If you see me riding down McLemore Avenue any- time soon on a donkey, with a beard and no mustache, wearing a large black hat, and hauling a basket of cheese and homemade fruit jam, it is because I will have fulfilled my current dream to become Amish. (Don't worry, no "clop clop, bang bang" Amish drive-by-shooting joke here.)
If I were Amish, I wouldn't have access to a computer or television set. I wouldn't have to read about BP executive Tony Hayward calling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "relatively tiny" and telling the press that because this is the United States, "of course there will be illegitimate claims" in regard to all of the lives his company — along with Transocean and Halliburton — has ruined.
First of all, it's all but criminal — and may be criminal, although it's likely that nothing will be done about it in our lifetime — that Halliburton is still in business. Second, the tiny oil spill is now producing oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one 10 miles long, three miles wide, and 300 feet thick, according to The New York Times. And, oh, those 210,000 gallons of oil now rushing into the ocean daily are okay, as far as Hayward is concerned, because the ocean is very big. It's like saying, "Cool. Only two kids got killed at a school shooting."
Hayward is snottier than a day-care center in December. I wonder if he might be a psychopath, because he really doesn't seem to care. Well, he cares about his job, the salary for which increased by 40 percent last year. I guess if he blames everyone else maybe he won't get enough of a pay cut to make a dent in his lavish lifestyle — while thousands of people go without work for who knows how long. He says BP will pay "legitimate claims." I guess we should believe that; he is, after all, in the oil business, and we all know how honest those people are.
I haven't bought gas at an Exxon station since the Valdez oil spill, and, of course, I will never pay at the pump at a BP again, but somehow that doesn't seem like enough. Corporate greed and corruption are so rampant that it leaves me scratching my bald head about how to live in the same world with them and not go completely insane — or to avoid doing anything that benefits them. I could just shrug it off and think, Oh, that's just the way things are and it's never going to change, and that may be true, but I can't handle it anymore. I got rid of every credit card years ago, because those companies are evil personified, but I can't figure out how to never drive again in Memphis and therefore never purchase another drop of gasoline from these demonic companies. My back is too bad to walk or bike to work, and my job forces me to travel all over the city some days. The bus system isn't conducive to making it to meetings on time. Also, while it is not directly operated by gas but does use electricity, I can't live in Memphis without air conditioning in my house.
I feel partly responsible for the oil spill because of all this. I think everyone should, especially the knuckleheads who drive Hummers and huge, gas-guzzling SUVs. People, YOU DO NOT NEED THESE VEHICLES unless you have to haul work supplies. I don't care how many kids you have. Get a small station wagon. You won't die. And Hummers are just grotesque. Ever been to the Green Hills Mall in Nashville? It's disgusting. Not the mall (well, all malls are disgusting to me; I almost faint every time I visit one, which is rarely) but the sheer number of Hummers jamming up traffic in the parking lot. WHY would anyone in Nashville need a Hummer? Or anywhere else in the world outside a war zone for that matter?
But enough of that. The Amish have the right idea. No flat-screen televisions, no texting while driving (also makes me faint to be in a car with someone doing that), no gas-guzzlers, no elaborate outdoor lighting systems for 40,000-square-foot houses — none of that. And how much violence do you hear about in the Amish community that's ignited by greed or someone taking someone else's parking space? It's sounding better and better all the time.
But, of course, I'm not going to do it. I'm going to keep driving my car to work and back and feeling guilty about those birds and turtles and fish covered in oil and about all of those fishermen and tourist-industry people and realtors put out of work. I'm really at a loss. I guess I could file an illegitimate claim against Hayward and BP for psychological distress and give the winnings to the fishermen, but I have a feeling it wouldn't work. Big oil is big oil. I wish I knew a way around it.