Published in the Rains County Leader on June 25, 2019:
As a writer, I have a tendency to live inside my own head, thinking about my next column, laying out the plot of a new book, or working on a tricky scene or bit of dialogue. It’s not that I’m disengaged from what’s going on around me. But even during the most interesting discussion, the most challenging chore, or the most entertaining activity, a part of my mind is always searching for an idea to be stored on my mental hard drive and retrieved later to see where it might fit into a work in progress.
This isn’t always true when we’re watching TV. While David is surfing YouTube, Amazon Prime, and other streaming sites for interesting videos on sailing, RVing, metal detecting, bloopers, and other topics that interest him, I’m usually, writing, cooking, reading, working crossword and Sudoku puzzles, or playing with my phone. Once in a while, though, something catches my attention, and that happened this week when he was watching a video on auto detailing.
I was in the kitchen after church on Sunday, and he was using the remote to choose our lunch-time entertainment. He settled on a video which showed the super-deluxe professional detailing of a 1996 Porsche 911.
“These are the same guys I watched last night,” he said. “They charge around $10,000 for this level of detailing.”
For a car wash? This I had to see. This particular car had an estimated value of around $250,000 because, even though it was over twenty years old, it had been driven less than 500 miles. The detailing crew consisted of four men plus a Porsche specialist who came in at some point to remove some parts of the engine which were particularly difficult to reach for cleaning. During the next seven days, these men put in over 130 man hours cleaning, polishing, and spit shining every part of the car including the undercarriage and inside the wheel wells. They used special cloths and sponges, electric buffers, brushes of all sizes, Q-tips, and even what looked like dental floss to get into every nook and cranny.
The process was fascinating in one way, but in another way, it was appalling, especially in light of an article David had forwarded to me earlier in the week. He knew I would be interested because of the subject matter of a couple of my recent books. The article was published in the American Herald Tribune on May 7 and was written by John W. Whitehead. The title was “The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children Has Become Big Business in America.” It was long and heart-wrenching, but I made myself finish it – we’ve closed our eyes to this growing atrocity for too long.
Here are some of the less graphic, yet still unbelievable statistics in the article. In the United States, children are purchased by adults for illicit purposes over 2.5 million times a year. It’s estimated that in Georgia alone, men seek out adolescent girls for the same illicit purposes roughly 300 times a day. A child is exploited every two minutes in what has been called the fastest growing business in organized crime. The average age of these girls, and sometimes boys, is thirteen, but some are nine-years-old or younger.
Whitehead included a fact that, when I learned it several years ago, caused me to pull my head out of the sand and pay attention to this horror. Child trafficking doesn’t just happen in other countries or in big cities – it happens in the suburbs, small cities, and towns where our children and grandchildren live and play and go to school.
So what can you do about it? I’m glad you asked. There are many organizations that fight trafficking from many angles. Their websites are good places to educate yourself about the extent and reality of this crime and how to teach your at-risk children to be on the alert. You can also find ways to volunteer and/or donate. If you shy away from the Internet, contact me and I can give you a list of several organizations.
Politics can be another way to help if that’s your thing. Find out if there are any initiatives on the table to get more funding to fighting trafficking. Write your governor, senator, congressman, county commissioner, anyone who might have some influence to either propose or support such an initiative. Research other attempts to fight trafficking and throw your support behind them.
I’m not a political animal. I prefer to try and reach the vulnerable before they become victims. I believe in working with kids one-on-one to make them feel worthy enough that they won’t fall for the schemes of traffickers and other predators. Church, school, and other programs that focus on children are always looking for adults who will give their time.
So how did I segue from expensive car washes to child trafficking? If the owner of that $250,000 Porsche, the one he drives approximately 20 miles a year, sold the car, he could support several of the many organizations that fight this crime – and he wouldn’t have to pay $10,000 for a car wash.