Jay Richmond
Jay Richmond/Google Earth

What do you do when the car service car you hired to take you to the airport during rush hour stalls on the Long Island Expressway on your way to catch a transatlantic flight?

I’d been sitting in the sweltering car for 20 minutes on that bleak, scary highway, waiting for the dispatcher to call with news that another car was on the way. The driver, who had failed to get the motor going with his “jumper box”, had opened the hood and trunk to signal “stalled car” to the heavy traffic around us, and was on his cellphone pleading with his sister buy him a new battery and bring it to him. My calls to the car service now yielded nothing but piped music as I sat on hold.  I called two other car services. “We can’t pick you up without an address. Sorry.” Time was flying.

“Damn.  What the hell am I gonna do?”  I found myself thinking about my blog, and its big message:  that there is always a solution in the moment.  “I’ve got to put this into practice, somehow…Think, Sally.  What are the options?!”

Hitching a ride was the only solution I could think of, but how to do it safely?  I watched a cab whizz by: Hitch a ride with a cab…

So I stood on the meridian and stuck out my thumb, hoping I didn’t get hit by a car. Cabs sped by. I was going to miss my flight. I leaned my body toward a cab coming at me, as I gestured for a ride, then to the stalled car. The driver slowed down, looking like he wasn’t sure if he should. “Are you going to Kennedy?” I yelled. “We’ve broken down and I’ve got to catch a flight!.” He nodded and stopped the car and his passenger, a startled young guy on a cell-phone said “okay!” and kept talking to his friend.

I made my flight thanks to very kind strangers, and “the spirit of improv” as Reggie Cathey likes to call it. The moment provided.

Related posts: Reg E. Cathey on the Spirit of Improv
Reg E. Cathey’s Goodbye Love Song to Manna Hatta and Its Improvisational Spirit

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