Department of Environmental Irony?

The nice lady pulled her full-size luxury SUV to a stop at the curb in front of our home and set the hand brake. It looked like she was parking, but she didn’t turn off the car’s engine, and she didn’t get out. Instead, the nice lady remained inside the leather-trimmed cabin, doing something on her phone. I was in the garden, picking tomatoes, figuring she’d shut everything down (or move on) soon. But after five minutes the truck’s motor was still running, spewing exhaust onto our parkway bed of carrots, sweet potatoes, and lettuce.

I walked around to to the driver’s side and waved.

She rolled down her window and smiled pleasantly. “Hi,” the nice lady said nicely.

“Hello,” I said cheerfully. I could hear NPR’s “All Things Considered” on the radio, so I knew this was a properly enlightened person who almost certainly accepted the phenomenon known as global warming, someone who likely opposed activities like burning coal and building oil pipelines. Someone who didn’t vote for our current president. “You’re welcome to park here,” I said. “We’re delighted to have you visit. But while you’re parked, while you’re not driving, would you please consider turning off your engine? For the sake of our veggies? And the schoolchildren?”

She flashed me a sad-face frown. “Oh my God, it’s so hot today. I’ll just be another minute or two.”

I could feel the heat radiating off the hood of her truck, the V-8 purring softly, pumping carbon into the atmosphere. “You’re right, it’s scorching,” I said. “Luckily, you’ve got air-conditioning.”

If only we could air-condition the whole planet, I thought, walking back to the garden.

Eight minutes later, “a minute or two” had passed, and she finally killed the power, so I couldn’t hear the end of the NPR segment decrying the Republican Party’s latest insult to our environment.



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