30 June 2011

Changing the world.

I really like my 2004 Honda Accord sedan. I do. I like the leather seats, the sunroof, the kickass air conditioning, the barleycorn interior colour and the way it classily matches the rich phthalo green exterior.

I'm cruising around the city, running errands for a barbecue party that I'm planning for the weekend. It's warm, so that air conditioning is blasting away. ...Oh, wait: I need gas.

I pull into the nearby Shell station where I pump my $1.27 per litre into the tank. I tug my debit card from my wallet, insert it into the so-modern kiosk, ignore the brightly coloured advertising pleas encouraging me to buy some chips and candy as well, and enjoy the breeze after I punch the keypad so Shell can take my twenty dollars.

And then the little grey screen flashes just before posting a message before me.

help us change the world

My first reponse is to smile. Change the world? Sure! I'm all about that. Aren't I? Changing the world, yeah, that's a great thing. Damned right.

And then, just after I gun that fine 240-horsepower engine again, I start thinking. Help Shell change the world. Yes, I just did that, didn't I? After all, I just gave them my money in return for their gasoline product. For my car that I love.

I helped Shell change the world by selling unregistered pesticides that violated EPA standards. I helped Shell change the world by bribing Nigerian customs officials. I helped Shell change the world by stripping the Alberta tar sands. I helped Shell change the world by participating in our addiction to fossil fuels, raising global warming to such a threatening stage that polar bears, coral reefs, and Gods know how many other species are rapidly facing increased risk of extinction.

But man, I sure do love my 2004 Honda Accord. Did I mention its neato shade of green? Damned right.

I drive it down to the market next. I'm hosting this barbecue party this weekend, you know. It's Canada Day weekend. Yeah. So many Torontonians will be driving the cars that they love too, driving to cottage country where they'll be hosting barbecue parties also. All those cars driving to scenic, rustic cottage country because all those driving Torontonians want to spend time in those great outdoors. Yeah.

You know, those great, pristine Ontario outdoors that used to be teeming with black bears and wolves and mountain lions. But, hey, they're gone now because the little fuckers get into our trash, don't they? Like those goddamned raccoons back home in the city. Might as well beat 'em with a gardening spade, huh? Yeah, that's what that guy in Cabbagetown did. Damned right.

In Ontario, the stag moose and the saiga antelope are extinct. The Eastern elk is too. The Labrador duck. The Lake Ontario kiyi and several species of trout. But, hey, you've eaten one trout, you've eaten them all. Damned right.

I'm in the No Frills Market. I drove here. About five blocks from the Shell station. I'm squeezing lemons. Were these lemons trucked to this market from somewhere far off? Two young, probably non-union, workers are organizing the tomatoes. Where are those tomatoes from, anyway? I'm sure some migrant workers in some blisteringly hot US state were thrilled to make their forty cents, if that, to pick them for us folks here in Ontario. How many litres of $1.27 per did that trucker burn to get it here? Because, nah, we can't be growing lemons or tomatoes here in Ontario. Nah. Bad for the economy. Damned right.

"Heard you got your car back," one No Frills worker says to the other.

"Yeah," the second replies. "Didn't have it for a whole day. I thought my life was over."

Yeah. We're all doing our part to change the world.

Damned right.