The Poor Player

First Posted 24-Aug-2015

The origin of this is my buddy’s “Poor Player’s Hour” in his blog. He left out a few things and that’s what prompted this post.  First, the rant by the dystopian nutcase happened while I was driving for Dianne Wallace’s, “Taxi Taxi”. I’d parked myself at Center & Shattuck because it was 3:30am, the bars were closed, most of the drunks already home beginning their Sunday recovery from the last two days, and the BART station there was about as safe a place to take a nap as you could find in the 1980’s when bad guys considered cab drivers to be prey.
I’d been dozing on & off, listening to Ray Taliafero. Ray was again calling for Reagan’s head after he’d done yet another unpardonable thing. A hapless Reagan fanboy was the ox being gored so that Ray could excoriate Reagan. There never seemed to be a lack of willing callers lining up for rhetorical slaughter. I was brought fully awake by a rather sad Corolla wagon shrieking in pain first because the driver had mashed the throttle then in turn mashed the brakes then yanked the wheel to come to a smoky halt in front of the cab stand. The driver spilled out of the car and stumbled up to my window, leaving the aching, smoking Corolla running. Not a good way to start a fare. He was yelling something about the CIA following him so they could kill him and he needed my cab..
Right. I need a hole in my head. This isn’t Hollywood. This is Berkeley, CA in the 1980’s. Car-jacking a cab driver is likely to get you beaten and jailed because the cabbie will claim you tried to rob him. But . . . money is money so I talked the guy down enough that he paid me $100.00 to drive him away from the BART station and lose his tail. We headed west over the Bay Bridge to Happy Donuts and after reloading on caffeine & sugar, decided he’d been tailed there so headed south with the second Benjamin in my hand. I let him run on about conspiracies popu-lated by Asian Dragon Ladies, a weaponized chlamydia, overnight flyovers by black helicopters, and Pacifica Radio. I thought he was just another cocaine psychotic. Little did I know.
I dropped him at the Capri Motel and headed back to my nap at Berkeley BART. I was off in an hour but still, I needed some decompression time. When I got to Center & Shattuck I couldn’t park. Both directions of Shattuck Ave between Center & Allston were blocked by the cops. The poor Corolla was the focus of guys in tyvek HASMAT suits. In the hours since my tour of the Bay Area courtesy of Mr. Crackhead they’d cleared all the cars parked overnight and Berkeley BART was awash with first responders and HASMAT gear. Oh well. Guess I’m not napping there. I headed back to West Oakland’s 7th street and the cab yard. Sleep would have to wait.
Fast forward to the future, to 2029 and my 70th birthday. I get a letter by snail-mail typed on a manual typewriter from a name I don’t recognize. It’s postmarked Brisbane, Australia. It’s that guy from the ‘80’s who spent $500.00 with me trying to escape a tail. He wasn’t high. He was a microbiologist who had worked in a black lab near Atlanta, GA. He was one of the scien-tists who had helped develop a weaponized chlamydia which had the symptoms of pneumonia, tended to kill those with compromised immune systems, and rendered healthy women infertile. That explains a lot.
Now, in 2029, world population has been declining on an exponential curve. Very few wom-en are fertile. Those that are have become pissed at the shouting for more babies. Any hint of flirting is likely to get you a punch in the face. Things have collapsed without people to run the huge, complex technological empire we call the first world. We are a third world society on a good day.
There are hippie-wanna-be’s that have been trying to tell the infertile women that their in-ability to get pregnant is a good thing. People can screw whomever whenever without worry, right? How do the women feel about this? Pretty much the way they have felt since forever. They want commitment, a ring and a date. Even if children are impossible.
A lot of the more insanely horny guys stupidly put all that nervous tension into silly fights over childish things like wearing the wrong color shoes and joined the Darwin Award club. We are better off for it. One guy made the news after he pushed his friend over the rail of the Syd-ney Harbor Bridge and his friend grabbed him on the way over and they both died. Others on the bridge said they heard them bickering about whether yellow was a color worn by the Brazil-ian football team.
Though, it’s not bad everywhere. Away from the old cities and for those that own land, life is steady. Our schedule is driven by the needs of farming. No one really starves or has to sleep outside. We do for each other. We haven’t had world-spanning Internet or copper wire phone service for a score of years. There is limited packet-switched ham radio and spotty cell-phone service. The only cars that run reliably are based on designs from the 20th century, run on grain alcohol and don’t have any electronics. We don’t miss it. Some farms have electricity from photovoltaics. Some don’t. The dystopian world we live in turns out to be more pleasant than we feared as we came to know that there was nothing that could be done to turn this tide of collapsing population. That’s what James Rustler didn’t tell you in his “Poor Player” post. That’s what I wanted you to know. It comes out ok.