“Does the gun bother you? Really?”
Asks my incredulous UBER driver about the 357 magnum she has in the driver’s console. I stare at the hard gray plastic, envisioning the gun resting inside.
Safety on? Maybe. Loaded? Definitely.
I look back up at her, age indeterminate but based on the amount of gray in her hair and the desert sand cracks in her face I’m guessing she’s a hard living fifty-five.
“That depends,” I say. “How often do you practice?”
“Yeah, at the gun range. How often do you practice?”
“Well I’ll tell you the last few times I went I shot, you know, not right at the head per say but the guy there told me he’d be dead for sure. Ah, not that, I mean, I’m a good Christian woman I wouldn’t want to kill anyone.”
“So, you’ve been at the range in the last month?”
“The last two or three months?”
“If I want to hit the target I will,” she says with that steely defiance of a woman with her guard up. She won’t meet my eyes in the rearview mirror anymore.
Based on the rainbow band on her sun visor holding in the tickets to an old Lady Ga Ga concert ticket, and based on the length of her hair, shorter than my father who is bald, I’m assuming she’s gay. She confirms it later when she talks about her partner, Doris. Being gay in Texas, that earns some respect. It takes guts to be gay in Texas.
I soften my approach.
“Here’s my only problem,” I say, and I launch into my ‘I-grew-up-with-guns’ speech that always puts gun carriers at ease and lets them know I’m not judging.
“My only problem is that people carry around these loaded guns and never practice. And never practice the way police practice in the academy, simulating real-world situations where your adrenaline is going at least a little. If you’re going to carry a gun, you should be at the range at least once a month. And certainly not…never.”
She nods. She sees my point. We move to safer ground, the pros and cons of UBER verses Lyft.
So, to her question, did I feel unsafe? No, not really. If she really needed that gun she probably wouldn’t have time to open the console to get it, and even if she did, she’s more likely to shoot herself in the foot than anyone around her. Not that she didn’t seem capable, but if you aren’t practicing it, and you never know what it’s like to have to fire when your nervous system is in panic mode, odds are you’re going to be wildly ineffective.
The problem isn’t nice old gay ladies with magnum 357’s who drive strangers around town for a living. The problem is the culture that tries to sell her safety lies in the barrel of a gun. It doesn’t. Period.
In any case we spent the rest of the time having a lively and hilarious discussion about a question brought up by a book I just read ‘What do we need men for?’ by E. Jean Carroll. After all, I’ve always found what links us together far more fun then what divides us, eh? That isn’t just the Canadian in me, that’s the human in me. I gave her a good tip and jumped out at my destination, a steakhouse in Hughes Landing. What a semi-vegetarian is doing at an expensive Texas steakhouse is for another time okay? No one has time to read more than four hundred words at a time.