Saturday, May 1, 2010


Shift #53

FRIDAY, MAY 28 -- 11th/Minna to 23rd/Bartlett -- $7.60

TODAY I’VE BEEN ASKING EVERYONE THE SAME QUESTION: “When you woke up this morning, how long was it before the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher came to your mind?”

Answers have ranged from “Immediately!” and “As soon as I saw the front page...” to “Until I logged on and saw the top headline!” No one reports having not thought of it prior to my question.

My followup: “And have you got a sense of how long this will reverberate in our minds?”

I’ve heard: “Until they get it capped...” “Ten or fifteen years...” “Five hundred years.” Some people think the Gulf will wind up being more of a long-term shock to humanity’s consciousness and our collective way of living -- in America, as well as globally -- than 9/11 was. Some say the Gulf shock will reverberate, like Hiroshima, for decades.

My fares include: an FBI agent from DC; two urologists from Mexico; a San Francisco social worker trying to steer people toward “clean and sober” programs; a contractor from Southern California who tips me twelve bucks after a thirty-eighty dollar ride in from SFO; a corporate recruiter who earlier today was himself recruited by Google; a man from Seattle who sells imaging equipment to urologists (a convention of 18,000 urologists starts tomorrow at Moscone Center)...

Some of my fares hold out hope that much good may come out of this terrible thing: Maybe this disaster will help usher in the realization that we’re ALL in this together, and that we simply HAVE to move away from oil. But today every single one of them is aghast, and feels both powerless and at least partly responsible. (I personally feel more than partly responsible, perhaps even wholly responsible. This morning I drove my gasoline-burning car from my natural-gas-heated home to my job, which might accurately be described as “pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for ten to twelve hours a day.”)

Late in the shift I pick up the day’s youngest-looking fare -- my guess: under twenty-five. His name is Lars. He grew up in Rhode Island. He’s been in San Francisco for four years. Last night he went to a kickass concert at the Fillmore: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. During the middle, one of Lars’ friends remarked that, although the show was indeed a great one, he was having trouble enjoying it because of the Catastrophe in the Gulf. “But I keep thinking,” Lars’ friend said,” that we’d better enjoy it, because we just don’t know: Is this thing going to kill us all?”


No comments:

Post a Comment