I called for a taxi, looking to get to an airport. The driver was a youngish Hispanic guy. He turned down the radio volume as I entered, but I have a long relationship with talk radio- even the crazier flavors- and I recognized the gravelly voice immediately.

“Was that Alex Jones?”

“Yeah- you know Alex Jones?”

Sort of a trick question. I definitely was not part of the tribe but yeah, I knew of Alex Jones. Although I didn’t want to give a false signal of affiliation, I also didn’t want to alienate my driver for no reason. I decided just to say that I was familiar with him.

I hadn’t spoken in-person with a true believer in plainclothes. I have met them in the places you might expect to find them (protesting things, for instance), but this was not one of those places.

He was a reasonable-seeming guy who admitted to having a rough previous life, who reformed himself and found solace in religion. As we drove to the airport, he related to me the rising trend of alter egos on Billboard charts: Beyonce and Sasha Fierce, Nikki Minaj and her various alter egos. He believed this trend was conceptually related to the concept of demonic possession, and that the powers that be were trying to normalize the idea of possession to the public.

We passed a truck with the Eye of Providence on its back and he pointed it out to me. No further comment was made on the significance of the symbol. I certainly wouldn’t have seen it if he didn’t point it out, but I didn’t have a reason to because it didn’t mean anything to me.

It gave me a new appreciation for conspiratorial thought. Sometimes I forget that it’s not just about believing crazy ideas as an abstraction. It’s also about actively experiencing the crazy, day to day. It’s about seeing and feeling the world around you and, as a result of the lenses of your belief, seeing crazy patterns. And its hard to argue with the mounting evidence of your own colored experiences. Fish-in-water metaphor.

This driver wasn’t an angry or confused-seeming guy. He had ambitions and day-to-day things he needed to do. But these ideas were in his head, and they colored everything. Just sitting back there listening to him and not contesting his arguments, not entertaining the objecting thoughts that automatically interrupted my attention between his assertions, I understood something about it all a little clearer than I did before.