In which our fearless editor struggles with a smashed windshield and the vague suspicion that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
I write at a table in the Flying Star on Menual. The Star’s a local café and restaurant. They do pretty good food, really. Coffee’s not bad, too. Which is fortunate, because I’ll be here for a while. The folks at the glass repair place are saying it take them a couple of hours for them to replace the window on my little truck.
It was smashed sometime last night or very early this morning. It was the passenger’s side window. Whoever broke it was quite energetic. The whole inside of the truck was full of broken shards. The driveway’s covered with them, too. Funny that we didn’t hear anything. It must have happened in the wee hours of the morning…say, two or three o’clock…when even the dog is out like a light.
If robbery was the motive, they didn’t get much. I never leave anything of value in the cab. They did get a roll of quarters that my wife had left in the truck compartment to feed the meters last time we were downtown. So, not counting the cost of replacing the glass, we’re out, maybe $10. Not exactly a grand haul for a night’s work.
So, all in all, a minor incident.
Somehow symbolic to me.
So who would have done this in the middle of the night, when all but the most nocturnal of us would be asleep? What would motivate anyone to take such risks (and had they been caught, there might have been serious consequences) for such little reward?
My wife said, as we stood in the glass on the driveway, that it was probably kids. She’s quite likely right. We’re near a park that is sometimes the after hours hangout of local teenagers. They’re not supposed to be there after dark, but they go anyway. And, of course, the overworked, understaffed, and underfunded Albuquerque police department has a lot more pressing things to worry about than keeping a few teens out of the park at night.
Just as they’ll have little time to investigate a small act of vandalism perpetrated on my truck. They don’t even take the details any more. You call in to the police non-emergency line and leave a message. Then “within 24 hours” someone gets back to you. (Which reminds me, I need to call them back. Someone with the department called me while I was on the phone with my insurance. I’ll try in a minute.)
This is not to say anything against the APD. Only that they are stretched way too far. We are emerging now, as though from illness or shadows, from a long Republican administration in town, and during that period “austerity” was the word of the hour. We needed to cut back…and back…and back…
And the police were on the cutting edge of that cutting back.
So, naturally, with fewer men and women on the beat…crime is slowly rising. Even in neighborhoods…like this one…where it was uncommon, now we see it regularly.
But, anyway, getting back to my story.
So, maybe, probably, “kids” were really responsible. Just teens. Not evil, just bored, and wild, and un-supervised. And with after school programs, and teen employment programs on the chopping block…with time on their hands.
But, it could have been otherwise, I suppose.
This morning, as I swept up the shards of broken glass with a push broom and ladled them into the trash with a shovel, I wondered if it could have been someone else. After all, the energy with which the window was broken, and the silence with which it was done, seems rather remarkable. Not kid-like, if you know what I mean.
So, I wondered, as I tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to vacuum the shards of glass out of the cab with my only half-way functional shop vac, if maybe it was someone who was really desperate for money, even $10. As in, someone on drugs.
That, too, was a possibility. Albuquerque does have a serious drug problem. We’re not quite the war-zone that Breaking Bad portrayed us as being, but …it is serious. We’re at a crossroads here. Drugs come up from Mexico then get transshipped from the city to California and the East. Which means that, sometimes, we’re a small city with big city problems.
It’s funny. The Trump administration makes such a big deal about “controlling our borders.” By which it means stopping the flow of brown skinned people coming from the South. But …
Drugs continue to flow, almost without restraint. While ICE arrests green card holding doctors with children who’ve been here for decades, the DEA battles desperately against a tidal wave of cocaine and heroin.
It sort of makes you wonder why…if the government is even marginally successful in its attempts to control the immigration of (usually) harmless people… it cannot do more to stop drugs, which are genuinely destructive.
And you sort of wonder if the answer is in the will to do so. There is political capital to be made in interdicting “illegals.” It looks good to Trump’s base, those white men and women for whom immigrants represent not only economic rivalry, but also the shifting of the demographic ground beneath their feet. For generations, whiteness might be only the power they could claim. Now, even that is slipping away.
But, illicit drugs…on the other hand. Well, not so many votes to be gained there. They’re seen as a black or a brown person’s problem. Which is to say, not particularly interesting.
And besides, think of all the billionaires whose fortunes are built on synthetic opioids. Would it be entirely a good thing for them if there were a renewed war on hard drugs? Yes, a few Mexican competitors would be removed, but at the cost of drawing attention to themselves.
No, not an attractive option. If we are going to re-ignite to war on drugs, then better the target be legal marijuana. Closing that down would trouble only a few college students…and the Right isn’t sure it likes college education these days.
And then there is simple poverty.
I doubt that was the motive for the smashing of my window. Things aren’t so bad here that $10 in quarters would really be worth stealing. That’s hardly even the price of a meal these days.
But will it always be so? Under the policies of the Trump government the middle class continues its slow crawl toward extinction. And the poor? They face genuine hunger. I’ve heard that one in four children in this country suffer from “food insecurity.” In spite of being one of the greatest food producing nations in the world, our children are going hungry.
And, with every tax cut for billionaires, with every social program eliminated, it is going to get worse.
My guess then is that while this particular little incident was not caused by real need, the day is coming and coming soon when that kind of desperation will be common. And when that day comes, theft…even of the smallest sums…will be endemic. And major crimes? They will hardly rate a headline.
All of which we will. And all this we owe to Trump, and the kleptocartic system of abuse and exploitation being so painstakingly constructed by his supporters.
But back to my story.
This morning, I finished cleaning up the drive way and the truck as best I could. I made an appointment at a glass shop. And now I wait.
I wait. But…also…we wait.
All of us wait. We wait to see the results of the Trump administration’s policies. We wait, and watch, while poverty grows, while children and infants know hunger, while a thousand addictive toxins flow into people’s veins, while police forces are defunded or militarized, transformed into an army of occupation, omnipresent, maybe capable of keeping a lid on it, but not of stopping crime…
And all this, I fear, is coming…
Well, I’ve finished my coffee. I will walk back to the glass shop. I will wait there. It shouldn’t be too much longer.
Ah…but there’s the rub. For my window, the wait for the repair will be short.
But, for all the rest, for the damage being done even now to our nation and our body politic… we cannot say…cannot even guess…how long it will take us to recover…from Trump…
That maker of shards. That vandal of souls. That thief. That lawless man. That criminal. That great, and certain, and irredeemable…