tucson december 03
this a.m. as i'm driving around tucson, i notice a large white pick-up truck following so close to me i could hardly see it in my mirrors. cars often zoom up to my truck on the freeway, suddenly slow down & hover - sometimes for quite a few minutes at the back, glide over to the side and hover some more before moving along side to (most of the time) wave, give me the peace sign, shout 'yes' w/a fist in the air, or sign 'i love you'. the more time they take, the more likely they are to respond positively.
this guy, however, was shadowing my every move, speeding up or slowing down with me, and riding so close as if he's trying to hide behind me. i move into the left-hand turning lane to leave the smaller road and get on a larger, busier road. as we wait for the light, i cannot see him at all but i know he's there. he didn't continue forward or turn off as i pulled to a stop. when the light changed, i made the turn. my truck has a very low starting speed - she goes about 5 mph in first, 10 in second, and maybe 20 in third. i was not completely out of 2nd when this asshole tears around me on 2 wheels and cuts sharply in front of me. if not for my excellent driving skills and lightning reflexes, we would have collided. later, i'm thinking, why the hell didn't i just hit him? i’m driving the much bigger, older truck! then he turns around in his seat, glares & flps me the finger as he slows to about 2 miles an hour. i can see he's a john wayne type, very white, very male, very large truck as far as pick-up's go - the kind with the bubble on the outter back sides for double wheels, very white and very new truck. i coulda made a HUGE dent in that baby. instead, i pick up my cell phone, grab a pen & pad of paper, jam my truck up to his ass, and pretend i'm talking to someone as i write down his license number - he notices, retracts his middle finger, revs his engine and takes off down a side street with a squeal and a puff of dust.
i growl & continue down the street, still looking for yard sales. pretty soon, i see a long building full of old things and a bunch of folks set up in a far parking lot selling there wares. i park, notice all the outside vendors are selling mostly new merchandise which i'm not interested in, so i go inside. i wander around, find a beautiful old mahogany eastlake shelf i want to buy so i return to the front counter to wait my turn.
as i'm waiting, an older white man, boots clicking on the cement floor, impeccable pressed jeans and striped shirt button downed down with a little bow-tie bobbing at his throat, demands of the people working behind the counter "is that your anti-american truck out there" thumbing at my vehicle.
"anti-american" i can feel my eyes flashing, drawing the old geezer to me like those huge horseshoe magnets i could barely lift as a child. he looks first in denial as his body lurches towards me, his head lagging behind while he peers out the store window at the truck, then looks at me and back again at the truck.
"anti-american" i exclaim again, regulating my voice so it projects as much as his does among the small crowd which is suddenly frozen silent but busy making sure they don't look at me or him."that is an american truck, son!” i exclaim.“what – is that, that YOUR truck?” he asks?“that’s my codepink wimmin for peace truck out there. my truck is anti-bush, anti-war but certainly not anti-american".
“who drives that truck – you drive that truck?” he’s still stuttering loudly. i say of course."well" he's lowered his voice, grumbling now as his head has caught up w/his body, attempting to tower over me. i move to approach him and he steps back.
"anti-bush is anti-american" he attempts.
"oh, you mean anti-american, like lying to the american public, or like manipulating the supreme court to appoint him president, or like disregarding the constitution not to mention the geneva convention, labeling folks 'enemies of the state' so he doesn't have to operate within the laws of our land and world?".
the guy can tell i'm on a roll and folks have continued to pause around us, still not looking, not involving themselves."well, there's two sides to every story," he begins, "besides that truck is alot more than anti-bush." he indicates another line on my truck w/a wave of his hand: "you didn't even spell the man's name right"
"oh, asscroft, the man who's attacking our bill of rights - talk about anti-american" i begin.
"i support my country in any war we fight" he moves to change the subject. "and to not support our country during war is anti-american".
"see," i say, "you want to decide what is american and what isn't. that is what is wrong with your thinking. i am american. my views are american. i am as american as you are and i do not support this war or any war. i do not support the concept of going to war to get what you want. i believe there are other ways to accomplish things in the world.
"again, he shakes his head as if indulging a small child who doesn't understand, "we have to go to war
"we only go to war because men lead us into war and men are willing to fight and kill. that's why wimmin need to take over and we will - we can think of lots of other alternatives besides killing and raping and bullying and bombing to solve problems."
he's turning on heel now, that same look of ambushed surprise, as if he would find this amusing if it wasn't so scary "oh, you think it is a male thing..." he begins.
"no,” i interrupt, “in this country i think it is a white, christian, rich and male thing" just to clarify. "but yes, definitely a male thing."
he's leaving now, muttering something to himself. i have the urge to follow him around the store, continuing our dialogue, but resist. i only toss at his back “you do NOT get to decide what is american and what isn’t”. the other folks standing around have now picked up the volume, resuming whatever they were doing, not meeting my eye nor looking at him. no one else will engage with me as i proceed to buy the shelf.
outside, there is a white, straight couple standing behind my truck taking pictures. as i approach, the womon starts excitedly talking about my truck. "i LOVE your truck" she gushes. "we had to pull across three lanes of traffic and park down the road so we could read your truck up close and take pictures".
she proceeded to tell me she is 54 years old and she has had one of those fortunate white american middle class lives that has been pretty much void of tragedy. She knows she’s been lucky: she married her high school sweetheart - she indicates the man standing a few feet away - and she's still married, no divorce; she's raised three children and they're all alive, no drugs, no jail, no teen pregnancy. she's been able to live 50 years with life's challenges and tragedy-free until now, she moans, tears swelling in her eyes.
"the day the supreme court gave that man the presidency was the first tragedy that ever happened in my life". tears now running down her cheeks, i move to embrace her and we sob silently for a moment in each others arms. her voice full of anguish, she continues, "and it has been a tragedy for me and for the american public and the world every since."
her voice grows with passion as she recounts some of the many tragic events that have been perpetrated on us during the past 3 years: the iraqi's dead, maimed, raped; the congress whimping out to the bush regime; the american public pretending everything is just fine, turning our backs on each other and all human beings around the world. it always comes back around to this - the pain of the betrayal of the american public - how can so many be so ignorant? how can so many be so willingly duped, so willingly led to believe whatever those in power deem us to believe?
we agree, and her husband echoes our position, that wimmin need to take over and that we are going to do our damnedest to make sure that happens. we embrace again and take more pictures on all sides of my truck. i offer to take pics of gayla and her husband but she says, 'oh no, you and me, suzanne, you and me'. so we finish taking pictures, smile & wave, and off they go, arm-in-arm, back to their parked vehicle.
later that same day, i'm driving down a huge city street going to meet my friends for sushi. i notice a brand new shiney red huge pick-up truck in the 3rd lane driving erratically trying to get my attention. i glance over and notice a 40-something year old white male, ugly expression on his face with his middle finger randomly jabbing the air. i give him my “shame shame” sign that i don't think he can see. a couple blocks later, he has managed to weave thru traffic to position himself next to me and is now leaning over toward his passenger's side with his finger wildly poking the air as he attempts to glare at me, furiously give me the finger, and keep from side-swiping the vehicles in the 3rd lane. he's the talented sort of fellow. he attempts to gun the engine and race around me - quite a task in 3 lanes of heavy traffic. he can't manage to race in front of me so he ducks behind me and approaches on my passenger side which happens to be a right-hand turning lane. he is forced to exit the road as i'm stopped at the light. he pulls into a parking lot at the corner, get's out his shiney red truck, faces me sitting in traffic, grabs his genitals and hitches them up doing some kind of little hop that i'm sure he's assured is macho and manly all in one. i burst into gales of laughter so hard i can barely give him the peace sign as traffic begins to move.
later that day, i'm at a gas station filling up my truck in preparation for heading back to california. a police car drives up and parks at the store's curb. i grab my notebook and approach the officer, wishing he was a womon but somewhat relieved to see he's not white. i tell him i was almost run off the road earlier. i stress that if it wasn't for my excellent reflexes and driving abilities, the other driver would have been toast. he appears to treat my complaint seriously, takes down all the information, sits into his car & runs the guys plates as i peer at the computer screen trying to decipher what it says. 'no priors' i think.
the cop explains the only thing they can do is pick him up and talk with him about reckless driving. i tell the cop i appreciate that - i emphasize my concern - if he is willing to violently tackle my truck which is so much bigger then his, what is he willing to do to someone driving a small vehicle? i mention he's probably the kind that one day will go off and people will claim they had no warning. i solemnly ask the cop if he doesn't think this is a warning. he looks at my big truck, then at me, nodding as he assures me they will 'have a talk' with this guy and find out why he did it.
"he did it because he thinks he has the right to attempt to run me off the road because he disagrees with me."
"well, that's not right and he shouldn't" says the officer. i thank him and return to my truck.
the next day, i'm parked in the lot at trader joe's and a young white man drives up with his 4 year old daughter in a dark blue pick-up truck. he pays his respects to my truck and then asks me if i've seen a video which i've already forgotten the name of and recommends it highly. then he proceeds to point to the beautiful, stark mountains that border tucson on the north - just where i happen to be heading that day to hike at catalina state park - he points up to that mountain and w/tears in his eyes, he says that's where bush unveiled his 'healthy forests initiative'.
he went on, that same anguish and disbelief thru-out his words, his face, his being, talking about being at that press conference and how journalists have deeply betrayed us all. he recounts how not one journalist asked the president any questions, questions that would get at the truth, questions that would uncover the motivations behind increased logging, mining and further decimation of our nations forests. he echoed some of gayla's sentiments earlier about how journalists used to be our courageous and daring front line, dashing here and there to ferret out the news, protecting sources, going underground, undercover, under lies and greed and filth to inform the rest of us. journalists used to have a commitment to finding the truth, to justice - didn't they? or is this yet another myth about the good ole days?
we part & i head into the park to spend the rest of the day hiking in some of the most beautiful land outside of tucson.
It is on this trip that i examine my polls taken over the past few months & several trips cross-country. I do the count & realize that in almost every state, the positives outnumber the negatives at the minimum rate of 2 to 1; and in some states 20 to 1! we also know that most u.s. citizens voted for gore, over 500,000 more. yet it is the perception that the majority of people support bush & this war.
So I’m realizing that it is because the bush supporters react w/such violence & vehemence, it makes them more notable – and folks who disagree think twice about standing up & saying so. i notice even in my journals, i tend to write a lot about those negatives, they are so shocking & scarey. I’m going to try harder to include all the positives as well! Peace, sam