I’m dispatched in my taxi to pick a lady up at Northwest Hospital. When I pull up, I see a Mexican woman standing by a white lady in a wheelchair, but I don’t stop. I don’t want her to be the one. There’s something about the look on the white lady’s face, a look of hatred and judgment and entitlement that I have seen so many times, and the Mexican woman standing there looking lost and sad.

I do a loop around the hospital and then come back around and they’re still there.

“Mrs. Buckner?” I say out the window, and they both nod.

“It’s about time, where the hell you been?”

She can’t be older than 50.

“Traffic,” I say.

“I’ll have your job.”

“Take it,” I say. “It’s yours.”

She says to the Mexican lady: “Where’s my purse? Don’t you have my fucking purse?”

“You must have left it inside,” the Mexican lady says.

“I didn’t leave it anywhere! YOU must have left it inside. Well, go get it! And keep your grubby mitts out of it too! I know how much money I have in there!”

The Mexican woman tells the old lady in the wheelchair: “Don’t move, I’ll go get it.” She runs inside the hospital. She’s at least 15 years older than the white lady.

The white lady starts to wheel herself out of the shade toward the curb, but she can’t control the wheelchair on the slope and she goes sailing down the sidewalk over the curb and into the parking lot. She does a faceplant on the pavement and lays there wailing and squirming.

I jump out of my cab as the Mexican lady runs out of the hospital with the old lady’s bag. A bunch of nurses run out after her and gather around the old lady to pick her up. Her face is bleeding, but not too bad. Her screams seem more angry and accusatory than from real pain, like none of it is her fault, like nothing has ever been her fault.

They stand her up. Her legs work as she shakes off the nurses. She’s as strong as Jim Thorpe! She leaps back into the wheelchair. It is clear by the reactions of the nurses that the lady isn’t seriously injured.

The Mexican woman tries to soothe the white lady.

“Get away from me! And give me my purse!”

She snatches the purse and the nurses wheel her into the hospital. I walk up to the Mexican woman. She is the lady’s caregiver and it is her first job since becoming legalized in the United States. She’s only had the job for three days. She’s crying quietly.

“What’s going to happen to me?”

She’ll lose her job for sure. There might be a lawsuit; she might get sent back to Mexico. She has family here and in Mexico who depend on her, a family who lives in poverty the likes of which the white woman can’t imagine and certainly can’t sympathize with.

It’s hot standing there in the sun and we can still hear the old lady screaming from inside. God help me, I want to walk in there and slap her.

I feel guilty walking away back to my cab, but they don’t need a ride now, and I have my own problems. I call dispatch to tell them to give me something else. It’s that point in the day, around noon, when all the shadows disappear.

***

For all installments from 6 to 6, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Traveling Mercies
  2. Next Time, Take Skyline
  3. Suicide Lane
  4. Morenci in My Rear-View Mirror
  5. A Spiritual Adventure
  6. Sonja’s Ring
  7. A Pair to Draw To
  8. Grocery Day
  9. A Day with Melanie
  10. The Hot Light
  11. Drano
  12. The Cab Knows the Way
  13. Dodi’s Luck
  14. Don’t Die Before Your Mother
  15. Bob’s Big Day
  16. Nothing But a Human Being
  17. John’s Dream
  18. God Didn’t Get Me No Weed
  19. Ramirez