Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spokesgoddess for Health of the Planet meets Scourge-of-the-Earth

I never imagined that a walk on the beach would require the same level of alertness and readiness for leaping out of the path of a car that you need as a pedestrian in a housing development with no sidewalks. But Lindi and I both felt like the cars had the right of way.

We decided to feel grateful that anyone at all was on foot. You'd think that anyplace it was allowed, most people would drive -- at least in this car-obsessed society. But you'll be happy to know that at least half the people were opting to walk.

After standing around staring at the whale for a bit, I became aware of an immense, even bigger than usual Hummer parked on the sand behind us. Of course I had to take some pictures of the quintessential conflict: beautiful beach v. ruthless destroyer of the planet. Then I noticed a man approaching, and asked him if that was his car. He said yes.

Like I told you, I’ve been wanting to have a little chat with a Hummer owner for a while now. So naturally I’ve been trying that on in my mind -- pretending I'm talking to one. And I keep noticing that all kinds of hostile sentiments well up inside me every time – just like they do when I spot one of these machines on the road. These monsters that have been condemned by every environmental group in existence, these behemoths that belch out three times the pollution of the average personal vehicle and take up a ridiculous amount of space – how can I contain my rudeness? "How dare you?" I think indignantly whenever I see one.

At the same time, I’ve realized that spewing my venom upon the owner of one of these beasts wasn't likely to influence them to switch to bike riding or run out and buy a battery-operated Gemcar. As a general rule, spewing venom on people rarely works to advance one’s point of view.

Even though I knew these things, I had not yet come up with an alternative approach when I chanced upon Hummer-Man on the beach that day. In my mental video of the scene, I had never gotten past pummeling the person with his own revolting image. Or with large stones, or exploding fireballs, depending on my mood (which is normally very zen-like). So when I started my conversation with him I didn’t feel prepared, and had to wing it the whole way.

For now, I’ve come to the end of my blogging allotment for the day so I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to report on how it went.


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