The VigilanceVoice

Sunday-- February 17, 2002
—Ground Zero Plus 159

Water Terrorism:
Where Have All The Cab Flags Gone?
Cliff McKenzie
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" look.  
        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 flags.
        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 the emptiness.
       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.
       Water rules. 
       Terrorism dies.
       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 of Stink.
       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 present.
      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.
      Evian is.  
     So is Sparkletts. 
     Cool, clear water.  Yes.  That's the core of today's Vigilance.
      I'm thirsty.
      My dilemma--do I wave a flag or take a drink of water?

     Go To Feb. 16--Death Of A Soul Buddy

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