One clear lesson that I'll take away from this weekend's travels is that big-city cab drivers hate Barack Obama. I don't want to overgeneralize, but now that I've experienced their clear-eyed arguments in two separate instances, I feel I can mark it down.
In February in Chicago, the dude behind the wheel was ranting about his intimate, personal third-hand knowledge of Obama's use of crack and interest in gay sex. (For proof, he directed us to a YouTube video of some mouth-breather talking about the times he used crack and had gay sex with the senator.)
Last night after our flight back to the left coast, we were treated to some equally well thought-out rhetoric about why nobody in their right mind would vote for Obama. The only good news about the trip was that we live five miles from the airport - so it was a mercifully short drive - and that I had exact change, so we got out of there without having to give the guy a tip. (And I always tip cab drivers - once I even tipped a guy after he picked us up, had to detour to get gas while we waited in the cab, left the meter running anyway, and then had to drop us off at a subway because the traffic was so bad.)
If I understood him correctly, the primary reasons for our driver's virulent anti-Obamaness were that (1) the driver's sister lives in Canada, where she pays 40 percent income tax, (2) Bill Clinton frequently had sex with interns while the terrorists were plotting the 9-11 attacks and (3) "hundreds of thousands" of Muslims live in the U.S. All of which was pretty convincing until the guy started swearing at us.
I generally don't like talking politics even with people I know, let alone borderline insane strangers. So when Obamahater started asking us questions about the election, that little voice was telling me: "Ignore. Tune out. Don't listen. Don't engage. Don't..." But I had just finished reading David Sedaris' "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," which includes a short story about a taxi ride during which Sedaris bitched out the cab driver for his making homophobic comments and bragging about his own, very hetero, sexual conquests. Afterwards, Sedaris wrote, he felt bad about yelling at the guy. So that was stuck in my head - I figured I'd learn from Sedaris' experience. But last night, ignoring the guy definitely would have been the way to go.
(By the way, "When You Are Engulfed" was a riot - many laughs per page. And maybe better to read in the privacy of your own home; apparently, I drew a few stares on the airplane because I was laughing so loud.)
Aside from the taxi politics, the other important knowledge I picked up - and this was thanks, indirectly, to a crossword puzzle in the latest Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine - was this: Tulsa is "a slut" backwards. If I lived there, that would really really bother me. Anyway, if that's not t-shirt worthy...