Workplace encounter leads to Crabbie's meditation on human violence

A very interesting night, and it began with my being offered a very interesting opportunity. I'm going to have to be coy on that front, but it's pretty exciting.

Anyway, a story, though only tangentially cab related...

D.'s a cab driver who works the Felony Flats area, a part of town I also work with some frequency. I'll see him in the parking lot at the Fred Meyer on 82nd & Foster, and we'll shoot the shit and bum each other cigarettes. He's really tall, probably around 6'8" or 6'9", white guy who was in the Army. I always figured he was about my age.

He is, in fact, older. Talking to him today about how little either of us has enjoyed our past time on pain killers, he referenced being shot in the hip. I asked him where this happened, and he told me about his time in Somalia.

Black Hawk Down is a very excellent book and one of the more amazing pieces of journalism written in the last decade (much, much better than its jingoistic, "America, Fuck Yeah!" movie adaptation), so I guess I'll just reccomend it in lieu of recounting most of D.'s story here. Suffice it to say that he had a lot of friends die on that day. Himself, he was stabbed four times in the back after his commanders sent him back into battle even after he'd seen most of his platoon split up and killed or wounded. After being stabbed, the Humvee transporting him broke down, and he was shot twice in the hip while being carried on a stretcher. D. wasn't a Ranger, just one of the grunts sent in after them.

When he got back from Somalia, he went AWOL for a year, distraught over the death of so many of his friends. He "lived in Montana and grew a beard, like Rambo," then went back into the service for two years. Now he sleeps on a hide-a-bed with his girlfriend and doesn't make as much money driving a cab as he probably could. I'd always kind of smugly taken this in with a "more money for me" attitude, but now that it re-occurs to me as I write this, I think I'll probably give him some pointers.

I don't know what point I really have here - I'm neither trying to say "war is hell" nor "God bless our fighting men and women." Or maybe I'm trying to say both. I just think it's fucked up that people shoot and stab each other, basically. D. probably killed people while he was in Mogadishu, and people tried to kill him. This doesn't make him suddenly not one of the nicest cabbies I know, nor does it necessarily make the Somalis who were trying to kill him bad people. He raised this last point himself.

It's also sobering to me to realize that I'm not interested in helping other drivers make more money unless a) I like them and b) they have some quality that makes me feel they're deserving of my help.

I heard Elie Wiesel on NPR tonight, before talking to D., actually. I've never been one of Wiesel's biggest fans, but hearing him as opposed to reading him allowed to me to stop thinking of him as pretentious. He actually seems like an incredibly beautiful person. He said two things that struck me in particular, the latter of which I actually hurried to scribble down while driving on the freeway, given my fascination with stories and why they're told:

"Peace is not God's gift to us, it is our gift to each other."


"What else can we do today but tell the story, and hope the story itself becomes a prayer?"

I should add that this "D" is not the same as the one mentioned earlier. All cab driver names used in this blog are just the first initial of the first name, so there will be overlap and confusion. I guess that there are ways of remedying this, but I don't really care.


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