by Belle Waring on October 24, 2010

I congratulate journalist Megan McArdle for having the good fortune to encounter such a talkative fellow passenger on the D.C. bus the other day.

Yesterday, I rode the bus for the first time from the stop near my house, and ended up chatting with a lifelong neighborhood resident who has just moved to Arizona, and was back visiting family. We talked about the vagaries of the city bus system, and then after a pause, he said, “You know, you may have heard us talking about you people, how we don’t want you here. A lot of people are saying you all are taking the city from us. Way I feel is, you don’t own a city.” He paused and looked around the admittedly somewhat seedy street corner. “Besides, look what we did with it. We had it for forty years, and look what we did with it!”

He’s a little off, because I think black control of Washington D.C. officially occurred only in 1975 when Parliament’s “Chocolate City” was released.



Doctor Memory 10.24.10 at 3:29 am

Surely this man moonlights as a taxi driver in whatever city Thomas Friedman most recently visited.


dr. bloor 10.24.10 at 3:44 am

What are the odds that Megan would have run into one of Tom Friedman’s cab drivers on a DC bus?


digamma 10.24.10 at 4:11 am


Doctor Memory 10.24.10 at 5:35 am

No, Dr. Bloor is not my alter ego: we’re just both victims of a weakness for the obvious joke combined with CT’s slow moderation queue.


Belle Waring 10.24.10 at 5:39 am

Obviously he’s a cabbie in Arizona. And he also really does too have a girfriend, you’ve just never met her because she lives in Canada.


Doctor Memory 10.24.10 at 6:00 am

And for the record and all, this post could easily be Exhibit A for why some people, myself occasionally included, get a little twitchy when the subject of McArdle gets brought up. She really is every bit as irredeemably loathsome as Steve Sailor or Pamela Geller, but for reasons that are an endlessly debatable Venn diagram of “went to Penn and Chicago”, “goes to the Right Parties”, and “has really rich friends”, she gets a pass from a hell of a lot of people (ahem, Mr. Yglesias, ahem and ahem again, Mr. Ackerman) who should damn well know better.

(But it’s really more like Exhibit ZZZZZZZB: this has been amply documented, for years elsewhere, and yet her trajectory of falling upward continues unabated.)


chrismealy 10.24.10 at 6:08 am

Sure, it’s funny now, but you won’t be laughing when it’s Senator McArdle getting the Coase theorem wrong or not knowing how to use a calculator or whatever.


riffle 10.24.10 at 6:59 am

That’s funny, I ran into a self-confessed Libertarian on the bus the other day. She offered up unprompted that the economic and political policies they offered up would lead to economic ruin and an oligarchy that Putin would envy. She said “either we’re gun nuts, or pot-heads, or we’re willingly doing the bidding of the super-rich for a paycheck. We’re really a detestable lot. Look what those idiots have done for a few dollars from the Koch brothers.”

I found that refreshing.


tomslee 10.24.10 at 1:15 pm

I’d discount it too, but the last time I was in San Francisco I ran into a prominent socialist-feminist activist from Kyrgyzstan on the subway and had one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had in a long time. It does happen!


Witt 10.24.10 at 7:35 pm

What’s remarkable to me in instances like this is that the columnist is so much more invested in making his/her point than in having it be believed. It’s like a one-two punch of cluelessness and dismissiveness. They either don’t understand how many people are going to find their little anecdote implausible,* or they don’t view those people as their audience and therefore don’t care.

*I’ve had enough train conversations that resulted in remarkably cogent analyses that I do actually believe that really implausible phrases can come out of people’s mouths. But I don’t generally use those stories when trying to persuade strangers of a political point.


Marc 10.24.10 at 9:04 pm

It’s surprisingly rare to have random strangers in public transit confirm the stereotypes that a writer has about them. I was waiting for McMegans “source” to claim that at least his people had natural rhythm…


Tomas 10.24.10 at 10:12 pm

This man that travels the land and provides sockpuppeting services to columnists is payed by McAdler and Friedman I hope. What would happen if he decided to withhold his productivity? The value of their respective publications would plummet.


Bauhaus Bob 10.24.10 at 10:37 pm

I’ve had enough train conversations that resulted in remarkably cogent analyses that I do actually believe that really implausible phrases can come out of people’s mouths. But I don’t generally use those stories when trying to persuade strangers of a political point.

I’ve had those conversations, too. I’ve actually met someone who is now a good friend when I lived in San Francisco and her many packages kept falling on me when I was in a terrible mood. We’ve kept in touch, and despite the fact that we’ve rather incompatible political views and are political creatures, we’ve enough in common elsewhere to keep up a nice, somewhat more than occasional email and phone conversation over 11 years of not living in the same city. And I’ve had some genuinely remarkable frank conversations with others on the subway or the bus or with a cabbie.

The thing is, those conversations just never happen right before I need to dash off a piece justifying my choices and political preferences to the world.

I must have rubbed the wrong buddha belly.


blah 10.24.10 at 10:43 pm

About three years ago, I was in DC for a job interview. I took a cab to the interview and the driver, who was a black man around fifty years of age, picked up two other passengers, both black women in their thirties. (This must be a DC phenomenon – I have never ridden in a taxi with complete strangers before).

The driver dropped off the two women first, and had some sort of dispute with the second woman. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I think she claimed that he was supposed to have dropped her off first. She refused to pay the fare. After he finished yelling at the woman, he drove his taxi away. Out of nowhere, he said to me something to the effect: “I hate driving niggers. I would much rather drive white people around. They don’t give me any problems.” I was too surprised to say anything, and I really just wanted to get to my interview without any hassles. But I suppose he may have said that for my benefit, thinking that I might be sympathetic to that sort of view.


Daragh McDowell 10.24.10 at 11:37 pm

I guess the only negroes McMegan ever encounters are the Magical ones. Except at least the Magical Negro accomplished something on his/her own to help the hero/ine – all McMegan can come up with is someone who echoes her pablum.


Knecht Ruprecht 10.25.10 at 6:09 pm

In fairness, sometimes taxi cab conversations reveal important truths. Thanks to a D.C. taxi driver and the editorial courage of Marty Peretz at the New Republic, we now know that American-born blacks are shiftless goodfornuthins.

McCardle merely follows in their tradition of fearless truth-telling.


Western Dave 10.25.10 at 7:12 pm

Wait, when was DC ever a nice place to live? I mean, outside of that brief moment immediately after the New Deal when it was all shiny and new for 10 minutes.

Comments on this entry are closed.