Aborted cab ride.

06 March 2010 - 12:13 a.m.

Some time ago I was watching an episode of "The first 48" because they had an episode set in Tucson. Normally I don't like the show much as everything seems so artificial -- stick a camera in anyone's face, and you're unlikely to get a natural response out of them. For me, it's a weak substitute for Bill Kurtis' superbly written "Cold Case Files," of which I'm a fan.

This episode was different. It was so quiet, the officers so grim, the murder so violent and random. Three people called a taxi driver at night. The taxi driver, Tim, probably didn't know what hit him when one of the passengers shot and killed him. They left him in an alley next to his taxi. Why did they do this? It was a half-baked attempt at a random robbery to obtain money in order to bail a friend from jail.

Tim's girlfriend was 3 months pregnant at the time and they were planning their wedding. I don't know why, but I am haunted by this. I think about it from time to time as I drive back from the garage in the middle of the night.




23 February 2010 - 1:26 a.m.

Both my hands ache.

The muscles up and down both arms, spent, are twitching this evening. There's that point when you've done so much exertion that it's hard to keep steady.

I have about 3 days stubble. Maybe I'll grow it out.

Listen: there's no time to dally. I've waited far too long to go down the right track, and I have too much to try to go and accomplish.


I don't know why, but I was thinking about something that happened at my sister's wedding some 10 years ago. I was in New York at the time, and the wedding and the ceremony had just finished. My brother-in-law's family, of course, was there, and he had an uncle, elderly, named Steve. New York brownstones can be a nightmare for the elderly, all steps and no easy access. Steve had just filed out the door and in a moment, lost his footing and went crashing to the floor. I didn't know who had just fallen at the time it happened.

I did something very peculiar. Without thinking about it, I started yelling, "Dad!! DAD!" and bolted across the lobby towards to the door. In my mind, it was my father who had fallen, though he was in another part of the building. When I got to the door, Steve had picked himself and continued to walk on as if nothing had happened. I stood there dumbfounded. Nobody else had noticed what had happened, neither with Steve nor with me. I stood there in my crisp suit in the doorway, watching Steve amble down the sidewalk.

I remember something else that happened a few years back. I was standing on a subway platform, waiting for the downtown 1. It was relatively late at night, and at the time the MTA was doing this weird thing where the 2 and 3 would go down the 1 track and not stop at that particular station. As I stood there, a 2 rolled slowly by, and in one of the cars I observed a man getting beat up by a couple of other guys. They were really doing a number on him. The train was full of people. They sat, not intervening, pretending that nothing was happening at all.

I think about these things a lot. It kills me, just kills me, that some things within us, conflicted, can make us rise to our feet for one instance, and retreat into denial for others.




15 February 2010 - 12:10 a.m.

Some months ago, the toes of my feet rested in a comfortable box of titanium, cleverly and strategically designed into my shoes for protection; my eyes peered through polycarbonate. I had neatly rolled the sleeves of my blue workshirt above my elbows.

It was my first day at the garage. I tried not to get in the way as the other mechanics-in-training drifted about, as I did, unsure of where to go next. I had a somewhat confrontational exchange with one of the instructors as I tried to figure things out, or at least, what I was supposed to do. Things were not going smoothly.

The hulks of cars, converted into learning stations, massed into walls that had to be navigated in order to pass through the garage. Me, in the midst. The smell of exhaust. An engine turning over, here and there. An oiliness, of solvents and the drip off of equipment as degreasers did their thing. The sharp smell of ozone, someone doing electrical or metalwork, somewhere. Me, a mechanic. Self imposed exile from academia, and not in that "zen" sort of way.

That day: I picked up a wrench, and retreated back up into what should have been one of the tributaries of my life.



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