I’ve had some things happen to me over the years. Some I can’t explain why they happened to this day. But, when I reflect on a particular one, I think of the term, earth angels. Earth angels are those in one’s periphery that does something that prevents one from being harmed.
I was working at the California School of Professional Psychology at that time and had to attend a conference in Los Angeles. I loved the train so I took the opportunity to take a train ride. Once I arrived, I stood in line in my fancy suit with matching heels (looking quite sharp, I might add) to get a taxi and at that time, they had a LOT of different types of cabs from all sorts of companies. The cab I chose was a Yellow cab, but that was simply because when my turn came, it was the next in line.
When I got in the cab, the driver, a Black man, asked me where I was going and I gave him the address. I asked him if he knew where it was and he said, “sure, sure,” so I settled back and took in the scenery. After a few blocks, the driver asked me if I knew where the place was and I said, “no, you told me you knew where it was.” A few blocks later he radios his dispatcher and asks him how to get to the location and the dispatcher was trying to tell him, but he kept getting confused.
About 20 minutes into the drive, I was really getting worried because the driver was really getting upset. And then, he did the unexpected. He pulled over to the side of the road under some overpass and turned to me and said, “How do you expect me to take you to the place when you don’t even know where you’re going. We’re going to just sit here until you tell me where it is.” He had turned sideways and was glaring at me as if I had done something wrong, and he was pissed.
I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding so hard I could actually hear it in my ears. My mouth was dry. I was fighting back tears as I sat there clutching my fancy briefcase and purse and trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this situation. I grabbed to door handle and thought about getting out, but the area was kind of desolate and I had no idea where I was. Then the dispatcher came back on his radio and said something garbled (or maybe I couldn’t hear over the pounding of my heartbeat) that the driver understood and he slowly turned around, turned the engine back on and drove me to my destination. I ripped a manicured nail off getting out of that car and throwing money at him as I ran into the building.
Most of you could probably imagine what went through my head as I sat there pretty much at someone else’s mercy. Rape, murder, being beat up. My family not knowing where I was or what happened to me was what was foremost in my mind. How could my husband know that a taxi driver dumped me at some site? What kind of story would the police create to explain why I was found where they found my body?
Not everyone gets home safe. Maybe I was the first person this man did that too, and I was his test case. Maybe another passenger wasn’t as lucky. Once I was home I wrote a scathing letter to the taxi company and gave them all the information. They responded saying that they had check with all their drivers, and all their people were stars and would never do anything out of line, of course. But immediately they let me know that they had banned all taxis from the station that weren’t Yellow cabs. Little good that did me, because it was a Yellow cab driver that pulled that stunt.
What I learned from that is to make a note of the next taxi driver’s name and ID and put it somewhere in my purse where only someone looking for me would find it. I got a drive to the train station from another participant at the conference and have never been in a taxi since.
And, who knows, maybe the whole purpose of an earth angel is to do something that keeps you safe at that moment and neither of you know what they’ve done for you. But, it’s one of many times in my life that someone in my periphery saved me from being harmed beyond repair.