There are so many things to love about the story of Betty and Bob Matas and taxi driver Doulgas Guldeniz. Yesterday, the Daily News reported that Guldenez would drive the Matases from Queens to Arizona, where a retirement community awaits the septuagenarian couple. How did an over-2,000 mile fare happen? Well, the Matases were concerned how their cats would weather traveling via cargo load. And the couple doesn't know how to drive (real New Yorkers!). Then a solution appeared:
Betty and Bob had just finished a round of shopping in Manhattan and were having trouble finding a cab to take them home.
Along came Douglas Guldeniz in his canary-colored Ford Escape, and he didn't even blink when they told him they were headed for Forest Hills.
"He seemed like a real likeable chap," said Bob, 72, who used to work as an audio and video engineer for advertising agencies.
On the trip home, talk turned to the couple's plan to move to the village of Oak Creek in Sedona. Guldeniz, 45, who is originally from Turkey and lives in Gravesend, Brooklyn, peppered them with questions.
"We said, 'Do you want to come?'" Bob recalled. "And he said, 'Sure.'
"We were just going along with him as a gag," Bob said.
But by the time Guldeniz pulled up in front of the Matases' home, the idea didn't seem so nuts.
Now, Guldeniz, a Turkish immigrant, will drive the Matases - along with cats Cleo and Pretty - 10 hours a day until they reach Sedona, Arizona. The Matases will pay him $3,000, plus pay for gas an lodging. Apparently the "standard" fare would be $5,000, plus $5,000 for the return, which makes the executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety David Pollack say, "The moral of this story is that being kind, driving carefully and safely, being helpful to people and communicating with them is worth it. It pays off."
Guldeniz said, "I want to try and help these people." And, today, he told the News, "I'm happy right now. I want to make something in my life different. When I retire, I want to say something to my grandkids: 'I was on the news. I took a couple to Arizona.'"
This totally has the makings of a great movie - elderly couple and a NYC cabbie try to traverse the country in a hybrid cab with two cats! Ford should totally sponsor the trip! We hope the Matases read up on traveling with cats (the NY Times' Williams Grimes wrote about a harrowing trip with his cats Sweetzie and Soda last October).
Photograph of a Ford Escape taxi by S.D. on Flickr