How a Yellow Cab driver saved my ass at SXSW.

With all of the confusion, speed, and misunderstandings that life brings it’s easy become jaded about the ways of the world.

Today I had a really humbling experience. Someone completely saved my ass, who I never met, who went wayyyy out of their way to do it and did so gracefully.

It’s a story I felt like I had to share because sometime despite our belief that some people suck. The world is full of really gracious and amazing people. 

I woke up this morning after 3 hours of sleep in Austin in a bit of a haze. Nothing really was too different about this morning and when I left the hotel at 4:30AM I definitely didn’t expect the next few hours to go down the way they did.

I actually got a cab at SXSW immediately.

Something happened that never happens in Austin during SXSW. I walked out of the hotel directly to a cab. No wait. The driver was super polite and even when I handed him the plastic card he didn’t ask for cash.

I left him a solid tip and was genuinely thankful for the conversation and ride. In retrospect, I wish I had left a much bigger tip. 

Things got really odd once I walked to the kiosk and realized I didn’t have my passport. Or my ID.

Realizing you have no ID and no passport in an airport is an odd feeling. My only form of identification a week before leaving the country when out of town going to another town was completely gone…

Within about 10 seconds my brain processed:

  • I can’t leave Austin.
  • I can’t get to the Forbes thing in NYC tonight.
  • I can’t interview the 3 people I need to this week.
  • I can’t see my investors tomorrow.
  • I can’t go to London next week.
  • I won’t be able to see my girlfriend this week.
  • I don’t have an identity right now.
  • I’m completely screwed.

This really helpless feeling washed over me and I don’t feel that way often at all. I called the cab company knowing I had left it in the cab. All I had with me was my receipt from the card transaction which didn’t say the cab or driver name. 

I called half a dozen times over 20 minutes. The calls were getting dropped and in my own frustration I started to feel like I was just being hung up on.

For those that know me just imagine the look on my face of complete defeat with a cell phone in each hand and a laptop trying to figure out what to do.

At this point I had this odd moment of…

  • Do I call someone expedite me a passport?
  • Do I wake up Kate to make calls in tandem?
  • Do I just keep calling?
  • Do I give up and just start sleeping?
  • Do I drop a huge fbomb and stare at the wall?

I was just reaching the point of trying to figure out how to explain the foolish thing I had just done.

About 30 minutes of calling Yellow Cab over and over I got to dispatch. The agent just kind of breathed deep and said he’d send something to the drivers.

Within 5 minutes the cab driver called, he had my passport, and volunteered to bring it back to me. Basically, I felt like I just saw magic happen.

The driver… Actually brought my Passport back.

The driver then drove 30 minutes back across town to drop off my passport, which he had hung onto. He thanked me repeatedly for waiting for him to come back and quite frankly all I could do was repeat that “you’re a wonderful human being. I don’t know you’re story but I don’t have the words to describe what you have just done for me.”

This guy had been on the clock for something like 11+ hours all night during SXSW and ended his all-nighter with a tool in a hoodie leaving a passport behind in his cab. Would you return it? I know a lot of people who wouldn’t. If I did… I sure wouldn’t be happy once I got there.

This driver saved my ass all because he’s a good person and put me in my place just by doing it. My first inclination wasn’t that “It will all be ok” it was “I’m totally screwed. That passport is either in the trash or sold by the end of the day.

I am an idiot and a totally judgmental one who never should have thought that. I’m an idiot for leaving my passport behind and I’m an ass for thinking so little of someone else who I knew nothing about. Shame on me.

Totally humbling experience. 

<slight exaggeration>….. During this time a line the size of the great wall assembled at the security gate …..</slight exaggeration>

Things got stranger. I was sure I would miss my flight but somehow I got pulled out of the security line because I’d been upgraded. Somehow… Making my flight with enough time to grab a coffee.

One stranger made a huge impact on my life today and I thought that was worth sharing. Never underestimate the power of the yellow cab.

Be nice to your next cab driver. He might just save your ass.

Also. Watch yourself in Austin. A lot can happen before 7AM.