A monthly column by Michael Cassidy, evangelist, author, Christian leader and founder of African Enterprise whose ministry in Africa and the world has spanned more than 50 years.
After a time of ministry in the US some years ago, I boarded an airport limousine, along with about 10 others, to be driven to Kennedy Airport.
We all clambered into the limousine and most of my fellow-travellers vanished behind the New York Times.
“Mornin’ everyone”, said the jovial driver as he climbed with a huge smile into the driver’s seat and surveyed the dismal offering of passengers which the early morning had presented to him. A few grunts of response were his only reward.
“Morning,” I said, somewhat bashfully.
“Well, at least A’am happy,” he chortled, thereby pronouncing his considered verdict on the state of the rest of us!
Feeling I ought to try and rise to the occasion on behalf of the rest of humanity I ventured a friendly comment.
“Got a long day ahead?” I asked.
“Well, man,” he drawled with that extra special inimitable accent of someone from Brooklyn, “I have been on from 1am and I got till 9am. That’s ma shift, you see. But it may be longer; they may call me for extra. You know, they pull dem tricks sometimes. But that’s ok. You see, it’s the service that counts. You gotta give that service good, man, real good.”
The sentence tailed off in some more deep chuckles rumbling up from his middle abdomen and then tumbling out like a tonic on the frosty world around him.
“Goodness,” I thought to myself, “this chap’s got it. He’s a demonstrator. He’s a preacher who practises what he preaches. He is a taxi-man who is concerned to render true service in the one way he knows how – driving his limousine the best and happiest way he can.”
“Yeah man,” he went on, as if reflecting on the triumph of his spirit over the nature of his job, “I guess I’s de only guy around here wot can make dis job a heck of a lot of fun!” More roars of semi-philosophical laughter.
I continued thinking. “It’s unbelievable. He’s been up since 1 am. He should be ready to spit in everybody’s eye, and here he is right on form, so full of fun and blessing the world.”
We then began arriving at different air terminals where various passengers would disembark.
“Anyone for Sunlight over Jordan?” he called out. “That’s Eastern Airlines!”
A couple of disgruntled commuters spilled out. We drove on.
“What about Alcoholics Anonymous? That’s AA. American Airlines.” Ok no-one for AA.
‘Fussy on the Ground’
“Now,” said the tonic, warming to his game, “How about ‘Fussy on the Ground?’”
I looked suitably perplexed and rose to his bait like any good trout.
“That’s United. Friendly in the sky – fussy on the ground!” He beamed seraphically as we all clicked in recollection of the slogan, “Fly the friendly skies of United.”
“Oh, brother,” I mused to myself, “keep preaching. That’s us religious people. Friendly in the skies of church, fussy on the ground during the week!”
“Now Needle Nose,” he announced with finality. “That’s British Airways. You know there go dat plane with the long nose. Oh, man. To see dat baby land! Bootiful!”
I disembarked at Needle Nose. As my new friend got my bags out, I said to him round at the back of the limousine, “You’ve got an inner secret. You must be a Christian.”
Now his face just exploded in wrinkles of delight.
“Yessir,” he beamed, his eyes sparkling and popping even wider, “He’s made me da greatest lover in the world! He did something mighty for ma life 32 years ago and He also gave me a commandment, yessir, a commandment, ‘love everybody as Aah have love yew.’ Dat’s right. Everybody. Ma name’s Mitty, sir. Just call me Mitt.”
“Oh, Mitty,” I said, “Here’s my card. Let’s keep in touch. You’ve made my day.”
And he had.