…
Cab Driver: yeah, well she gave me one of those. She left me a note and took off. I haven’t heard anything from her since. It’s been 39 days since I’ve heard anything from her and I don’t know what to do.
The conversation went on like this as he continued to tell me all about how he screwed up his marriage, how he really loved his wife and how he only wanted her to be happy at this point — even if that meant that she found another guy. It was one of the most open and honest conversations that I’ve ever had with someone, which is funny considering that he was just a random cab driver. He even went on to tell me about his favorite computer game and how he had been playing it too much over the past year and how it had really hurt his relationship with his wife. I did my best to give him the best advice that I could and told him that marriage is a sacred thing that should always be fought for. I also told him that he needs to make the first move when it came to getting back in contact with his wife. He was being passive about it and I feel like men are supposed to chase and make an effort to pursue, especially when they know that the problem is their own fault. I’m hoping that what I talked to him about called him into some type of action. In this type of time-sensitive situation I feel like waiting and seeing what happens is never a very good strategy.
We talked back and forth like this for about 15-20 minutes until he pulled over to drop me off for my lunch meeting. I felt like I didn’t want the conversation to be over and I wasn’t sure how to end our interaction. This guy was literally pouring his heart out to me and it was time for me to pay up and go on with my day like any other cab ride that I’ve had before. But, the fact is was that this wasn’t just another cab ride — it was the farthest thing from it.
So, as we finished up our conversation and after he told me how much I owed him I gave him my credit card, paid my bill and then decided to step out of my Christian comfort zone. As I was handing him back his receipt I went for it and quickly said, “Hey, this might sound a little weird to you right now, but can I pray with you for your marriage?” He gave me a look of confusion and then stumbled out the words “Sure, man — sure, that would be…great.” We both bowed our heads, I gave God the best 20 seconds that I could come up with and we both said Amen. He thanked me right after and looked me right in my eyes and said “Wow, man…you don’t even know me and you pray for me like that? That’s crazy…thanks, man.” I could tell he didn’t understand why I would do something like that and to be honest I wasn’t exactly sure why I decided to do it either. The experiences God gives us don’t always make sense at the time and that’s ok with me.
After that we said our goodbyes and I jumped out of the cab. After all, I had a lunch meeting to go to and somehow I made there with time to spare. How about that?