In the Rust Belt

Your Intrepid Traveler in the Michigan Rust Belt.  July 2008


Here I am, in a cab, going from Detroit’s Metro airport to Utica, Michigan.  The cab driver is a foreigner.  Based on his accent, the cut of his clothing, the spelling of his last name and other subtle clues, I have used my world traveling experience and my powers of deduction to conclude that this chap is originally from India. Also, he told me he was.  


The driver is wearing a turban. I have always wondered if those things had any functional value or are they just for looks?, Just like parsley.  He is using a Garmin GPS that is speaking English.  That is a good sign, but you’d think it would have an Indian accent.   I expected to hear it say “turn right in one mile.  Why would I lie to you?” This cab driver must not buy his own gas because he has no clue about conserving fuel.  He does not understand the concept of slow acceleration or deceleration.  It is either full throttle or full brake.  It is amazing that I can continue to type on my laptop while the cab is turning on two wheels as we change lanes.


His name tag says he is Rastaffahdullah Shiknoterluciferous.  I can’t tell if that is a name, a location, a religion or a no smoking sign.  This driver is definitely from India.  Or got his driver training there The traffic is fairly heavy and he is multi-tasking by using his cell phone, the two-way radio, and punching the hotel address into the Garmin, all while nimbly dodging trucks and other cars.  Oh, and he is also snacking.  Wait a minute.  I might have been too hasty in guessing this driver’s origin.  He just used his turn signal.  That driving technique is unheard of in India.


The road signs all mention locations which sound familiar, even though I have never been up here for business before.  I see signs for “Lansing”, “Dearborn”, the Ford Museum and other locations that I have heard of before.  But here’s a shock:  there is apparently an entirely different country up here, very close by.  They call it Canadia.  It is full of Canadianns.  They are very grumpy, I hear.  They have a ritual of throwing out perfectly good coffee to signal the end of the work day.  I would be grumpy too if I lived in a country where the national dress code specified wearing a plaid cap with wooly earflaps.


I have been keeping my eye peeled for the Harold Ploegstra Museum, but have not spotted it yet.  Harold is my father-in-law and he grew up in the state.  Perhaps they do not advertise the museum in order to keep the crowds manageable.  This is the state that Harold made famous with his description of the weather:   10 months of winter and 2 months of poor sledding.  But today is lovely.  75 degrees and sunny.  And no visible air pollution.  I guess that is the upside to zero economic activity here in the Rust Belt.  This must be Al Gore’s dream city.  One giant carbon offset for the rest of the nation.


I am here to add some economic activity of my own.  I am hoping to sell my equipment to the evil oil companies that have pipelines in Michigan and Canadia.  There is that other country’s name again.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to exploit the masses that depend on petroleum and other toxins.  I sell the equipment that controls the flow of that stuff to them.  I can cut off the supply of oil or gas in a moments notice if I get word from the fat cats on Wall Street that there is an ounce too much product available in the marketplace.


“We” (me and my fellow industry kingpins) have been amazed that the public hasn’t changed their driving habits even with the price of gasoline reaching $4.00 a gallon.  Geez.  Had we known this, we would have jacked the price up years ago.  Some of us Big Oil men have even colluded on wind energy.  We are quietly buying up all the rights to wind farm acreage, with the plan to press congress for tax credits to develop an energy source that is completely uneconomical.  Just like we did with corn ethanol.  Life is good when congress is in session.


I need to wrap up this report so I can continue develop my plans to exploit the poor and gullible. And I need to tell Rastaffahdullah Shiknoterluciferous what exit to take.  I don’t trust his GPS. Now that I have had a closer look at it, it turns out to be a video game. This guy really can mulit-task.








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