After leaving the convent I worked in Dayton at a publishing house. Two and a half years later, I traveled north to study at the University of Minnesota. The following spring, the vice-president of the Dayton firm came to the Twin Cities for a conference.
He called and we agreed to meet. He’d hired me and shepherded me, a naïve ex-nun, through the intricacies of re-entry into what the convent had called “the world.” While doing so, he’d become a friend.
We met that evening in his motel room and shared a pizza. For three hours we enjoyably exchanged stories about his wife and children and about my studies. Little did I know that the evening would end with a revelation. Here’s how the scene played out.
Around eleven pm, my former employer walks me down to the lobby and out the door to where a line of cabs waits. We say goodbye next to the closest one. The driver drums his fingers on the steering wheel, his windows open.
My friend and I hug one another. Then he slips me $20—enough at that time for the cab and for several cafeteria meals. I thank him and get in the taxi.
As he pulls out into traffic, the cabbie mutters, “What’d you do for that?”
I stare at him, puzzled.
He stops for a red light, looks back over his shoulder, and comments, “Looks like he gave you a couple of tens. Not bad for a quickie.”
I have no idea what he’s talking about, so I say nothing.
“Looked like one satisfied customer,” the man adds.
The light dawns. My thoughts giggle. He thinks I’m a prostitute. This is wonderful. I’ve always admired women who do what they have to do to survive.
On my daily walks in Dayton, I’d met a prostitute. Knowing her pragmatism and sardonic wit, I let my imagination soar and decide to take on the role he’s assigned me.
The light turns green. As we cross the intersection, the cabbie repeats himself. “Yeah, one satisfied customer.”
“I certainly hope so. I aim to please.”
“You enjoy strangers?”
“You could say that.”
“Tell me about it.”
“No giving away trade secrets.”
He smoothes back his hair. “How about my getting in that back seat with you?”
“Sorry,” I say. “My friend tired me out.”
We’ve arrived at the Victorian house in which I rent a room. He stops, looks over his shoulder again, and says, “The fare’s $7.50, but we could work something out.” He leers knowingly.
Opening the door, I alight from the cab. I hand him the two tens I’d been holding since we left the motel. He looks puzzled and starts to hand me back one bill.
“No. You keep it,” I say.
He looks up at me, clearly perplexed, seeking enlightenment.
“Easy come. Easy go,” I murmur with just a suggestion of a smile.
He stares at me. Slack-jawed.
I want to sashay up the steps and toss him a kiss, but I choose not to play into his prejudgment. So I simply stride up the walk, enter the house, climb to my third-story room, and settle down to ponder.
From this Minneapolis cabbie, I encounter a stunning truth—I can be almost anything I set my mind to. Life is replete with possibilities. We need only open our minds and hearts and spirits. In them exists the hope of discovery—about ourselves and others.