Driving the Broke, the High, the Dopeman, and Credit Runs Out

The night started getting strange around two in the morning. I had just left from taking a break and watching an episode of 48 Hours on the A&E network with my wife ( for those of you unfamiliar this is a reality TV show that follows homicide detectives in various American cities on the first two days of the investigation and shows murder scenes, interrogations, etc.).

Traditionally Thursday nights are very busy because of the college crowd going out to party. This year however Thursdays have been very slow. Last night as no different and my first trip after my break was a pick up at a local hospital.

A Middle-aged man wrapped in a blanket walked up to my cab and got in. He didn’t smell all that good and despite the aroma of my jasmine air freshener and my fine natural smell (mA) in the air I had to crack my window. He told me he needed to go to East St. Louis and I told him that would be about $20 or $25 and asked if I could have the money upfront. He gave me two dollars and said that was all he had and I told him “look bro, I’m not running a charity, I’m in the business of making money so you gotta get out”.  Hopefully the hospital gave him a voucher when he went back in; but all I know is it is not my business to give free rides.

After waiting a long time for my next trip I got desperate and took a trip in an area known for drugs and a lot of nefarious activity. Just because the area is bad doesn’t mean that all the trips are bad and a lot of working men and women who are honest and going about their business order cabs out of these areas.

As I drove up to the address that I was supposed to be picking my passenger at I saw a woman doing some kind of ballet dance in the middle of the street. As she approached my car she was jerking and fidgeting and I started to ask her for money upfront but instead just let her get in. She said she needed a roundtrip and asked me to take her to an intersection that does not exist in what North Siders call the West Side but most white St. Louisans just see as the North Side. After we figured out where she needed to go I took her to that intersection and she looked around and told me to drive around the corner to another address. At this point I knew she was sending me on a drug run and she was going to get out of the cab and buy crack and either smoke it before she got in or take it home to smoke. We pulled in front of the house she pointed to, I asked her for the money that was on the meter, she gave it to me, and as she was leaving she said “don’t leave me” and about two second later I hit the gas. Cabbies can wait in front of a lot of places; but a crackhouse isn’t one of them unless they have a habit or a death wish.

Continue reading “Driving the Broke, the High, the Dopeman, and Credit Runs Out”

Where Does Everyone Go From Here?

A day or so after the monumental victory of President-elect Barack Obama in the presidential election life still goes on in America.

Those who simply disagreed with the policy positions of Obama are chalking this up as a loss and moving on with their lives.  The racists, the Islamophobes and right-wing nuts (see Freerepublic) are not taking this easy. You see they have thought, well forever, that they had the monopoly on what an American is and looks like. Now a black man with a Muslim name will be the commander in chief of the armed forces and the face of America to the world.

Many of these enemies of Obama will seethe in private and with friends and family. I am sure there are thousands of neighborhood bars throughout America from Staten Island to Simi Valley from the northern suburbs of Atlanta to Orange County full of talk about how America went wrong. Most will just run their mouths in private and are law-abiding if bigoted; but let us not fool ourselves there are going to be those who will turn to extremism and violence in this period.

It is no mistake that an upswing in right-wing violence occurred under the Administration of Bill Clinton. The right was angry and unlike most of the angry left under Bush it was armed, trained and many had military backgrounds. I expect such a thing to occur again although this time with a decidedly more racial tone. This will come from the Christian Identity Movement, Minutemen types, and even neo-Nazis; but while all of these groups can cause death and suffering on a small scale they are incapable of becoming a major threat due to a lack of popular support. Some of these people have the potential to become “dead-enders” meaning instead of seeing themselves as the ultimate Americans because of their whiteness and Christianity they may see themselves as an oppressed group and drop out of the mainstream they once defined. This type of thing has a greater chance of occurring in a bad economy.

My biggest concern, by far, is the widespread existence of right-wing extremism within the armed forces and federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies throughout America. If there is any real threat to Obama I think this is where it will come from. A vast majority of those in these agencies will do the right thing; but there are more than a few bad apples in these barrels and they have been known to step out of line

For the rest of us life goes on. Obama cannot do everything. He has to do his part and we have to do our part. We cannot have the failed “wait for the messiah” mentality that has doomed many cultures to failure. We cannot be utopian. Those who have came promising utopia in the past from the Soviet Union, China,  North Korea, Nazi Germany and even Libya under the Colonel have only succeeded in creating human suffering and misery. Man does not have the power to create utopia. What our leaders have the power to do, if we meet them half way, is the delivery of incremental change and on specific issues make changes that are better for the masses of the people while the society remains imperfect.

Continue reading “Where Does Everyone Go From Here?”

Obama: A New President for a New America

Due to time and fatigue I will be brief in my analysis of the election. As you can see from my electoral map I was a little too optimistic on a few states (although my home-state of Missouri looks like it is going to a recount it is so close).  At the end of the day though Tuesday November 4, 2008 will go down as one of the greatest days in the history of America. It will be right up there with July 4, 1776 (the day America declared independence from England), June 19, 1865 (the day all slaves were freed in America), the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Presidency in November of 1932 which brought about the New Deal,   Victory Day for the Allies in Europe when Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered on May 7, 1945, the signing Voting Rights Act in August 6, 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson after the campaigning of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the Civil Rights Movement,  and now the election of Barack Hussein Obama to the Presidency of the United States of America.

Yesterday I worked long and hard bringing voters to the polls. At 6:00 AM I brought an election judge to the Wohl Center on North Kingshighway at Dr. Martin Luther King and there were already about 500 people in line to vote (all of them black). All day I witnessed long lines of people of all ages and colors and enthusiasm before I came home to watch the results on television with a couple of close friends and my wife. One voter will however stick in my mind forever. At around 1 PM as I was waiting for a voter to finish and give a ride back home I witnessed a young man drive his 97 year old African-American grandmother to the polling place at 725 North Euclid. She was too frail to get out of the car so the ballot had to be brought to her. I just thought to myself what has this woman seen in these 97 years and did she ever think she would see this day?

When victory was announced I took in the awesome scenes on MSNBC from Grant Park in Chicago, Spellman College and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, 125th Street in Harlem, Times Square in Manhattan, and in front of the White House ( where my dear friend Omar Rosario was calling me on his cell phone).

I was numb and in shock; America had just changed. There is now, as Spike Lee stated, a B.B. (before Barack) and an A.B. (after Barack) in America in which time will be judged.