Sometimes it pays to trust a stranger–or in this case, it cost nothing.
Posted in , Sep 28, 2016
Turns out that rental cars are cheaper in New Jersey, on the other side of the George Washington Bridge. We rented one last weekend. On Monday I returned it.
I’d been planning to run back across the bridge and was wearing my running clothes. But I noticed, as I was driving across, that there weren’t any people on the bridge. Maybe it’s been closed to pedestrians, I thought, because of the recent bombing. Maybe I’d be stranded in New Jersey.
I couldn’t take an Uber. Didn’t have my phone with me. And I didn’t have much cash.
“Are there buses going into the city?” I asked the guy at Budget Rental. “Yes,” he replied and pointed me in the right direction. “Take the second stairway down. It’ll be right there.”
At the bottom of the second stairway there was a nicely dressed woman waiting at the curb, cars going past heading to Manhattan. “How much does it cost to take the bus?” I asked.
“One dollar and ninety-five cents,” she said. Then she looked at me carefully. “But you don’t have to pay anything if you do it my way.”
Just then a car pulled up. “Follow me,” she said. I guess I was too startled to hesitate. She seemed nice enough…and even with terrorist fears in the headlines, she seemed completely trustworthy. When given a choice, I tend to trust anyway.
I followed her. She stepped into the back seat of the waiting car on one side, I stepped in on the other. “Thank you for taking us across,” I said to the driver. “How much can I pay you for this?”
He waved his hand. Nothing. Nothing? I thought. Nothing costs nothing in New York.
He pulled up to the toll booth. The toll taker looked at the pair of us in the back seat–an unlikely pair, me in my running clothes, the lady in her black dress and stockings.
“Car pool,” the toll taker said. “That’ll be nine dollars.” A six-dollar discount.
The driver dropped us both off on the other side. “Thank you,” I said to the man. Then I turned to my George Washington Bridge angel and thanked her.
I know, I know, you’re supposed to never get into a car with strangers. But sometimes strangers can do a good turn for you as you do a good turn for them.