Criminal Cab Driver?
The above quote is from a friend responding to my "RED ALERT" concerning the blatant prostitute solicitation occurring these days along State Route Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue North) in Seattle's Broadview and Northgate neighborhoods. His thought is that by merely mentioning I have transported passengers I suspect could be involved in something illicit or criminal, I too am somehow implicated, bringing up a question I've had from my earliest taxi days: what responsibility, if any, does the cabbie hold when recognizing potentially felonious or nefarious behavior?
God knows! daily I am witness to all kinds of crazy and questionable behaviors and actions within the confines of my cab but do I have any perceived moral or legal authority to intervene? Should I tell the dumbbell men I drop off at the strip clubs they are wasting their money? Or the countless men I have taken to and from porno shops, should I suggest they would be better off finding a willing partner instead? And what cabbie anywhere in the world who hasn't done the ubiquitous "drug purchase" run, something as commonplace as songbirds singing in the early morning? Are you going to tell these birds to sing a different tune? I doubt it, and if you tried, the bird taking wing, flying away.
No, instead I make the greatest attempt to treat all my customers the same, trying to avoid judgement and wishing the passenger well, whatever they might be doing or where they are going. When I do make counsel, its only in the extremest conditions, like suggesting to the drunk not to get in their car and drive away, that it's a bad idea. Only then have I notified a 911 operator that someone dangerous is about take to the roadway. My sole purpose this time, in my futile attempt to raise alarm about the ongoing streetwalking, is to help facilitate a new awareness about the victimization these women are facing, and nothing else. If that somehow makes me a lawbreaker, then go ahead, arrest me for caring, something Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jamal Khashoggi, Joe Hill and many others were murdered for, caring for others it seems at times the very worst of crimes.
Easter 1982 Madrid
Awakened from an afternoon nap by music, and seeing a procession
marching past our hotel, dressed and dashed down to
the street as Spanish soldiers
goose-stepped a hoisted Virgin Mary in carnival fashion above the milling
followers---machine guns, Fascism and Roman Catholic veneration all
blending to celebrate today "Jesus has arisen!" Hurray!
In My Marlette Bunkbed
In my mobile home bunkbed I gathered my stuffed animal friends around me,
in my bunkbed I brushed away spiders from my face,
brushing away the Virgin Mary's womb my father prayed to,
scaring me, not wanting any part of their confining reality,
covering and hiding my head beneath my Hungarian grandmother's
feather tick dunyha, my mother's shouts penetrating the kitchen's
Note upon "Bunkbed:" Our turquoise and white Marlette trailer, 8 feet wide and 55 feet long, was built in Marlette, Michigan. The Marlette Company was founded in 1953, the year I was born. Our home was essentially one long aluminum box, the "rooms" divided by wooden sliding doors. My brother Steve, seven years older, had the lower bunk, with me occupying the upper. My father would stand next to my bed and we would recite that prayer to the Virgin "Hail Mary" together. We were very poor, driving my afflicted mother crazy, angry with her husband for our unnecessary poverty, even our inferior Marlette home endangered by the constant threat of repossession by the mortgage company.
My comforter was from my father's mother. Hungarian was my parent's first language. Dunyha, or dunna, is Hungarian for eiderdown. In Australia, the Hungarian has become doona, meaning duvet.
Note on "Madrid:" I will never forget, taking an evening stroll one night after dinner and passing a government building, the Spanish soldier guarding the place pointed his machine gun at us, aiming for our stomachs. This was in April, 1982. Franco died in November, 1975, with his Spanish-style Fascism remaining a lingering scent perfuming Madrid seven years later. For those interested in history, the Roman Catholic Church backed Franco in his fight against the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War (07/1936-04/1939), hence the intersection of religion and militarism we witnessed that Easter Sunday. For further reading, George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" is a great book to begin with.
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