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Philosophy and Cabbage



Philosophy and Cabbage


by Eric Ferguson

Copyright © 1995 by Eric Ferguson.
All rights reserved.
5732 Bossen Terrace #2
Minneapolis, MN 55417
voice/fax: (612)726-6364
<fergie@pioneerplanet.infi.net>


(There are four chairs, arranged as the seats of a cab. Driver is sitting in front. Passenger enters.)


DRIVER

Passenger! (Passenger climbs into the cab. Driver sings.) Hello, hello, and welcome to this yellow cab, hello, hello, yellow, hello. All out drivers belong to the union, so you won't be driven by a scab, hello and welcome to this yellow cab! (speaking) Hello and thank you for riding yellow cabs. Here is your free complimentary yellow cabbage. (Driver tosses a yellow cabbage to Passenger. Passenger starts to get out of the cab. Driver pulls him back in.) Off we go! And where would you like to go?


PASSENGER

Uh, 2424 Takawaka St.


DRIVER

2424 Takawaka St.!


PASSENGER

You don't have to say it so loud.


DRIVER

Getting cooler isn't it?


PASSENGER

What?


DRIVER

The weather. Getting cooler isn't it?


PASSENGER

Yes it often does that after it's been warmer.


DRIVER

That is true.


PASSENGER

A midwestern cab driver.


DRIVER

(Turning to face Passenger) I notice it's always a case of warmer then colder, warmer then colder. Is it proof of an ordered universe in which everything must follow the rules set down for it, or is it some kind of cosmic grammatical accident?


PASSENGER

Hey, watch the road.


DRIVER

Why, it isn't going anywhere.


PASSENGER

But we are!


DRIVER

Einstein would say that's a relative question. (turns back to the front ) Speaking of relatives, I have an aunt who was saying something about that just the other day.


PASSENGER

She does that often, does she?


DRIVER

She was saying that since everything is governed by physical laws there must be an order behind everything, and therefore there must be something providing the order.


PASSENGER

Does she always talk like that?


DRIVER

Of course not, she'd be a pretty weird aunt if she did.


PASSENGER

The whole thing sounds a bit odd anyway.


DRIVER

Atheist.


PASSENGER

Now don't knock atheists. After all, someone's got to wonder about whether they actually believe in anything or not. In that way they serve a very useful function.


DRIVER

Almost as useful as the people who make TV commercials.


PASSENGER

Now don't knock advertising. There are a lot of good atheists employed there.


DRIVER

I don't doubt it. What do you work in?


PASSENGER

Advertising.


DRIVER

Thought so.


PASSENGER

I make a lot of the political ads.


DRIVER

Oh, like the one where this upper-middle class lady who looks so sincere says that inflation is down but it's still too high so we better stay the course and keep unemployment high, the deficit high, defense spending ridiculous, and cut taxes while the poor go hungry?


PASSENGER

They can have my yellow cabbage.


DRIVER

They can't eat that, it's got paint on it.


PASSENGER

Anyway, I'm glad you've seen the commercial.


DRIVER

I can't believe I'm talking to the man who made that commercial.


PASSENGER

Yes, well, seeing is believing.


DRIVER

Not in this case.


PASSENGER

What? I'm sorry, that got by me.


DRIVER

That happens often, does it?


PASSENGER

Does what happen often?


DRIVER

Something gets by you.


PASSENGER

I really hadn't noticed.


DRIVER

My aunt gave me a piece of sound advice once. (Turning to Passenger and letting go of the wheel.) For the life of me I can't remember what it was.


PASSENGER

What are you doing?


DRIVER

She gave it to me right before I took my driving test.


PASSENGER

The steering wheel!


DRIVER

That's right! And what's this? (Holding up his hat.)


PASSENGER

It's moving!


DRIVER

No sir, the steering wheel is firmly attached to the steering column.


PASSENGER

We're going to hit something!


DRIVER

Now what was that advice?


PASSENGER

Hold on to that wheel!


DRIVER

That was it. (turning back) What do you think of the aid Bush was giving to Iraq?


PASSENGER

It was about as safe as your driving.


DRIVER

We're still on the road, haven't crashed yet. Therefore my driving must be safe. Ergo our handling of Saddam must be safe. There, see, if you didn't crash you must have done it right.


PASSENGER

We had a war.


DRIVER

That is true, well, how about China?


PASSENGER

Now that's different. I know it could look bad to see the Chinese government massacre some 300 peaceful demonstrators and not say anything stronger than "Gee, I wish you hadn't done that". And I suppose sending senior officials for secret chats right after could look bad too, and maybe it could be poorly received when Bush vetoes any sanctions against China. However, China is willing to serve as a source of cheap labor and a friendly bastion of capitalism, for which it is to be commended.


DRIVER

And has been by every one of the president's wealthy friends who are making money under the Chinese government's protection.


PASSENGER

Quite true.


DRIVER

And capitalism is the natural order of things.


PASSENGER

I thought it was warmer then colder. (They agree it was a bad joke.)


DRIVER

At least with the Cold War over we can start cutting the defense budget.


PASSENGER

You can't cut the defense budget. You would alienate the pro-defense people.


DRIVER

But it has to be done. That's just how it is sometimes.


PASSENGER

Not in an election year.


DRIVER

I don't get it.


PASSENGER

Here's how the whole thing works. In an election year the voters are paying attention during the last few months before the election. Therefore if the electorate wants something it gets it and if it doesn't want something it doesn't get it.


DRIVER

What about good public policy?


PASSENGER

We're not worried about that yet. So in the first year of a term, the winner tries to live up to the promises it meant, while the loser tries to hold the whole thing up so it can say the winner didn't keep its promises. In the second year the midterm elections are coming up so it's a repeat of the election year. In the third year everyone is jockeying for position in the election year.


DRIVER

So when does the hardcore work get done?


PASSENGER

From 1:15 to 2:35 on the fourth day of the second month of the first year.


DRIVER

So the key to all this is that politicians are afraid of the electorate.


PASSENGER

That's only reasonable since voters vote according to their financial situation during the last months of the campaign.


DRIVER

Everyone is afraid of opinion. Imagine if that were not the case.


PASSENGER

I really don't have time.


DRIVER

(Driver wanders away from the cab. Passenger covers his eyes, grabs at the steering wheel, yells "get back here" etc.) Suppose people could rid themselves of the tyranny of "they". Or, for that matter, of "people" . For aren't they the same, they and people? And don't people watch the way they hold their hand, and avoid crossing their eyes, and make sure their clothes are neat and every hair is in place, in order to avoid offending "people"? And of course "people" have nothing else to concern themselves with than how that passing person wears his hair, or his clothes, or his facial expression. Let us not forget that the importance of the opinion of "they" cannot be underestimated.


PASSENGER

Quit philosophizing and get back in this cab!


DRIVER

Oh, yes. Sorry. (Driver gets back in.)


PASSENGER

Didn't you see what you were doing? My God.


DRIVER

No, my God. You haven't got one remember.


PASSENGER

I think you've lost your head.


DRIVER

I must have left it outside the cab while I was philosophizing. I'll go look for it. (Driver gets out of cab.)


PASSENGER

(Getting out of cab.) Why do you take me so literally? I don't mean much of anything I say. We're about to hit a guardrail!


DRIVER

There's a streetlight!


PASSENGER

A pedestrian!


BOTH

(simultaneously) Get out of the way! Get out of the way! (Doing a pattycake) Get out of the way! Get out of the way!


PASSENGER

Look, there's a humpback whale on the road! A humpback whale?


DRIVER

Tough migration route.


PASSENGER

Oh no, that truck!


DRIVER

It's coming straight for us! (They scramble for the cab. The hat is transferred to Passenger who ends up in the driver's seat. Driver is in back.)


PASSENGER

Missed it. Speaking of humpback whales, I've seen pictures of whales deliberately beaching themselves. Why do they do that?


DRIVER

Well, it's said that one of the sick ones or stupid ones deliberately beaches itself and the others just follow along. Sort of like the electorate.


PASSENGER

Here we are, 2424 Takawaka St.


DRIVER

You don't have to say it so loud. (gets out) How much do I owe you?


PASSENGER

That will be $500,000.


DRIVER

$500,000! That's a lot of cabbage.


PASSENGER

Sorry, I used to be a defense contractor. $10.


DRIVER

$10 even.


PASSENGER

No tip. Capitalist twit.


DRIVER

Lower class scum.

 

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