Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On The List of Things I Don’t Understand

Everyday I take my lunch break at the local boat ramp. When it’s a nice day I walk out to the end of the dock and sit with my laptop where I work on my book, or I read somebody else’s book. It’s a lovely spot that overlooks Greenwich Cove, where Sabine is moored. I look at Sabine, rocking gently with the waves and wish that I could be out there casting off her lines in preparation for another sailing adventure. But instead I have to return to work in an hour. But that’s a blog post for another day.

On the days that the weather isn’t cooperating, like the last I don’t know how many weeks, I remain in my car. I roll down the windows and write or read in the driver’s seat. Other people have the same idea I as do, and they park there for their lunch breaks as well.

Today I fought the urge to walk up and introduce myself to three of the other people in their cars. These three people left their cars running the entire time I was there. They sat there idling and pumping exhaust into the air for an hour. It took all my strength to stay in my car and not walk up to them, call them an ignorant prick, reach into their windows and turn the key in the ignition off.

I felt the familiar impatient irritation rise up inside of me. I get this feeling when I see people litter, or spit on a sidewalk in front of other people, or completely blow through a stop sign without even tapping the brake pedal (another thing I encountered on my lunch break today) or nearly run me off the highway at 70 mph (another thing that happened to me on the way to work one day). It’s the kind of impatient irritation that makes me want to get in the face of the person who offended me and scream “What the hell is the matter with you?!”

I saw in my car, reading a copy of Writer’s Digest, and tried not to get out of my car and storm over to these other people and do just that. And then on my way back from lunch break I stewed at my propriety. I mean, change doesn’t happen unless somebody stands up and does something to effect change right? Could I have accomplished something if I went up to these people idling in their cars and say “You know, you are polluting our air by running your car like that. I happen to enjoy breathing clean air, will you please turn your car off.”

Of all the things we know about climate change, pollution, and wasting gas, I just do not understand who in their right mind can sit there for an hour and idle their car like that. If these people don’t care about pollution, at the very least don’t they care about their wallet? If only they realized that they are pumping their money out of their tail pipe with this nasty habit.

It’s such a fine line to walk when wanting to go up to a stranger to ask them to stop doing something that makes me crazy—and to do it in such a way that I don’t come off all holier-than-thou. And the more I think about it, the more frustrated I am with myself that I didn’t do anything about it.

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Anonymous crisitunity said...

If the weather is very hot, then I'd guess they're just trying to enjoy the air conditioning. Which they could do just as well in their offices without wasting emissions.

I admit that I sometimes sit and allow my car to run in park while I run the A/C. I do this only when I have no place else to go and I'm waiting for a class to begin and it is stupid hot out.

I am sorry.

I feel the same irritation you describe towards people who litter. It's an incoherent "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, YOU GIGANTIC JERK???"

June 30, 2009 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

But if I saw you doing it, I would probably silently gnash my teeth and not say anything.

July 1, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

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