The Environmentalist’s SUV

“Just create a scene, that’s what you told us and that’s what we did. Now they are going to arrest us.” said the voice on the phone

“Look, I just asked you to grab attention, I did not ask you to get violent.” I replied

“What’s happened has happened, I think you better get here as soon as you can. We need someone who can speak legal stuff with these guys. You have 10 minutes before we are all arrested and thrown away into jail. I can already hear the police sirens. We need that court order right now before they demolish the park.” said the voice on the phone.

I hanged up the phone and sighed. There is no telling when these Greenpeace activists turn violent. Amateurs!

I grabbed the court papers, my half written court appeal, my keys and rushed down the stairs. It was only when I caught sight of my 18 speed geared bicycle that it struck me. None of the 18 speeds were capable of taking me 7 kilometres in 10 minutes.

I looked across the street at the Hummer SUV. I looked past the Hummer at my neighbour’s door. I looked at my watch. With my driving speed, I had only 3 minutes to convince him.

I knocked on the door and stared into his bulging chest as he opened the door and looked down at me.

“Yes what do you want now?” he said brusquely.

Clearly he hadn’t forgotten our earlier encounters.

“Mukesh, it is an emergency, I need your car keys” I said

He stared at me for a few seconds. Then he casually strolled back into his living room and sat down. Of all the seating options he had, he chose to sit on the leather couch as if to mock me. I picked a plastic chair as my sitting place.

Mukesh said, “It is not a car. It is an SUV. It needs a gallon of petrol to go to the next block. But I think you are already familiar with it. You invited me to your environmentalists’ seminar and gave a presentation on how fossil fuels are harming the environment and kept looking at me throughout the presentation.”

“Look, I am a nervous speaker, looking at the audience makes me nervous. Looking at someone I know in the audience gives me a sense of assurance.” I said

“You did not seem like a nervous speaker the day you brought your entire salad squad of vegans into my dining room and lectured me on the free radicals in meat that cause rapid aging and world hunger and global warming and what not.” said Mukesh

“I understand your anger but please try and understand Mukesh. It really is an emergency today.” I said

“You know what, you can have the SUV.” Mukesh said, put his hand in his pocket and placed the keys on the table. An instant later, he placed his feet on the table next to keys and added “If you can convince me, why an environment loving, vegetable worshiping, green warrior likes you needs my fossil fuel guzzling monster.”

I always wondered what size shoes my 6’4” neighbor wore. The answer now stared at me in the face as I saw the number 13 on his soles. In duplicate. It was clear that I have to use words and only words to convince Mukesh.

“Look Mukesh, the Greenpeace activists protesting against the demolition of the city park are about to be arrested, if they are arrested, there is nothing to stop the bulldozers from taking down the park in matter of minutes. I have to reach them with the legal documents. This is for the greater good. Your SUV can save three dozen trees and an entire eco system from being cut down.” I said

“Tum gaadi chalao to grater good. Hum chalaein to global warming?” said Mukesh.

“Well, I am not using it for my personal transportation like you do. I am doing it for Greenpeace” I said.

“Why don’t you cycle in that what, 50 gear cycle of yours? It also has a Greenpeace sticker on the back isn’t it?” said Mukesh

“Look Marshall, you know very well that I don’t have the time for this. Please tell me whether you can give me the SUV keys.” I said.

“I will give it to you when I hear you accept that you are a bunch of hypocrites who choose environmentalism when it suits you and only when you have to push it down the throats of your neighbours. Your concern for the environment is just a mask, a veil for you to throw away at the first sign of personal chaos. As soon as the going gets tough, you are the first to give up all your external show of caring for the environment and altruism and shit and you start fighting for your own survival. The moment we show you what your idealistic zero carbon footprint world looks like, everyone loses their mind.” Said Mukesh

As I watched Mukesh ramble on, I wondered what movie he was watching last night to have this hangover. Someone needs to knock some sense into him. But I am a foot shorter and weigh several pounds less than that someone.

Mukesh continued “The moment the chips are down, the moment things go over your head, the moment push comes to shove, the basic instinct, the animal instinct comes out in each of you. The fight or flight monster comes out. You elite bunch of environmentalist liberals don’t realise that there is an animal within each one of us that is just waiting to come out.”

As Mukesh rambled on, I noticed my fist was tightening. Was Mukesh right about the inner animal? My eyes narrowed. My pulse quickened and I could feel the adrenaline in my blood and clouds my brain. What if Mukesh is right? Is it true that deep down, we humans are only capable of the fight or flight response and nothing else?

I finally said “Yes, Mukesh, you are right”

The look of shock on his face at hearing me agree was the opening I was looking for. That gave me the fraction of second that I needed.

Like a coiled viper, I jumped up from my seat, grabbed the keys and rushed out the door believing that my life depended on it. I did not stop running till I had slammed the front door shut onto Mukesh’s rushing frame and locked it from outside. I entered the SUV, pushed the key into the ignition and started the engine.


Post Script

This piece was written at a session at Write Club on 6th August, 2016. The theme was to write a scene involving arguments from both sides of a coin.

Image Source: Treehugger


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