Matt Zalaznick: You can pry my SUV out my cold, dead …
Vail CO, Colorado
I recycle plastic and newspapers and office paper; I’ve installed compact fluorescent light bulbs; I rinse out Ziploc bags until they disintegrate; I try not to flush the toilet every time I pee … OK, so I don’t compost or have any solar panels, and I drive a car.
I drive a car!
And THEY want me to get rid of it. Or drive it less. Or get a smaller one that’s made out of recycled Styrofoam peanuts. They make me feel so guilty about enjoying my morning commute because now that I have satellite radio I sometimes circle the roundabouts a few extra times listening to CNN’s pundits discuss who Angelina Jolie’s twins are going to endorse for president.
Question: How many roundabout trips does it take to melt an iceberg or flood a small atoll in the Indian Ocean?
I cringe every time I can fit tons of stuff into my Toyota 4-Runner ” some of it in reusable cloth grocery bags. I cringe because of all the gas I’m using hauling all that stuff around. Extra stuff that I couldn’t carry on a bike ” like road maps of Nova Scotia and emergency snow boots, in July. But what if? What if all of the sudden I’m lost in a blizzard in the Canadian Maritimes?
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I carry a few gallons of windshield washer fluid, baby toys, tools, cell phone accessories, a phone book, empty boxes, and man if I can’t sometimes hear the coral reefs dying as I rumble along Highway 6 weighed down with junk there’s a one-in-a-thousand chance I’ll need.
But I am and always have been an American from the suburbs ” I didn’t grow up in some Vespa-swarmed European village, OK? I don’t want to toodle along on my scooter to a power lunch.
And I’ve done the commute on the bus and on the subway and that feeling of doing something good for the environment by keeping your car off the road wears off after about the first stop or two, right? As soon as the guy in the seat in front of you tells you to stop following him or a baby throws an ice cream cone at your head.
I like ” I love, I adore, I need ” the freedom of being able to stop for beef jerky and a fountain soda on the way home. Has a bus driver ever done that for you? Have you ever noticed a convenience store in a subway tunnel?
Do you know how much gas and oil and water and other precious resources are used to make one half-pound bag of teriyaki elk jerky? Do you know how many solar panels could be installed on schools with all the money made by Big Jerky?
And on top of it all, now I’m supposed to hope for Coloradans to come to their senses and fund a multi-billion-dollar monorail from Denver to Vail. As a proud resident of the I-70 mountain corridor, I’m supposed to think that’s the solution to all our traffic and air pollution problems.
But I can’t really imagine riding it. Unless there will be monorail stops at the zoo in Denver, the Babies R’Us in Lakewood, the Best Buy in Golden, the Virgin Megastore downtown, the Target in Silverthorne, Bagali’s in West Vail, the market in Riverwalk (just to pick up some type of lunch meat that’s produced in some smog-spewing plant somewhere …)
So what I’m saying is can’t you please figure out how my car can run on water or bark or grass or extinct animals or the ambient heat in the air? I’m willing to use a sail if I have to, because what would Jack Kerouac say? What’s going to happen to the great American tradition of traveling the back roads?
I think Kerouac would’ve done it in a hybrid, but not a monorail.
Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.