View from the fray

Fear of snipers, talk of war

The radio was on in the 7-Eleven, and a newscaster pronounced the earth-shattering news that ABC anchor Ted Koppel had said he wasn’t afraid of snipers.

“Then get your ass out there on the street, Ted Koppel,” a clerk said.

I laughed out loud along with two other clerks, one of whom has family in Virginia. She worries about them.

“It does affect me that way,” she said.

Terror takes many forms.

Besides 7-Eleven, my weekly research rounds took me to the check-out line at Albertson’s, where I read this troubling headline on the cover of the Weekly World News: “Iraqi Sub Prowling Lake Michigan!” I scored the last copy in sight and had to protect it from the curious girls in line behind me.

“Did you read the one where the janitor got that mummy pregnant?” one girl asked me.

“Yeah, I saw that.”

“Probably just some janitor who works there,” she theorized.

Sandwiched in between stories of a half-man, half-fish terrorizing tourists in Florida and Bat Boy sightings, the WWN describes al Qaeda’s latest plans in “Next Terrorist Target: You!”

Here are a few ways that a terrorist might attack you, according to “chilling new training videos” obtained by U.S. intelligence:

“Knock on your door. When you answer, they shoot you.”

“Approach you on a crowded street and ask you for directions. When you turn your back, they stab you with an ice pick.”

“As you nap outside curled up on your lawn chair, they pour molten wax over your face.”

“Disguise themselves as pizza deliverymen and serve you poison pizza.”

My natural skepticism leads me to doubt a few of these. For one thing, the logistics of keeping wax “molten” while wandering around looking for snoozing neighbors would be a nightmare. And poison pizza? Think of the killer Domino’s lawsuit you’d have on your hands.

Like Koppel, I ain’t afraid of no snipers.

I had a recent chat with Jim Malone, 60, a recovering alcoholic who drives a Reno cab and delivers the RN&R. Malone believes in the simple wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.

“It goes something like, ‘Do the things you can do something about and don’t worry about the things you can’t and hopefully you’ll know the difference,’ “ he says. “I’m not saying it right. It’s better than that, but that’s my philosophy. If I can’t do anything about it, I’m not going to worry about it.”

It’s good advice to think of when you’re thinking about snipers, the war on terrorism, bombing the bejeepers out of Iraq and other Bush administration weirdness.

“I can’t do anything about it,” Malone says. “I don’t have enough juice. Maybe if I was a multi-millionaire and active in the business of politics, then probably I could.”

Oddly enough, Malone does consider himself an activist on a local level. He stopped by my office about a week ago to drop off a column outlining how Reno can attract tourists.

We’ll be running this in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, watch your back.