I was sitting in my window this morning drinking tea, intermittently looking at the birds in the trees outside and re-reading The Catcher in the Rye, now that poor old Salinger is dead. I’m not a celebrity worshipper or anything goddam stupid like that, but now that he is dead, it seems a little like Holden Caulfield himself has died, too. Of course, being fictional, Holden will never die, despite the attempts of crazed Catholic hypocrites to suffocate him.
Perhaps Holden put me in this frame of mind, or maybe I simply channel Holden’s disdain for bourgeois phoniness generally, but as I was sitting there, I noticed all the people walking past my house after having visited the farmer’s market, which is held Saturday mornings one block over. There they were, with their wicker baskets and re-usable grocery bags made from recycled pop bottles, carrying their groceries down the street. To their cars.
Yes, to their gas-powered, carbon-emitting piles of oil and steel and rubber and plastic. And not just one or two. My street is full of cars parked by people going to the market. Now, perhaps it’s my own literary projection, but this seems to me like just the kind of behaviour that Holden would identify as bourgeois phoniness. It might make them feel all warm and gelatinous inside to know that they’re directing their money toward presumed environmentally friendlier independent growers and merchants, and generally I think that is a good thing to do. But driving an automobile christ-knows-how-far in order to do so seems counter productive. Burn some non-renewable resources, pump some carbon emissions into the air, so that you can buy an apple that was grown within 100 miles and reduce the carbon emissions that are caused by food shipping.
It’s kind of like those dough-heads who went to the local green rally and held cutesy signs that read “We Don’t Want Your Truckin’ Freeways”, in opposition to the provincial government’s highway expansion plans known as Gateway. Have you looked at the freeways around here lately? For every truck, there must be 10,000 private automobiles. Trucks are not the problem. People driving their single occupancy vehicles to the mall, or to the farmer’s market – there’s the problem. They’re building another bridge over the Fraser for minivans and SUVs, not for commercial trucks.
Go ahead and use your wicker basket to carry your local apples, but if you’re going to carry it to your car and drive home, you may as well have bought the imported apples in the first place.
I leave you with a few words from Holden:
Take most people, they’re crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they’re always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that’s even newer. I don’t even like old cars. I mean they don’t even interest me. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.