Moral Angels

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Archive for September, 2008

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget

“I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life…”

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.

What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute”, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing”, I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy”, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers”.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

By Kent Nerburn (Reproduced with kind permission).
Kent Nerburn is the highly acclaimed author of eight books on spiritual values and Native American themes. This beautiful story has been widely circulated on the web. It originally appeared in Kent’s book Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.

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  • Baby Lucas

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  • Filed under: Angels' Corner
  • Mid Autumn Festival 2008

    This year’s celebration for Mid Autumn Festival is a unique one where we have a “2-in-1” Eighth month Ge Tai since we didn’t have a seventh month Ge Tai last month.

    As early as 1pm, volunteers are already in the midst of preparation. Some are peeling pomelo and cutting mooncakes (do not be surprise..for those who are peeling the pomelo..some of them did it for the same time!!).


    While others are warming up their voices and guitar for their upcoming performance. And before we knew it, the elderly are already seated and waiting eagerly for the program to start. Hence without further ado, our very compatible =) emcees for the day, Ping Sing and Desment kick start the program by enlightening us on the significance of eating mooncakes & pomelo while the elderly enjoy their treat of the homemade mooncakes ( Special thanks to Agnes, MinYue’s friend for making them and thanks to ah xian for coordinating the numbers needed) and sweet and yummy pomelo bought by uncle song.


    After which, the volunteers and elderly had a great time listening to the repertoire of songs brought to us by our Ge Shen –Uncle Song, SK, Gary(his new band name is “behind”), Stuart, Hui Quan, Uncle Loi and Ge Hou –Christina, Doris, Jojo, Ping Sing. Not forgetting, we also had some special guest performance by Xing Jian, Poh Yan’s colleagues(3 beauties and 1 handsome) and also Ah Kiat (its a good job done in playing the song “way back into love”..luckily it didn’t out to be “way back into cramp” own u a drink or u wan hug?? Hahaha…). Thanks to our Sam – We have special stage effect for our singers as they have cleverly thought of using dry ice to create a fog effect. And I believe Poh Yan had a fun time playing with it, to produce more of the flowing fog behind the singers! Not forgetting, he also doubled-up as dancer for Christina’s yi zi xiao yu shan performance. Though he has used the wrong prop of a da yu shan! With special comments to Stuart’s on his preparation of the “retro outfit” and Hui Quan’s challenge to himself of 4 songs in 4 different languages in untuned..oops..unplugged version.. haha…


    As usual, the singing is interspersed with two games that are specially created in line with the mid-autumn festival theme. As our emcees narrated the stories on the origin of mid-autumn festival, we played a game of matching Chang Er and her pals (which include Wall E now?! But can’t be help, as its our second Mr FON – JX is in-charge) and making of mooncakes using flour dough prepared by shuhua.


    Soon, its time for dinner where our elderly is treated with the yummylicious braised soya sauce chicken cooked by Auntie Molly with some sweaty help from christina. While the rest of the volunteers are treated with yam cake and yummy durian and cempedak mooncakes =)

    I do not have a long list of thank you notes to people…as I believe those of us who are present there has already made a wonderful day for the old folks and we all can surely feel it within it the old folks or us…

    In all, thank you to those who are present physically or spiritually for this event… it is deeply appreciated.



    Moral Angels’ Weekly Flash 060908

    Vicky, Rosy and Nelly

    I remember the first time I met Vicky. She was recovering from an eye operation, and maybe that was the reason she saw me as a young handsome boy. Her vision might be blurred, but her mind crystal clear. Vicky thanked the Lord for her other good eye and her faith was rewarded with a full recovery. We talk about the weather, about her friends. We talk about the fun she had when out for a joyride with her friends.

    True to her name, the world to Rosy is like a bed of flowers. One moment its Lily, the next moment its Rose. Never a person who dwells on the past, Rosy greets everyone with the enthusiasm of a 5 years old. She has this infectious laughter that even the grumpiest grandpa will break into fits. Her favorite punchline is ‘What’s your name?’.

    Nelly is the coolest girl you will ever meet. Every week I will ask her out, and every time she will decline without missing a heartbeat. Nelly is always at peace, and doesn’t seems to be bothered by anything. She resides in a parallel world and is bemused by the hectic life led by mere mortals. Her favorite pastimes are eating and sleeping. This alone makes her the envy of everyone.

    Thank you Vicky. Your wisdom has taught me. Your passion has touched me. Your faith and belief has built me a boat to sail through the highs and lows of the seven seas.

    Thank you Rosy. I have learnt to live the moment and not dwell on the past. Laughter is the best medicine and doesn’t cost a cent.

    Thank you Nelly. I have learnt to look inside for shelter rather than to chase the rainbow and ended up drenched in the rain and burnt by the sun.

    As I give, I realise I have received.
    As I teach, I realise I have learnt.
    As I live, I realise I am dreaming.

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    Moral Angels’ Weekly Flash 300808

    Hello Angels…. It’s Ah Xian’s turn to write the weekly flash… So please bear with me and my broken eng bon hor… :)

    Anyway, here it goes…
    As I walked into the activities area, I thought I saw Hui Quan at the mahjong table. Split second later, he has MIA-ed and the mahjong session was taken over by our tall and slender Rico :). As usual, the Black Jack business was up and going at the other corner of the hall and Aunty Lee Ah Khim was grinning away.. Why ah??!!?? Why ah??11?? Ooo… Apparently she has made a killing at the black jack table and has even attempted to do a show hand at the last game (that’s what I heard). New faces was also spotted among the usual black jack kakis – our Aunty Ah Yen and our new banker, Charmaine, from CMH (I hope I got her name right).

    Ah Yen: “Eh Ah xian ah, what’s the total point for an ace and 8??” “I think its 19” I replied. However, our Aunty Lee AK insisted it’s 18 as her total point is 19. There it goes, she won Charmaine by a point. Poor Charmaine :). So where is our veteran banker – Uncle Song and Aunty Molly?? As usual, Uncle Song was running errand for the elderly and Aunty Molly was serving chee chong fun to the elderly at the dining area. Yummy yummy…. Over at the dining area, Poh Yan was trying his best to be crowned the ‘King of Chess’. But sadly for Poh Yen, I heard it was 2 wins for Uncle John and a draw. Uncle Poh Yan ah, you need to try harder next time liao. We will support you all the way :)

    So, where’s Josephine, Shu Hua and Ah Xian?? We were playing fishing and bean bags with the elderly. Well, I reckon that the group is growing. We have newly recruited 2 residents to join us in the games. Well done to whoever that wheeled the residents down. As for the background, we have Jinxiong to sing for us.

    Oh ya, for a moment I thought we have a new volunteer leh.. At a closer look at that person, its no one else other than our Principal/Postman Uncle Lim SK… OMG, he looks so different in his working attire. But once he started to sing, our FON SK is back again!!!!…. :)

    Not forgetting our VL, she was back to MH after a few weeks of MC. Well…heard that Uncle Meng Huat is not feeling well too and our Uncle Song is on the road of recovery. So Angels, do take good care of yourself ya… Pop in more vitamin C, fruits and vegetables :) .

    PS: (not I Love You of course). But….not to comment on my grammar and eng bon ya…. :) … Just enjoy this broken eng bon flash la :)

    Specially for our Teacher Rico, Teacher SK and teacher-to-be JoJo… Happy Belated Teachers’ Day. Flower

    See Ya
    Ah Xian

  • Filed under: Weekly Flash