what do you do…
When you live seven miles from the latest sniper attack? And your Metro stop is at another busy shopping center?

My boss gave me cab fare to get home from work tonight. And I felt a little wimpy taking it. But I figured I might as well save myself the worrying. After I caught a cab, the driver and I got on the subject of the sniper attacks. “What I can’t understand,” he said, “is how there was all those people around, and nobody stopped him! They all ran for cover!”

He was from Nigeria, he said, and in his country no one would stand for some idiot going around shooting people. If they witnessed a shooting, they’d run after the shooter. He, for one, would’ve taken his car and rammed it into the van to stop him. “I’m only going to die one time,” he said in his elegant Nigerian accent. “I’m not going to die like a rat.”

Of course, he’s an old pro at playing the vigilante. In D.C., two men with guns once stole his car. He chased them down an alley, then threw a brick through one of the windows. They rammed into a lampost, and a police car was ready to arrest them. Another time, someone got into the cab with a gun and asked for all his money. The cab driver said, “If you’re going to kill me, I’m going to take you with me.” He slammed his foot on the gas, going straight for a brick wall. The would-be mugger jumped out.

What we need, said the cab driver, is a witness to go after this sniper instead of running away. “If I was there, I would try to stop him any way that I could,” he said.

What do you do when you live in the Washington, D.C. area these days? When every nightly newscast sounds like a made-for-t.v. movie? When your boss jokes, “Hopefully I’ll make it back, guys!” before he goes to get gas? When you lie awake listening to a helicopter circle the area? You vow not to let some psycho’s mind games affect your routine. But still, every time you see a white van or box truck, your stomach flutters for a beat. And sometimes, you take a cab home from work.

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