Monday, January 31, 2005

A Puffer

from the Double-Tongued Word Wrester:

n. an automobile left unattended and running in cold weather. This term
appears to be specific to Colorado. Categories: Automotive. Colorado.
English. Police.

--Colorado adds to our cultural vocabulary. Car-jacking gangs have taken to roaming neighborhoods in Denver in search of puffers, which they immediately steal. They proceed to commit felonies with the stolen cars or simply take them for a spin before a quick stripping. Though warming-up engines does not necessarily improve a car's performance, it does thaw the ice. In my neighborhood, the majority of residents are Mexican immigrants--families longtime locals tend to refer to as Mexicanos. This can be a good thing, or it can be a slur. Seems to depend on whether a person desires to be called Hispanic; but that's another story. Many are forced to live in relative secrecy because of oppressive US immigration policies and a thick, racist environment. (Wayne Allard, Tom Tancredo, and Marilyn Musgrave call Colorado home. The first two want to militarize the southern border of the US and the latter, in addition, believes homosexuality leads to bestiality and pedophilia.) Anyway, many of my neighbors have no garages and drive old clunker chryslers and pontiacs. Their cars freeze at night; they need a good thaw. Unfortunately, they leave puffers waiting to be stolen. Once such puffer, a late-sixties model Ford pickup, ended up against a tree in our front yard last year after a thief popped the clutch and shot the car, in reverse, up the street.

It's sad. Each car is needed by the adults in each household to support the families living therein. But they know their puffers will eventually be stolen. They do not call the police. So, for this story to have made it nation-wide, for the langauge folks to reference Colorado must mean that many more dozens of cars are stolen than are reported.

Might explain Denver's other auto problem. By my count, almost 3 out of every 5 cars in West Denver alone, have no tags. The trouble with doing anything about the thefts, the fake or missing tags, and the fake licenses (recently a DMV ring busted; selling driver's licenses for 1,000 bucks a pop; tell me the state didn't know) is that folks have to work. These people have to be there on time, at multiple jobs, across a sprawling urban and suburban city, or they are simply tossed. One form of crime points to another. One form of theft exposes many forms of oppression.

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