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Finding a Favorite Cabbie

A ride to the airport creates a lasting driver-fare relationship.

Editor's note: Yesterday . Today, she's got a more positive story to tell.

I called Tony of Tony’s Car Service for a little perspective. I had the pleasure of riding with Tony to O’Hare in January. As he handed me his business card with not one but two mobile numbers (847.845.8993 and 773.544.0993), he explained the letters L-U-D-Y on the card.

“They stand for Let Us Drive You,” he said. “You can call me anytime, day or night, and I’ll come pick you up.” Then he took off his hat and I noticed the unmistakable patchiness of hair ravaged by chemotherapy.

“Thank you,” I said. “That’s awfully nice.” I wondered if he really meant it. Then he asked if I knew my return flight information from New York.

“I do,” I said, taking the clipboard and pre-printed form on it. This guy really means it. I filled out the form, then we chatted all the way to the airport. He told me about the ups and downs associated with driving people around all day, sharing stories that had me laughing until I cried.

He described how wonderful people can be, but also how disgusting, how disrespectful, how downright unpleasant they can get. One customer needed a ride to the veterinarian because her dog (who also rode along) was ill. Guess who had to clean the car after that? Tony’s also had to clean up after humans.

“I’m not judging people or their situations,” he said, “but if they’re not going to wear their Dependables, then I’m the one who has to do the cleanup. It ain’t pretty.”

Yes, he called them Dependables. And I loved it.

During my trip to New York, Tony called me. “Just checking in to see if you’ll still need a ride,” he said.

“Actually,” I said, “I have to come back to Chicago early.” I couldn’t tell him (or anyone at that point) that I’d be coming back . Instead, I just said, “Tony, I appreciate the call. If I need a ride, I’ll call you.”

My husband ended up picking me up from the airport after all, which was beyond romantic (remember that scene from When Harry Met Sally?). Sorry, Tony.

However, when I called Tony just now to ask if he minded my including his mobile numbers in this article, he said, “Not at all. And I do remember you. On the way to the airport, we stopped at your daughter’s school first. You had to leave some medicine for her…”

Now that’s what I call Dependable Service.

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