I wrote this years ago for an old blog which I’ve since taken down. Someone asked me to retell the story, so I decided to re-post it here. Enjoy!
One December long ago, I was a Senior in college with just one semester left. Most of my friends had either graduated early or were engaged and busy planning their weddings. I was suffering from “senioritis” and bored.
One evening a week I worked for a nearby church with several other college students. We had fun together every Wednesday night but for the most part we didn’t cross paths in our everyday lives. One December evening as we drove back to campus, we passed a neighborhood decorated with Christmas lights. I mentioned to my coworkers that, being stuck on campus with no car, I missed going out and seeing the lights and decorations on cold wintry evenings. One of my car-mates mentioned that he drove the campus shuttle two nights a week; if I wanted to ride along with him one night we could drive around and see some lights.
And so, that Saturday evening, I did. I remember absolutely nothing about the evening except this: when he dropped me back off at my apartment he said “I drive again on Tuesday, I’ll pick you up and you can ride along!” I remember thinking “How funny that he would think I’d want to ride around in his school van a second time.” I also remember thinking “How funny that I think I actually do!”
And so began a tradition that would last until I graduated the next spring. He would knock on my apartment window with his two-way radio and I’d come out and ride around town with him. His shuttle was “on call” so he had no route to follow; if a call came in we would shuttle the students around. And when there were no calls we drove around, talked, did homework, explored campus, crashed concerts, watched movies, made donuts, sampled olives, shopped, tried new restaurants, launched practical jokes. We had a blast.
My friends and roommates thought I had gone insane. We referred to this radio-carrying-shuttle-driving friend never by name, only as “my friend the shuttle driver” and no one knew what to make of him.
When I graduated that May he tore out a piece of paper from the yellow-pages, wrote his name, phone number, and home address on it, and gave it to me. I put it in my wallet thinking I’d never talk to him again. Then I left the country.
But twenty-one years later, I still have this worn out scrap in my wallet. Two years later, we started dating. Two years after that we were married.
Even now we agree that those “my friend the shuttle driver” days were just friendly. But each December when I see the Christmas lights shimmering through the snowy neighborhoods I remember that, were it not for his offer of driving me around to see them over two decades ago, my life would look very, very different.