I glanced at the clock as I reached for my purse flopped on the passenger seat. It was 10:56 a.m. and I needed to hustle. I got out of my car and noticed the dark blue BMW X5 parked directly across from me. Not because I generally notice BMW X5s—expensive cars don't blow my hair back. I noticed it because I heard the fan running and thought to myself, Hmmm, that is an awfully loud fan. Then again, it's an awfully big car. SUV. Whatever. It's large and obnoxious and loud.
I headed into the La Jolla Ralphs to pick up a fruit tray for a work potluck I'd forgotten about in the giant wake of planning a 3-year-old's birthday party. Despite my rush, I lingered in the store; I shop at Windmill Farms, so I felt like a simple girl from Kansas whose black and white country house had just been plunked down in the middle of Technicolor Times Square. Who knew they sold hardback books in there? Quickly convinced that Ralphs had everything, I actually began looking for munchkins because, seriously: What better way to alleviate the inherent discomfort of an office party than with a performance by representatives of The Lollipop Guild? Way more palliative than kiwi or mango, if you ask me.
But after touching all the shiny things in Aisle 9, I focused on my original task, found what I'd come for and clicked my heels together until I was back at my car where the extra-loud fan was still humming.
I started the ignition, opened the sunroof and windows and then had the horrifying realization that, Hey! That's no fan! That bitch is running! I looked at the clock. It was 11:15. I squinted to see if somehow I'd overlooked a person inside. Maybe there was a baby strapped in somewhere? I couldn't believe it. I had to know for sure if the engine was on.
I got out of my car—shutting it off first—walked up to the vehicle and leaned my ear toward the hood. Yup. It was on, and so was the AC. I moved to the passenger side, saw keys dangling from the ignition and a Black Lab-ish doggie in the driver's seat. She lifted her head to look at me. I waved at her. And then went back to my car where I waited like a jealous girlfriend ready to set shit on fire.
I waited because I couldn't live the rest of my life unless I knew what this believer in Michael Crichton science looked like. I needed to see the enemy.
As the minutes crept by, and as my party offerings began to ferment in the sun, I thought about the reporter from Channel 8 News who'd approached me the day before while I was gassing up. He wanted reactions to The King's request that Congress lift the ban on off-shore drilling as a means of giving relief to working Americans, yada yada. He wondered whether I'd be willing to speak on camera. I stood contemplating his request, my little hybrid surrounded by three obscenely giant trucks. Nah, I told him. I don't think so. But good luck.
I didn't speak to him because I can't stand to be taken out of context, and that has been my experience with speaking on camera. But had I done so, I would have told him that I thought George W. Bush should just stop talking now. It's time. We've heard quite enough of his drill here and cut down that and they hate us for our freedom. I wanted to tell him that this false fix was on par with the blood money the government sent many of us this spring. I wanted to tell him that rising fuel prices, as much as they hurt, is exactly what needs to happen and that the real solution lies with Americans finally making the hard choices.
But we're still comfy at more than $4 a gallon, and the choice seems to be: Stay the course. I keep hearing people bitch about the cost of gas while I also keep seeing brand-new monster-sized cars on the road. I stumbled upon a blog recently whose author featured excited posts about her new minivan. This car joins her other family car, “a big Dodge 2500.” She needed this second vehicle because she's a mom (of one) and minivan = responsible.
Even more obtuse than her minivan pros (“The windows in the back roll down, like normal windows now! No more are they sealed shut, or puny little vents.”) and cons (“They're uuuuuugly on the outside. And, you look like a dork from the outside.”) were the comments from readers, every single one cheering her on, obliviously singing the praises of their giant MPVs with multiple television screens.
People: Get over yourselves and rein it in just a bit.
It's not so much irresponsible as it is reprehensible to drive economically and environmentally ridiculous vehicles while young Americans are fighting and dying and losing limbs and brain function and eyesight in a war that is in part—if not completely—about oil. Dare I say it's amoral to do so at a time when our climate is drastically changing as a result of what we carelessly pour into the air because gaaawd forbid should Toto have to sit in the car with the windows rolled down, and, well, fuck you, Mother Earth—and future generations, while we're at it. Which brings me back to the arrogant ball of earwax who left his car running while he went to Pilates or Jamba Juice or Trader Joe's or whatever for more than 30 minutes.
At 11:28, Mister I-have-an-excruciatingly-small-penis-let-me-wag-it-in-your-face came sauntering up to his idling wagon of overcompensation. He was on his cell phone. He was 40-ish, blonde, good-looking in a mocking sorta way. Wearing a black tee, blue gym shorts and a weathered blue ball cap that said “R-NY” in red letters, he instantly reminded me of the bully in high school who used to steal candy from the neighborhood kids.
I'd like to say I gave the man an informed and thorough tongue-lashing. But for once, I was speechless. I was stunned to silence as I watched him open the driver side door—the window of which was rolled down, by the way—get in, throw the car in reverse and drive off like it wuddn't no big thang.
Evidently, it's no cost to him, leaving the engine running. And he could give a rat's ass about what it costs the rest of us.