War, crime, violence, riots, hate...
It is all too easy to remember just where our society is at. And yet despite all this, occasionally some small and otherwise not terribly significant incident slams it all right into the pit of the stomach.
Wednesday, July 19, 9:15 A. M. We were having breakfast in Harvard Square, and in a drowsy way I was gazing vacantly out the window, not particularly interested in what was happening outside but as an alternative to gazing vacantly about inside. Mass Ave. moved in its usual 9:15 way, with no particular excess of expended energy. Just quietly humming. Which is why I almost missed it.
A policeman walked into my field of view, hesitated, and walked on. It was only when he had gone that I realized what had happened.
He was checking meters. The parking spot opposite me was occupied, by a car a yard from the curb, by a car with its rear end thrust at an angle into the traffic lane, by a car with its front end poking nosily several feet into the space in front of it. By a big new white Cadillac Eldorado.
A little red metal flag indicated that the meter was expired. After assuring himself that it was, the policeman took out pen and ticket book, faced his prey, and made ready to write. But confronted by the beast in front of him he hesitated. Doubt, anxiety, fear crept into his face. Thoroughly confused, he shrugged his shoulders in an effort at appearing casual about the invincibility he perceived in the object before him. Then he slunk away.
The word social justice flashed across my mind, and with a sudden-grown anger described what had just happened to the two people with me. They immediately sensed what I had felt, anger and frustration at the inequality which seeps into even the most trivial aspects of life. T--- jumped up from the table and dashed to the street. A moment later he returned wearing an I-knew-it grin, and announced that the car bore the license plate number 100-G. The policeman had never looked at it, since it was not visible in approaching the car from the direction he did. But its vibrations had overwhelmed him.
We all wanted to express our feelings, and were struggling with the introduction of a note to the owner when a man approached the car. He was short, rotund, and had a large cigar protruding from the middle of a coarse face, the perfect image of a Fat Cat. When he began to open the car door, T--- jumped up again and ran outside. He tried to explain to him the significance of what had happened in the last few minutes, but the little man stared back uncomprehendingly. Then with a blank expression he turned away and started his car.
"Here is your throat back, thanks for the loan."