knits & plants

aah, the simple life. almost.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

encounters of the greatest kind

I've always felt a little ashamed for the people who broadcast their opinions, turn-ons, and turn-offs on the back of their cars. These are the people who never get asked, "So, how are you really?" But with a bumper sticker, you can just bypass that whole area of tact and good manners. People are going to know how you feel, like it or not. Kind of like the drunken uncle who holds court at family occasions by talking louder and more incessantly than anyone else cares to.

Then my dad left his job at Verizon to go work for a company called Efficiency Vermont. It's exactly like you'd expect. He gets paid to go around the state and convince people to switch out appliances and energy-consuming stuff for better, more efficient stuff. He gets to wear jeans. The company kitchen has a composting system. I love it.

Then he bought a Prius. It is the coolest. I don't know how Prius drivers aren't continually driving off the road because they're paying tooo much attention to the computer screen thingee.

Then we, as a family, decided that we had had enough of the state of the nation. We were always Bush dissidents, but things had gone far enough. We got, heh heh, a little more vocal. And a little more aware. Dad visits the Peace & Justice Center. We all podcast Amy Goodman's War & Peace Report every day on DemocracyNow.org. Never heard it? Go listen today. Independent, liberal media at it's best. And some damn interesting guests. We saw Michael Franti's film on a musician's journey to the Middle East. I have a copy, and foist it on as many people as want to see it.

My dad got a couple of anti-Bush stickers and put them on his car. Bush's last day, no to war, that kind of stuff. I'm so proud of him. My dad isn't, you know, political. Or, he wasn't. But he says that he just can't bear to silently witness this anymore. In thirty years I've never seen this side of him. You go Dad.

So he starts driving around, and the funniest things start happening. People start driving really aggressively, like tailgating on the Interstate. Or cutting him off and giving him the finger. A lot. I just find this all hilarious. This is Vermont, people, the liberal capital of the nation. And I just love that there are enough people out there who are upset enough about my dad's bumper stickers to respond. In traffic. This is democracy. This. is. so. excellent.

I began to see bumper stickers in a whole different light. I never thought they had such a high entertainment value. I wanted in. I did my research and came up with the Unemployed Democrats Company. heehee. I got myself and my dad the same one. See there, on the right, first link under "good stuff?" That's the one. I also got Glenn one that says, "Bush made me a Democrat" which is fun, and also true.

I put my sticker on my little Accord and off I went. Nada. Not one response in a month. Until this morning. I stop at my local Citgo for gas this morning. There are actually a lot of Citgo stations around here. Neat. There's already a large, red, older model pickup at the pump, with a gun rack and deer lights. A Nascar air freshener. And a bumper sticker. It reads:
Yikes. So I'm standing there, and the owner comes out of the store. He's about my age, and wearing a cammo baseball cap. As I watch him, he stops, reads my bumper sticker, and slowly looks up at me. Now nothing happens, really. Like the adults we are, used to living in a civil society, we smile at each other and shake our heads as if to say, "Oh you silly person. I'm not even going to spare the time to get upset at you or try to convince you to change your mind, because you and all your kind are so definitely going to be taken care of by natural selection." He fires up his truck and leaves the gas station.

I finish filling up and spend the remainder of my drive to work engrossed in speculating as to where a person like that comes from. And where he's going. A logger, I think, or a bike mechanic. There's a lot of people here who live a pretty rough life. People who don't have steady employment, and like it that way. At any rate, I think, I'm glad to be going to work in a place where everyone thinks more like me. Where they're hardworking, skilled laborers and white collar people who work very hard at running this place. Where 90% of the cars are tuned into National Public Radio when you start the engine. As I pull into the employee parking lot in the back, I think with satisfaction about how very cool my job is, and how neat it is that I get to work with such kindred spirits every day. It's a good thought, and I'm still thinking about it as I pull into a spot right next to the pickup that I just saw at the gas station.

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