I’ve often thought the most satisfying job in the world would have been Charles Kuralt’s On the Road. Head out, find an ordinary person in some ordinary place, get that story. Even as a young reporter, when all my friends were scrambling for places in hard news and political exposes, I leaned toward the interview. Individuals are so….well, personal, right?
For a long time, I’ve scribbled notes in my journal about “the person of the day,” especially when I’m traveling. I chanced across this one recently, from a trip quite some time ago:
Person of the day, Virginia Beach, Friday May 4
Her name is Tasha, and she is my cab driver. She might be 22 or 23, no more, with a high sweet southern voice that seems to smile in my ear. Her cab is a little battered and the air conditioning doesn’t work. She has been a cabbie for a week and a half.
She is a big woman, who says she isn’t exactly swimsuit material. She’s wearing her gently curly hair, “good” hair, in a ponytail. Her skin is elegantly smooth and dark, not cocoa with that reddish undernote, but deeper, richer, like the skin of a seal. Her eyes are dark and luminous and she is very Southern, using words like “Gracious!” and “Sweetie” (to me, which seems funny as I am thirty years her senior).
She chatters all the way to my destination, the Edgar Cayce Center. In that cheery voice she tells me someone died. I didn’t catch who, and it seemed rude to ask after she kept talking about him being in heaven, which she thought would be a good place, but I think it was her boyfriend, and she misses him. Her body flows over the seats and she’s wearing a tank top, so I can see the size of her arms and the flesh spilling over the edge of her shirt at the underarm, but there is such a genuine sweetness and beauty to her that I imagine a boy who is slim and pretty but a little bit off in some way, geeky or gangster or something, who loved her.
On the way back, she tells me she loves to read Nicholas Sparks and loved The Help.
This image sticks with me, her sweet voice. Her loss. What is her story?