In the power of a Moroccan madman


Marrakech was great… At night.

We needed to get to the train station and the sign on the Marrakech bank said 46° C. My boiling brain calculated for a second…115°F? Yup. No, no way my ex-girlfriend and I were going to walk two miles across concrete oven streets in that. Time for a taxi.

One problem. We’d stepped out of the bus station a few days before to watch the only taxi in sight be chased off by a crowd of shouting men banging on the windows and throwing shoes at the windshield. The taxi drivers of Morocco were on strike.

morocco-window-grateI believe in unions and collective bargaining. I believe they’re among the essential tools for the progress of our species. But as the sign clicked up to 47°C I was glad to see a strike breaker cruise past in a beat up old Hyundai. My ex climbed in back, I took the passenger seat, and away we went.

We were at the tail end of two months in Africa and had been on a few taxi rides that were, shall we say, exhilarating? Even among a cast of maniacal rides, this one stood out. Hoping to escape the notice of the striking cabbies, he took vehicular madness to a whole new level of cuts and swerves, traffic lights are only decoration, and wrong way on a one-way street, all at the poor little Hyundai’s maximum velocity. The brain-addling heat can’t have helped (AC? hahaha) and it being the middle of Ramadan so he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since dawn probably didn’t help either.

In situations like that I’d learned to just sit back and relax. Nothing to do about it. Fretting and tensing up were useless, and they say that only adds to your odds of serious injury anyway. So I just sat back and observed to see if we’d survive the ride.

morocco-jeweler-stoolWe did! To my delight, we arrived at the train station intact. I paid him and climbed out into the sandblasting sunlight. The second he pulled away my ex broke out with “What was THAT?!?”

“Probably a new record for crazy,” I laughed some precious moisture into the air. “He was an even worse driver than that guy in Dar Es Salaam…”

“No! I don’t mean his driving. I mean what was the deal with that head wound?”

That whatnow? From my passenger seat perspective I’d missed what she had been staring at the whole time. Apparently the guy had a large open wound still leaking bodily fluid from the torn flesh that stretched across the back third of his skull. Oh. I hadn’t thought to check that before getting in.

The ability to sit back and accept the reality of the moment is essential, both in travel and normal life. But even though I tried so hard to stay away from Trump for this post, and the looming danger for America that’s about to break, this, as with everything else, is caught up in the imminent danger of his presidency.

Because when you’re speeding across Marrakech in a taxi driven by a head-wounded madman, it’s kinda too late to do anything. You’re not going to wrest the steering wheel away from him. And to be honest, I don’t think we can wrest the wheel away from the Alt Right either. Not yet. But this is not a time for acceptance. Not a time to sit back and wait to see what form the suffering may take. This is a time for active intervention.


Oddly enough, Morocco was having elections at the time. Each box represents a party/candidate.

Because this is not normal. This is not my America. This is not something to just accept. I don’t know how to oppose it, and I ask your help in finding ways, because we as a nation are much worse off than unsuspecting passengers in the power of a skull-cracked whacko. Our lunatic has a cabinet of human vileness for an executive branch, a compliant legislative branch, and a vulnerable judicial branch. Oh, and the nuclear codes but no understanding of diplomacy or the realities of the world today.

So no, don’t sit back and wait. Let’s help each other find ways to do better than that. Complacency is for safer times.

(An easy one, if you believe in the core American values of freedom of expression, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, right to clean water, the government’s responsibility to protect and respect its citizens, all that good stuff, and/or you don’t like when police spray protesters with water cannons when it’s in the low 20s, and you have a Citibank account (or TD, Mizuho) you can tell them you don’t like what they’re funding. It’s easier than you think to switch banks, and money seems to count more than votes these days.)