Amelia and I are in Washington DC for a Girls Weekend to visit museums, meet my new niece, and attend my best friend’s baby shower.We are having a grand time. Last night we were standing on the corner of 16th and Corcoran hugging my best friend and her mom and saying our goodbyes. We hailed a cab, and thought we were headed home.
“Falls Church, please. We’ll be paying by card,” I said as the cabbie began to pull away from the curb.
“Oh no, that is a bad problem. I cannot take cards,” the Cabbie said in a thick Western African accent.
“I know you don’t want to take a card, but I don’t have enough cash and I know you have to take my card.” Me
“It is impossible, the machine is not hooked up. But I will do you a favor. It is late and too cold for your little one to be walking. I will drive you a couple of blocks to M Street. It will be easier for you to find a cab there.” Cabbie
“What’s going on, Mama?” Amelia asks, a bit bummed her first cab ride isn’t going according to plan.
“Remember when Auntie Courtney said the cabs don’t like to take credit cards here? Well, we just need to find the right cab,” I say. Surely we’ll be able to find that one cab in all of Dupont Circle that will take my card.
I had forgotten that DC is one of the few cities where paying a cab by card is not easily done, and at 10pm I thought is was a bit late to be riding the Metro with six year old Amelia. On the way to M Street, the cabbie is listening to the radio and Newt Gingrich is speaking, fresh off the win in South Carolina. The cabbie is making hilarious comments to what he is hearing, and our failed cab ride was actually pretty enjoyable. We arrive at the busy corner of M Street and 18th.
“We are here. You look for Yellow Cab. They take credit cards. You will have no problems. Probably,” says the Cabbie.
I’m groaning inside my head, because I know there is no way Amelia and I are going to hail a cab that takes a card. I figure we can walk into one of the nearby hotels, explain our situation, and have the concierge call the right cab for us.
“Okay. Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this so my daughter could warm up. You didn’t turn your meter on, but please take this. For your time and your kindness,” I say as I hold out a few small bills.
“No Ma’am. It is no problem. No need to pay,” the cabbie waves off my money.
“Please, I insist. You never turned your meter on. For your time, at the very least,” I say, moving my hand closer to him. I feel badly he just drove us eight blocks for no fare.
“No Ma’am. It is fine. You and the little one enjoy your visit and have no worries. I am happy to be kind,” says the cabbie with a big smile on his face.
“Hey Mister!” Amelia pipes up, “You showed kindness and caring. Good job! You’d make a great Daisy Scout!”
I stifle a snort and let this settle in with the cabbie. He looks at me, thoroughly confused. I didn’t think Amelia was able to understand him through his thick African accent, but she had caught every word.
“What is this thing? A Daisy Scout?” he asks, and all three of us start laughing.
“We are nice girls who show kindness, caring, friendship, and love. And we get to sing songs and sell cookies,” explains Amelia.
“I like cookies. I will be this Daisy Scout with you,” says the cabbie, and I put out my hand to shake his hand.
“You are extremely kind. Thank you so much, Sir,” I say as he and Amelia high five and we exit the cab.
But now we’re standing on the corner of M Street and 18th, on the side of Dupont Circle I always get lost in, and it is cold and dark. I’m looking up at street signs and don’t notice Amelia has left my side to tap dance in her red sparkle shoes for two pan handlers sitting behind us. They are clapping and smiling at her.
“Smalls! Stay next to me. We need to find a hotel or another cab.” Me
“Mom, these guys like my shoes! I’ll get a cab!” Amelia had eaten a piece of leftover baby shower cake at my best friend’s apartment right before we left, and the sugar in the gobs of icing she consumed were kicking in.
Then I watched as my little six year old girl shook and shimmied her way to the corner, threw up her arm, stamped her foot twice, and literally hailed a cab by herself. The cabbie was laughing when he pulled up to us.
“Falls Church, by credit card?” Four cabs, four stories – it cannot be done, the credit card machine was not hooked up. Okay, I think to myself, this just isn’t going to work. We’ll just take the train. It was only 10:15pm, we’d be safe and fine. There would be lots of people on the platforms. Except this is the side of Dupont Circle I always get lost in, and I have a six year old with me and it is dark. I need to find someone to ask where the nearest Metro is, and try not to get mugged because I clearly look like a stupid tourist now.
“Hey Smalls, Mommy made a mistake about the cabs. Change of plans, we’re gonna take the train.”
“S’cuse me, Ma’am, do you need help finding a cab?” one of the pan handlers that Amelia had been tap dancing for had walked over to us.
“Hi. Well, I was hoping to take a cab, but apparently DC cabs don’t take cards, so….I think we’re SOL. Say, is there a Metro near here?” I’m trying to make my brain remember this side of the circle, and which way we should be walking.
“Yeah! The Farragut North station is just a block that way on Connecticut. The Blue Line,” the guy is still chuckling at Amelia, who is now doing some weird crab dance for a group of drunk college kids who are cheering her on.
“Thanks, you are very helpful. I really appreciate your kindness,” and I try to offer him the bills I had tried to offer the cabbie.
“You can be a Daisy Scout, too! Woo hoo!” Amelia is in full sugar high mode right now.
“Ah naw, Ma’am. Y’all just have a blessed night,” he says, pushing my money away. “High five, little dancer girl!” Amelia high fives the pan handler, I smile at him, and we wait for the light to change.
We walk to the Metro station, Amelia dancing and shaking and skipping and hollering the whole time.
“Mom,” she says, as we approach the top of the escalator,”You should stop giving people money for their kindness. Just let them be nice. WOOHOO HOO HOO!!”
“You may be right, Smalls. You may be right.”
“ON THE LEFT!” Amelia shouts as she fist pumps the air and charges down the escalator.
Funny, I brought Amelia on this Girl Trip to widen her world and give her new experiences. Seems it is I that is learning from her.
*image from pulsarwallpapers.com*