Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th, 2001

On the morning of September 11th I woke up next to my truck on a Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico. I’d camped out on a ridge a few miles from Route 666 not far from Shiprock, sleeping on the ground because the truck bed was filled with boxes of clothes. The sun had just risen and everything to the west – hills, mountains, trees - were lit bright pink, slowly turning to orange. Apart from some phone lines and fencing, everything looked pretty much as it would have 10,000 years ago and I wish I’d spent more time just watching the sunrise that morning.

Like most of us though I had things I thought were important that needed to get done. For some reason the four-wheel drive in my truck, which was still under warranty, had started kicking in and out on its own, so I headed for the Toyota dealership in Farmington. I pulled into the service bay at Farmington Toyota and got out of the truck, leaving the engine running. A couple of service technicians gathered around my 2001 Tacoma as it sat there clicking and whirring in and out of four-wheel drive like some angry, possessed machine. “Never seen anything like that before…” one of them said, Then a woman came out of the customer lounge and said “You all really need to see this…” in an odd and serious way, and we all filed in to the lounge and watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center over and over again. My truck, along with everything else in the world ceased to be important.

Two years earlier I’d decided the most useful thing I could do, given the resources I had, was to collect warm clothes, pack them in my truck and drive them out to the poorest, coldest and most isolated people I could find: Indian reservations, urban homeless, and villages high up in the Sierra Madres. During that time I’d delivered literally tons of clothes and blankets to thousands of the poorest, most isolated people on the continent. I had no idea what drove those men to fly those planes into the buildings, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t part of the problem.

After the towers fell, one of the technicians showed me how to manually disconnect the four-wheel drive entirely and I started back to my wife and home in San Diego. Along the way I stopped in small reservation towns, leaving boxes of clothing off at tribal headquarters and chapterhouses. While the dusty little villages of the Navajo Nation were about as far removed from lower Manhattan as any place could be, the pall had reached them too. A terrible thing had happened, and beyond that there really wasn’t much more to say.

“Thank you for the clothes.”

“You’re welcome.”

Driving back across the desert I turned on talk radio and listened to it for the next two years. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I’d been wrong about the attacks – apparently they were my fault. Not just me, but my Mom, Dad, wife, brother, and pretty much everybody I knew… we were responsible. The Liberals. The Do-Gooders. Not only had we brought on the attacks, but unless we were stopped we were going to destroy the rest of the country too.
It took less than a week for my radio to turn on me, all across the dial. It was like the entire AM band had started broadcasting directly from Rwanda, and it's been that way ever since. I knew I couldn't reach millions of Americans like Hannity and Limbaugh did, but I could damn sure reach a couple hundred thousand.
So can you.


blurbees.com said...

when are you gonna write a book?

or maybe make a movie?

Anonymous said...

i second that emotion

Pavel Chekov said...

You should sell those clothes & blankets and buy a new truck.

Freewayblogger said...

Actually, the "off-demand" four-wheel drive glitch was the only thing that's gone wrong with the truck in seven years and over a quarter million miles of some pretty hard driving. I've gone through two clutches but, get this, am still on the original brakes! Brakes perform a negative function, so I drive in such a way as to minimize their use. Same with the gas: the amount of gas you use is directly proportional to how hard you step on the pedal, so I drive and shift in such a way as to minimize its use. If everyone drove like that we'd probably cut down our gas consumption by 15 - 20%.

Of course, if someone really wants to save the planet they'd buy me a hybrid. (I'm talking to you Mr. DiCaprio...)