Sunday-- February 17, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 159
Where Have All The Cab Flags Gone?
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb 16--Naked. Stripped.
Bare. Empty. Gone. Zero.
The cab flags.
Once, the parade of yellow cabs zipping up and down the street
looked like a Fourth of July parade. Flags flapped
and snapped from the front antenna of the New York City Cab
Fleet, the back, out the windows.
They were placed
on dashboards, rear windows.
When you crawled
in a cab, you were washed in red, white and blue.
The drivers, mostly
from the Middle East, smiled and glanced at you in the rear
view mirror with that "I'm-An-American-Patriot-Not-A-Terrorist"
Flags were once his
Shield of Vigilance. They were his armor--protecting him
from those bigots and paranoids who got back at the Middle
Eastern populace by not tipping, or by spitting invectives,
or assuming because the cabbie smelled differently, or displayed
some 'idol' swinging on the rear view middle post that he was
an alien, part of a cell seeking some new target to destroy
in the name of Islam.
Those days are gone.
The cabbies know. Otherwise they wouldn't strip off their
I've watched for
the day the flags would disappear. It would be the Day
of Complacency! It would be the drumbeat September 11
had run its mourning course, and life's new challenges buried
the memories for the average cab rider. But like those
who watch water to see it boil, I had no luck. So,
I forgot to watch--until last night when suddenly I saw the
transformation. I saw the nakedness. I saw
They were gone.
Those ubiquitous American
Cab Flags had been stripped clean by the vultures of Complacency.
Normalcy--whatever that is--sank its teeth back into the city.
Water was now more of the
Terrorist than the hunt for Osama bin Laden's gang.
Everyone in the city is
talking about the lack of being served water at restaurants.
There is a drought impending. The Mayor holds up the Silver
Chalice of Life--an empty water glass.
He beseeches the citizens to preserve the ancient elixir of
life. He strikes the fear of dehydration into the
souls of millions. No wonder the flag have melted away
from the cabs.
It is the cycle of Life,
one Terror replaces another. Water versus September 11--which
means more on February 17, 2002?. Burning Twin Towers
are engulfed by the empty glass, or the picture of a dripping
faucet. These are our current signals of Terror--these
are today's true threats to the citizens of New York City.
Today's Terrorist is someone who wastes water.
H20, two parts hydrogen, one
part oxygen. Without it, everything dries up and
blows away. The flags on cabs have.
They are the first victims of the drought. They are Terrorism's
true weather vane.
Vigilance--the art of dealing
with impending dangers--has taken on a liquid meaning.
Homeland Security shifts. Now it involves calling
your superintendent to fix leaky faucets. It means reporting
restaurants who serve water without asking if anyone wants some.
It means the guy or gal who wash their cars in the street should
be thrown in jail, and surely need their names passed on to
the FBI as possible Water Terrorists.
As the summer approaches, vile creatures who suckle water voraciously
will rob the children of the cooling spray from the city's countless
water parks that sprout rain on hot children's heads and feet,
cooling them in the blaze of a summer's day.
If Water Terrorists continue
unchecked, the pool at Washington Square will be littered with
papers, void of its satisfying wading pond that gives children
respite from Sol's rays.
New York cabbies know the
shift in Vigilance is from Patriotism to Liquefaction Preservation.
The cabbie who wants to endear himself to me will offer me a
bottle of Evian--filled of course with tap water.
Things change. Water replaces flags. The King is dead;
Long live the King!
Terrorism ebbs and floods.
The ebbing is the absence of flags on cabs; the flooding
the fear of water deprivation. Drought means
you have to "stop and think" whether you need that
glass of water, or that extra shower, or how many times you
need to flush the toilet.
Street people will become the
heroes of the drought. They rarely bathe. They drink
little water because they supplant it with alcohol.
They will become the drought's Sentinels of Vigilance--symbols
of those who deprive themselves of water for others--the Saints
The cabbies know this.
They are the crows of Vigilance,
cawing out the new threat by displacing the symbol of the past
one--the once prominent and dominant flags.
Perhaps they will fly flags with water bottles on them as the
threat of the drought increases. I wonder.
I only know times change.
I can tell by the cabs.
They are my historians of the
They speak the visceral news
better than CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NY-1.
They have their Middle Eastern
ears to the rail.
They can hear the city gasping
for a drink of water.
They know the red, white and
blue isn't the key to their safety, their security.
So is Sparkletts.
Cool, clear water. Yes.
That's the core of today's Vigilance.
My dilemma--do I wave a flag
or take a drink of water?
To Feb. 16--Death Of A Soul Buddy