editor’s letter mar 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is another episode in BUS RIDE, my 2007 Spiritual Journey. From last month…Is this (memory from my childhood encounter with a strange man) a warning? Maybe I’m irrational —  after all, I’m an adult now…”



I lingered at the intersection.

“My cab is just there,” the dark-skinned cabby said cutting through my thoughts. He pointed to a white vehicle parked at the curb across the intersection.  I looked at the driver and over at the cab.  Is this a safe choice? I wanted to close my eyes and instantly travel to Grand Rapids like Dorothy in OZ, clicking my heels and saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Instead, I heard The Counselor in my mind, “Just keep going.” I nodded to the man and stepped off the curb.

            White Tuxedo rolled my suitcase around to his car’s trunk and lifted it in. As I reached the sedan, he pulled open the door behind the driver. Nodding to his outfit I smiled and tried to act normal, “That looks like part of a tuxedo.”  

            He replied, “It is.  I just got off work … a wedding.”

Clutching my purse under one arm and my black carry-all under the other, I slid onto the smooth seat. He closed my door, pulled his own and got in.

            A clear plastic partition completely separated us, sealing me in the back seat. I leaned forward in the semi-dark and squinted at items taped to it. One was the man’s Michigan photo driver’s license, another was his Detroit permit. The picture looked right, but I did not make note of the name. In the front, a meter’s red digital numerals glowed, “00.”

            The cabby started his car and we rolled slowly away from the curb. Deep in the bowels of Detroit’s inner city after dark, I was completely in the hands of a white-tuxedoed man. God’s will or not, I was scared.


On this humid September night, my driver had all four windows down. Like a convertible ride, late summer air blew in my ears.  We ramped onto an express-way of some kind, but in a few minutes we rolled off. This can’t be the airport!

White Tuxedo pulled into a brightly lit gas station empty of people and other cars, got out and stuck a black hose into the gas tank behind me. While gasoline gurgled automatically, he walked to the station and disappeared.  Where is everyone? What’s going on in that station?

Suddenly I saw tomorrow’s newspaper headline in my mind, “WOMAN ATTACKED IN DOWN-TOWN DETROIT. I’m being set up. I’m going to be mugged!   Girl-friends’ e-mail warnings flashed through my mind, “Use your elbow on an attacker.”, “Throw your purse and run the other way.” and “Never look like a victim.” Fingers shaking, I dug out my cell phone out of my bag and turned it on. I’ll call David in Grand Rapids or JK in Florida … I argued with myself, What good would that do?  On the verge of panic, I took a breath and The Counselor spoke, OK, OK. Calm down.   Hearing that, I thought more calmly. I’ll pretend to use my cell phone.  It will make me look less a victim.

About then, the man-in-white strode back across the drive to the cab. Determined to appear strong, I leaned out the window and asked, “Are we near the airport?”

“Oh, no!  It’s miles, yet. I just needed gas.”

With a click, he hung up the black hose. Getting back into the driver’s slot, he turned over the engine and steered back onto an expressway.  (Continued, next page.)

Cell phone out, I actually dial-ed David to tell him my change of plans. As the cell rang, I thought, At least he can go to bed and be rested for work Friday.

“Hello?” Unused to late calls, his voice was wary.

“Hi David! It’s Mom. Are you ready for bed?”

“Hi Mom! I’m in my pajamas, waiting for you. Are you at the Grand Rapids terminal?”

“Well, no.  The bus was late so I’m only as far as Detroit.” I explained the situation, saying I’d rent a car and drive to his house.

David didn’t reply and I anticipated his thoughts, “Honey, I have your key. You don’t have to wait up.”

“OK Mom.”

“I’ll be as quiet as I can. Close your bedroom door, OK?   See you in the morning! I love you, David. God bless you.”

“I love you too, Mom. Bye.”

As I held the button to turn off my cell, I thought of Robert Frost’s famous line,

“… and miles to go before I sleep…”


Frances Fritzie

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