In the "Hackie" column of 12/26 entitled, "A Poetess Blossoms," I wrote about my friendship with a customer I called "Janet." I described her as an elderly resident of a Shelburne senior living community, and a sublime poet. All of that stuff about Janet is true. (As I've said elsewhere when asked if the "Hackie" stories are factual or invented: My imagination isn't that good.) But - the woman's name isn't really Janet.
While my stories are indeed non-fiction, I regularly alter biographical information concerning the taxi customers I portray. For instance, I almost always change the name and often home locations and the like. I do this because it is not my intention to invade the privacy of others, though - when I'm honest with myself - this is exactly what I've been doing from the onset with these stories. But, I figure, at least I can minimize this problem by disguising various non-essential elements of these encounters.
Of course, the people I write about frequently recognize themselves in the column. Thank God, with just one or two horrendous exceptions, they are generally quite pleased with how they've been portrayed. This is extremely important to me; even when describing, let's call them, "difficult" people, I make every effort to write with respect and compassion.
So I was quite happy this week to receive a sweet note from "Janet" which began: A discovery! "Janet" bears a remarkable resemblance . . . so - Thanks for the poetess story, a generous description . . ."
I'm certain that "Janet" won't mind in the least if I revealed her true name, along with the title of her book of poetry. Go out and buy it, and support the true poets of the world!
A Cartography of Peace
by Jean L. Connor