I usually don’t carry passenger’s luggage. Carrying people’s stuff on my back used to be a habit. Maybe it was an effective distraction from dealing with my own stuff. But, some people show up with so much luggage, no one person can carry it.
Some of it belongs to earlier generations. Some of it belongs to all of us.
Last night I picked up a passenger who had nothing in her hands, but seemed to be carrying the weight of all the women who’ve ever lived on her back. (I wonder if all women do that?) I could see it in her eyes.
When I was in college I used to throw a towel over the lamp to create a dimming effect. That’s what her eyes reminded me of. I could hear it in her voice. When she spoke, it was as if her tongue were trying to lift a 10 lb. ball. Maybe 10,000 balls, each one carrying the voices of all her grandmothers. She was tired. I wasn’t even sure she’d have the energy to engage me, but was polite enough to make small talk.
Even when people make small talk, there’s almost always one sentence that slips out screaming and waving red flags like the guy at the Indy 500. Sure enough, within a few minutes she let slip that she was visiting on business from another city and had concerns about how “red” Texas is. Subtle cues about her politics oozed out, and she wasn’t feeling good about things.
Just the night before, Elizabeth Warren had been shut down by Republican Senators when she tried reading Coretta Scott King’s letter about Jeff Sessions. Maybe that’s when the towel got thrown over her bulb. Or, maybe that was just the 7 zillionth towel. \
How many towels does it take before a light goes out?
I asked her, “How do you feel about what happened to Elizabeth Warren last night?” Without skipping a beat she shot back, “Disgusting.” She never raised her voice. Her “disgusting” sounded like the spark of a white-hot flame shooting out from under a giant wet blanket. It was white-hot, not settling for blue, not feeling good about red, and definitely not going for orange. Lets call it a “persistent” flame. A persistent white-hot flame buried under a giant wet blanket. “Disgusting”. That was it.
I let the echo of that spark bounce around inside the car for a few moments because I’m sure if I tried to touch it I would have gotten burned. Gently, I began to probe, “I’m curious, how often in your life have you been told to “shut up and sit down…” She didn’t let me finish. She answered my question by finishing it, “by MEN!” That was all she said, then she spit out a laugh that sounded like the striking of a match just before landing on a gas tank. Her luggage was too old for me. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t lift it. #Powerless
I wondered if being a man, I had something to do the weight of her luggage.
#GenerationalOppression: Have you ever been wounded by someone, then they come back like the white knight offering to help you recover from the crippling they gave you?
I like to think of myself as compassionate, but maybe its arrogance that makes a man think he can fix the damage he’s complicit in. Anyway, she wasn’t asking for my help. As tired as she was, there was never a time I felt in charge of the conversation. To the contrary, the woman exuded a power that filled the space in the car. She was a General who reeked of confidence. She exuded the self-assuredness of knowing who she was. She wasn’t asking for approval. She wasn’t asking for permission to exist or speak. She owned the space by her presence.
I didn’t know what to say. Maybe it’s a man thing, but when I feel powerless, I try to fix things. So, I tried to lift her luggage. “Don’t worry”, I said. “This regime won’t last. We’re gonna get him out.” She wasn’t moved. Despite her fatigue she was unwavering. “He’s not going to be impeached,” she instructed. “That’s not going to happen. The Republicans are getting to do everything they want now. They’re going to protect him. He’s here for the next 4 years. He’s not going anywhere.” She said this matter-of-factly, as if she had actual, not-so-alternative facts.
“Lets just hope people can channel their anger and go to the polls next time,” she said. As she was getting out, I asked her, “By the way, what you do for a living?” She turned to me and said, “I’m a political consultant. Good night.” She shut the door and marched off like a General, each step slamming down with the quiet, white-hot fury of 10,000 persistent women.
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