Pregnancies, of course, are full of prenatal doctors visits, ultrasounds, and the like. For most of these my wife, Claire, took the subway into Manhattan from our home in Astoria. Her doctor was one stop in. But sometimes she had to go to the hospital she’d be delivering at, up in Washington Heights, and that meant taking a car service.
In Ditmars-Astoria, you either call a car service you like or you walk over to the elevated subway stop, where drivers tend to congregate and pick up street hails (even though legally they’re not supposed to). For anything other than airport trips we tend to get a car on the street.
By coincidence Claire ended up getting the same driver, Ahmad Roka, on a couple visits to New York–Presbyterian in Washington Heights—and on one unfortunate trip to Beth-Israel in the East Village the time I had a fainting spell and ended up there for a few days.
It must have been on that trip that Claire got his card, because when it was time to call a car for the birth, we made arrangements with Mr. Roka to pick us up early in the morning (Margot was a C-section, so we knew the date and time in advance). We thought it was fitting that the guy who had driven Margot around while she was in the womb be the one to drive us all in on the big day.
The day after Margot was born, I got a call from an unfamiliar number. I picked it up, and it was Mr. Roka, calling to wish us well—and offer to make arrangements to bring us all home. I found that small gesture unusually touching, and now when we’re out and pass impromptu car-service staging area, we always look for him. (Funny enough, we’ve only seen him there once since then. Most of the time we’ve seen him down by Ralph DeMarco Park or at some random intersection while we’re out for a walk.)
It’s just another reminder to me the kind of the community connections you make accidentally in a city like New York, just by going about your life and the of surprising moments of kindness in an otherwise busy metropolis.