Trafficking With the Enemy

Is there a state terrorist who’s more mollycoddled and subsidized than a driver?

Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands, as the good book says.  Car terrorism is always at least one order of magnitude greater than any other 9-11, since annual deaths from cars in the U.S. are always at least ten times that of any other domestic terror event.

Consider the fat-housed suburban driver rampant upon the killing fields beneath the urban forest, his body as tumescent as the house whose driveway he left this morning.  The suburban driver in the urban forest: her hand ever ready with the horn of battle, spittled lips puckered with imprecations for his and her victims. Such a driver quivers with the pleasures of the hunt; the feed trough of an urban job beckons; bike-laned buttocks hang above her front bumper like fruit for the picking.

Few terrorist states make their victims pay for the bullet used to shoot them, but pedestrians are forced to pony up in order to gild in chrome the massive blunt objects forced upon them and their children in their own neighborhoods, and at the appointed hour of destiny the sewers run red with the blood of the children.  It’s the gilded age.  Taunts in chrome are positioned upon the killing machines.  They twinkle in the sunlight.

Did you ever wonder where the blood of the children on the street goes after the children die?

Here comes a lost driver now, face screened in the smoke of the glass.  Jolly reindeer horns made in China sprout from the side windows to touch with macabre hilarity a scene already drenched in irony.  Perhaps she will answer this blood question for us.  Perhaps he will tell us why we have to pay for traffic lights when pedestrian culture doesn’t need them.  Perhaps she can account for these great trenches of tar smashing their way through our neighborhood when pedestrian culture doesn’t need them.  Perhaps he can help us account for the lack of gardens on roofs all over the city so that distant food markets can continue to profit from us and continue to send trucks in to the city to park in the bike lanes and give us crap food and sugar drinks.  Perhaps he or she can direct us to the affordable intercity train.  Oh wait, there isn’t one.  We got rid of it.  Perhaps she can tell us why, despite every effort on her part to equalize her bulk and that of her vehicle, it still outweighs her body by one?pushing two?order(s) of magnitude.  Or perhaps, despite tax upon tax used to enrich the suburbs at the expense of the city, we have through some oversight failed to pay enough, and this suburban driver has come for the difference.

Oh listen, his horn is braying to get our attention, as if the power of several hundred horses too many had not already alerted us with its fanfare.

“Bloor and Ossington, please.”  Her face is pleasant and open, the bland comfortable face of the friendly Canadian, the very picture of innocence.

“Bloor and Ossington?  Hmm, now let’s see.  Certainly sir.  But I think you have to turn around.  I’ll be happy to tell you the way.  I think anyone in these parts would be more than happy to tell you where to go.”

* * *

The routine city driver receives, in all our street-tested reports from seewalk-the-ungoogleable, our unending contempt, anger, and creative directions.  The driver between cities receives, on the other hand, our pity.  I append, then, a special holiday prayer this season for the long-distance driver, abandoned not just by trains but by inexpensive skateways, canals, sailways, snoways?all the simple ways that could have been in place for moving long distances without beating the dead horse of horsepower.

The Long-Distance Driver’s Holiday Prayer

If I die before I wake,
That’s one less turn
I’ll have to take.

Amen.

DAVID Ker THOMSON lives in the continent of N’Am.  dave.thomson@utoronto.ca

 

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