No, this isn’t about the song that has people calling Post Malone the relationship whisperer of the ’20s. Nor about why Of Monsters And Men would feel that it was incumbent upon them to remake this with an adult contemporary vibe…while Post Malone’s version was still getting airplay.

Indeed, this is about the phenomenon I experience while driving occasionally – a strangely frequent occurrence, actually – where I experience strange geographical orbits or find recurring conversational themes with my passengers or whatnot.

For example, the other day a passenger got into my car and I could feel something. It was in an area of town I don’t get to often. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever picked up one person there before prior to this. The pick up is just a block past The Cajun and The Canadian’s house, so I was wondering if maybe I’d passed them driving down the street and not noticed them because I was looking at house addresses.

Nah, it was that I’d picked up the same guy and failed to realize it. He reminded me about halfway through our ride. And moments later, while we were still “catching up” another ride piled on and it was a passenger I recognized by name – how many non-Grace & Frankie characters do you know named Coyote? But he had a good 15 minute wait for me to drop off my current passenger and eventually dropped off.

It’s just as well, though. I call my repeat riders the 1% Club because it’s only about every hundredth ride I get a familiar face.

Two back-to-back would have been weird.

So I drop off this passenger and as I’m pulling out of the drive, get a ride to replace Coyote. The Lyft Life always seem to keep me busy, even when I miss out on rides because another driver frees up to get one that’s stacked on my queue.

It was another 1% Clubber.

Two would have been weird…three was nuts. Not that my rider was as amazed as I was – and I kept my awe pretty well checked, but she showed me how to really play it cool.

Hey, I never said the 1% Club was exclusively cool.

Anyway…any guesses what topic might have come up repeatedly throughout this past weekend?


Yeah. Take your pick.

George Floyd.

Defunding Police.

Protests – attending, traffic – stuck in, complaining about, managing, just…discussing.

And I’ll be honest, I learned so much!

Just by asking a question and then shutting my mouth.

It was a powerful weekend. I took today off of driving just to decompress and true to my ovalesque form, I’m gonna work it through here. Feel free to expand upon, agree, disagree, tell me I’m up in the night, tell me you learned something or whatever in the comments.

Let’s start off with the smartest man I’ve witnessed in quite a while. Sadly, this was not one of my passengers.

Brilliant, no?

Assuming cops read better than Trump…

First – or second, depending on how you define the phrase “Let’s start off with” in the hierarchical nature of lists – let’s go back to one of my posts from last week, ACAB. You can bet as I’m giving protesters a lift here or there or just debriefing the events of the past week with riders that this came up. And there’s me

You know what no one has really been able to make me understand?

…like I’m some kind of Seinfeld knockoff.

Not that it made me feel any better, but I found that I wasn’t the only person who felt disease at the radical catchphrase-cum-urban-art gaining steam as mainstream messaging. That made me feel a little less like a liberal Benedict Arnold, but my goal – my hope – was really to still come away from these conversations with greater understanding.

Hell, I have to admit, though, that it was gratifying to meet people who I could tell were taking time to think about my concerns over the hyperbole of “All Cops Are Bastards”. My assumption, I told people was that there was a story behind it, but I just didn’t know it. If I didn’t know it, as an average Joe, what if others simply took it at face value and suddenly good cops became collateral damage?

I’m glad that I could see people turning my concerns over.

Best answer?

A rider told me to think of it this way: ACAB is to cops what Original Sin is to Christianity. It comes with the badge, not the person.

Me: Why? Tell me more.

Basically, good people become complicit – regardless of other motivations for joining the force – once they put on the badge. Probably, it wouldn’t have resonated with me as much had another rider not told me something about police history that I did not know.

From Original Sin to Origin Story, if you will.

Not that other countries before us didn’t have a police force, but where policing really kicked into high gear in this country was with slavery. We needed people to patrol as a deterrent to escape and whatnot. These folks were called paddyrollers. When slavery ended, that shifted to ensuring safety for white people from freed slaves.

I’d never thought of it through that particular lens. Naturally, I came home looking for information and was amazed at the little nuggets I picked up – although I’m certainly not ready for any sort of Jeopardy by any means.

At this point, I was attenuated to this origin story. Things kept jumping out at me, including a quote about how necessary police were to protect Whites from freed slaves. I swear I screen shotted that quote, but fuck if I can find it now. So take this little gem as a break from heavy subject matters instead.

Sometimes I love the interwebs and the dweebs that inhabit the joint.

One final question I felt compelled to ask of a few people was about minority cops.

If all cops ARE bastards, are Black cops not just modern day Uncle Toms?

A good chunk of the people admitted they didn’t know or had never even considered that in the context of police brutality.

One Black passenger shared a story about someone she knew whose grandmother basically disowned him after their becoming a cop. But another – while not answering the question directly – flipped the question to something equally enlightening: double minorities.

This rider asked me to consider that once you’re a cop, your other identities are beside the point. That can actually result in Black cops being the object of fear and even hatred in their own community because the community doesn’t know where the loyalties lie or shake out.

Is it Black, Badge or Badge then Black when it comes down to it? Or is there even an answer?

“Think of gay Black men”, he said, clearly pegging me. Because of the stigma of homosexuality in the Black community, a lot of gay Black men are actually afraid of other Black men.

And I had to admit that this clearly stoned Black man in my back seat was a genius for making that complex point.

If I’d come out of the weekend with only that understanding of ACAB, I’d still call that a solid understanding win. As a matter of fact, I wish I could travel back to last Thursday and share just that with my passengers who engaged on this topic.

Tangential to that topic was just plain old protest messaging. In the post I linked to above, I discuss briefly how integrity – or its lack – is a trigger for me. That’s where my initial ACAB resistance started…All.

But there were other stories shared, individual awareness raised and even behavioral modification commitments made.

A couple of my favorite shared stories:

A person told me about being at a protest and finally understanding the difference between a peaceful protest and a nonviolent protest. We both agreed that violence was not an end goal either would appreciate, but then they went on to point out that protests are generally disruptive.

One of the reasons permits are required

I offered, trying to demonstrate understanding.

Peaceful protests are what you’ll see on a street corner with a few people waving signs or hanging banners from freeway overpasses. Non-violent protests are more raucous by nature because while the intent isn’t to hurt anyone, they aren’t above breaking a window or starting a fire to drive a point home. But property destruction isn’t violent, per se. It’s in your face, but for reform to happen, sometimes the impetus is financial versus moral.

I can still hear my question echoing in my head as the conversation leaps riders and morphs slightly in the process. This rider had been at a protest and seen plastic water bottles being thrown at cops by a couple of hooligans in their midst. Their fear was tear gas – again – or rubber bullets. Or worse yet, the sonic sound weapon (I think it’s called an LSAD) that the police had used after the mayor shut down tear gas. They’d have preferred tear gas. They came prepared with water bottles that were a baking soda and water mix, effective in taking the sting out of tear gas.

They had been happy to see the crowd shout down the water bottle chuckers, crying out “non-violent protest!” until they slinked away.

Indeed, I saw an example of this myself. Protesters at the fence around our Justice Center reacting when someone at the front climbed up on the fence to flick his cardboard sign at the police standing inside. They went after him. The cops, to their credit, did not react. But the fear was rubber bullets.

In that regard, I think Portland’s police force has responded in a more measured manner than elsewhere in the country. Obviously, not perfectly, but better.

Still, that gas and the (possibly called) LSAD came up more than once over the weekend. Mainly as examples of the police being militarized. Defensive statements in the argument to defund the police.

One rider passionately made the connection to militarizing the police being akin to the precise reason police needed to be defunded in the first place.

If the police have the military grade weapons, they’re going to use them – even if it’s to break up a peaceful group protesting between the White House and a church so the President can walk across the park for a photo op.

Great example of an argument against.

But another great example of the circles I experience in my car. Because there we are, right back where we started. Defund the Police doesn’t mean disband the police.

It’s hyperbole, once again.

It’s not that all cops are bastards and let’s turn the country into one big Florida gated community patrolled by polo wearing mall cops in golf carts by defunding the actual police.

The hyperbole obscured the point: reduce funding for things like police in schools and transit police. Hell, one rider posited even meter maids could go or be severely reduced – “Their budget is already paid by our taxes, excessive parking tickets just creates double taxation!”

But those branches of the force that would be eliminated would have their funding redirected toward better response alternatives. Mental health responders or substance abuse counselors being deployed with a goal of getting people in crisis the help they need connecting to resources that will help them – also funded through defunding ineffective police programs – versus getting them into contact with police officers without quality training to really protect and serve their communities.

And on that note – before I leave you to digest – I’ll pat Portland on the back again. In my nine months of driving with Lyft, I’ve had exactly one bad experience.

Riders ask me this all the time. Ok, hyperbole aside…often.

I picked up a young lady who was going to her boyfriend’s. She needed to stop on the way, it turned out, at a RiteAid to get a bandage.

No problem, I told her – as I do anyone who asks to stop or reroute during a ride. “It’s your ride, I’ll go where you tell me!” Then she thrusts her arm into my field of vision and says her dog bit her as she was leaving.

In retrospect, my best guess is that she’d been drinking at home and messing around with the canine equivalent of Myrtle, who stopped her shenanigans by sending a “Game Over” message in the only way that this rider would understand.

So I stop off at the RiteAid, not yet having connected the drinky dots.

She comes out and starts tending to her wound as I continue on.

Then she slips into Kitty Dukakis mode.

By the time I get to her destination – a shopping mall versus her boyfriend’s – she’s zonked out in the back, still sitting up. I can’t wake her up.

After several minutes of no-to-groggy responses, I use the emergency toggle in the app. I’m having a conversation about her as she settles deeper into unconsciousness in the back. The agent I’m talking to dispatches police while I’m on the line.

Here’s the great thing.

Sure, the police come. But en route, based on what they know, they call a secondary unit to meet them. One that is designed to get drunks to a safe, non-jail place to sober up instead of placing them under arrest or citing them for public intoxication.

This isn’t even a traditional drunk tank.

This woman won’t even have a blip on her record for this…I think that’s a perfect example of defunding to de-escalate potential scenarios where police contact could devolve into police violence. Sure, Portland double-dipped on the response since there was a police team and the – I dunno what they’re called – Intervention Squad? But the police team knew to facilitate the hand off versus being directly involved. They were trained enough to have an attempted assessment type conversation with my passenger and then let her be until their backup arrived to take over.

A great experience.

The best part?

What am I not telling you?

The mall – Lloyd Center – serves a traditionally Black demographic.

How might this scenario had played out in Minneapolis? Or Ferguson, MO? Or Brunswick, GA?

For as much reform work as we have ahead of us as a country and as imperfect as Portland Police Bureau is simply for being the police…at least we have a liberal community that has made some imperfect efforts that have yielded enough imperfect results to make me confident that regardless of national legislative police reform, we’ll be able to make local impacts that will at least let our minuscule minority community get a head start. Gimp legged as it may be…


Free Thinking Matters

Ok, I’m admittedly riled up here.

I’m pretty sure it’s not strictly me being a grumpy old man relative to a frustrating lunch I had at one of my favorite burritories.


I paid the standard $2 for a stupid fountain soda and was then given a water sized cup and I asked whether that was right only to be told, “We ran out of the small size”.

Well, give me a large size, then.

“It’s ok, you can fill it up as many times as you want.”

Great, because that’s what I paid $2 for?  To run my legs off between my table and the soda fountain.  Yeah…

And then the guy that ordered after me got served before me.

And some jerk – probably from out of town since he was reading a book with a Powell’s receipt sitting beside it and we were a block from Powell’s – was sitting alone at a six-top table, even though there were four two-tops available.  Hey, buddy, that behavior right there isn’t helping you make five friends.

Oh, and the front door with the handwritten sign that says “Please CLOSE the door behind you” kept getting left open and people lining up ten feet inside of it were not feeling the intent of my glares cast at their back side intended to prompt them to turn around and close the door.

I should probably have my “intent glare” looked at, might be malfunctioning.

So, I kept closing the door.


To no avail.

But then I watched a guy – who had managed to close the door behind him – stand in line for five minutes with a tag hanging off of the back of his pants.  People pointed it out to their dining companions.  The lady behind him kept looking at it and looking away, embarrassed or uncomfortable…I don’t know which.

But no one told him.

So, I calmly finished my last bite, put my plate in the bus bin, took my squeezy salsa dispenser back to the cooler and refilled my tiny soda cup; pausing on my way by the gentleman to demonstrate to the room that you can actually do something nice without going too far out of your way.  I casually placed a hand on his elbow to get his attention, leaned in and said, “Hey, you broke dipshit, you have a fucking tag from TJMaxx on your fucking trousers”.

Just kidding, I just told him he’d forgotten to remove the price tag from his pants.  Because I’m grumpy, but I’m still nice!  It kind of became apparent to me that as much as I bitch about low-bar-first-world-entitled-white-guy problems, I’m still able to say that I’m part of the solution and not part of the problem because I’ll do something.  Even – and preferably – if it’s just a small gesture to make the world a little better.

Then I glared at everyone else as I left and closed the door behind me.

They didn’t seem to notice.

And then I saw this mess on a friend’s Facebook page and the caption she included with it was,

“Look at her body language.  Look at the way she approaches this person.  Don’t let racist grandma into office.  She does not deserve to be the first ‘female’ president.”


Part of the problem.

But the comments, even more troubled me.


“Disappointing” from the Original Poster.

“Her condescending tone and general demeanor in the last couple of encounters she had are so infuriating, it enrages me to no end.”

“She clearly has a particular kind she is working to appeal to.” from the OP again.


I somehow resisted adding my $.02 on her page, because it’s hers and I don’t want to take over her thread.

And because she’s vocally trans and I can’t use a pronoun on her page without getting called out as a hater.  Notice the quotation marks she uses around the word female in her caption.  I’m pretty much fucked for even trying to talk sense to someone so steeped in their own political issue that they can’t see beyond it…so I made a cowardly retreat to my blog to share my opinion.

Because, that I can do.

Here’s what I tapped out on my phone in my abandoned comment:

Don’t unfriend me here, but I worry you could fall off that high political perch.

People can be a little right and a little wrong in their actions every day much more easily than they can be 100% right or 100% wrong…whether it’s Facebook or politics.

Black Lives Matters seems to be making a habit out of planting slightly naive and camera-sympathetic people in situations like this to manipulate public opinion to their benefit.  They’re nothing more that political streakers or political suicide bombers.  Take you pick.  Don’t allow them to program your view to such an extent that you see only what they want you to see:  mean old racist Hillary being bitchy to some innocent and sweet school kid’s backpack wearing black girl.  Or “girl” or whatever punctuation is preferred with pronouns these days.

Free Thinking Matters.  You’re “frustrated” and “disappointed” and that’s just the point of these types of stunts; not to present any viable alternative, just to unsettle people and create more chasms within the public which – sadly – probably only discourages people from voting since the end result is no candidate is perfect and we’ve all been paralyzed by the realization of the impotence our vote will have in creating a difference.

See the whole candidate picture and not the single issue.  That party-dividing infighting is what gets you Trump as POTUS.  Because BLM sure doesn’t seem to stand behind or with any democratic front runner, do they?  Isn’t that basically a tacit show of support for the other party, then?

Grumpy old Xtopher.

The voice of treason.

Just 250-ish words on what the problem is…in a place it wasn’t appropriate, so I brought it here, where a couple dozen people might see it versus plopping it on her comment thread were all of 500-ish of her friends might see it and form a pack to hunt me down and make me pay for the privilege of my race, gender and birth year.

But here’s the deal, treasonous or not, I think the core of my argument is valid.

I watched a Chelsea Does on Netflix this morning and in it she talked about how our cultural attention span is three minutes.

That’s on a good day.

That’s what’s working against voters these days:  themselves.

We get so worked up about whatever the news or social media tells us to that we almost immediately forget the last thing we got all worked up about.



No, Drumpf.

Wait…is nonstick cookware still bad for us?!?

If we’re lucky, we manage to sink our teeth into what opposes one of our own selfish issues or interests and hang on for three minutes.

The effect it seems to be having isn’t to polarize us around one candidate or the other to the point that it makes a difference, it seems to have just the opposite effect.  The only people really talking about it are the radical fringe elements within the party, not the well-reasoned core.

Maybe that well-reasoned core is like the American middle class…extinct.

Maybe middle-aged white guys will make a comeback as that core.  The people who don’t care about just one thing.  I used to.  My cause was – for a minute – gay rights.  But by the time it had morphed into just Equality, I didn’t have the same passion for it.  I think that’s what happens when you grow up.  You get perspective and lose that naiveté for a single issue as your temperament naturally begins to mellow and you can see a broader picture, maybe even see the news cycle for what it is:  justifying the cost of the Network’s advertising rates.

Now, if you’re a rich old white guy, you employ those naive youngsters with the energy to match their passion and pay them to adopt and protect your passion:  money.

That’s a different story.

But on the sidelines of this particular debate, you have voters watching these special interest groups in some sort of well-informed yet screamingly ignorant battle royale about what’s wrong with every other candidate, not propping their candidate up so much as tearing the other down.  Ignoring the other party to a fair degree and just splintering their own party’s ability to function as a whole.  It’s all about Black Lives Mattering or Trans-Rights or Women’s Reproductive Rights or Obama filling the open SCOTUS seat or whatever.

For once, I find myself thinking, “Don’t focus, people”.

Sadly, the people who lose aren’t the candidates running for office but the country as a whole because then we truly do end up with the inconceivable:

President Donald J Drumpf.


Because our collective emotional intelligence as a country seems to match our three minute attention span.  We aren’t going to care about voting if it’s not for the candidate we supported.  We fatalistically write the election off as a loss since our efforts to discredit the opposing candidate for our party that we believe that they can’t win or don’t deserve the office, so complete is the candidate-specific fervor and propaganda.  We indict the process and cede the election to the other party just because we’re brats having a fit that can’t see past our own foot stomping, snot streaming into our mouth bawling fit to still act for the greater good.

Ultimately, my comment on the video was just recusing the validity of my own opinion and encouraging people to just vote, regardless of their thoughts on the opposing candidates.  After all, I admit that I’m not the most attentive or best informed or most passionate political observer.  I listen to what the candidates say, look at what they’ve done and then make a decision.  I don’t need a year and a half to make or support my decision.

That’s ridiculous.

This was not the blog entry I intended today…this puts me a little off track for this week’s schedule, but you all know that I’m nothing if not loose with my posting timeline.



Free Thinking Matters