Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil On My Hands

In the aftermath of the oil spill, when follow-up reporting began to suggest that BP might not have done or been doing all it could to do to make things right, I found myself pulled to join with those who have made the decision to stop patronizing BP.  I've now decided that I will not participate in this de facto boycott, and here's why.

1)  The least important reason is that the only gas station that is on my regular driving route is the BP station just down the street from my house.  To fill up my car anywhere else would require a 4-mile round trip just for that purpose.  BP is not the only, nor will it be the last, oil company who finds themselves responsible for making a mess of our waters.  It is only a matter of time before this happens again, and isn't the bigger issue reducing our dependence on oil in the first place?   How does that get accomplished if I use more fuel now? 

2)  Maybe you don't live in a neighborhood that is suffering -- mightily -- from urban blight.  Maybe you don't live in a neighborhood where businesses have closed up and left empty buildings and empty lots to degrade your geography -- but I do.  At the intersection through which I pass multiple times daily, one of the anchors is "my" BP station.  If that's gone because business falls off precipitously I have become part of another complex problem, one that will affect my neighborhood in a devastating way now -- and in the future. 

3)  Usually, I fill up my car and pay at the pump and never see the person inside.  Occasionally, however, the need does arise to go in, and no matter how infrequently this happens, there is always a human being in there (usually a woman, and usually a middle-aged woman) working behind the counter.  One must suppose that if she had amazing, marketable job skills she might be working someplace safer, with a better chance of advancing and making a much better life for herself and her family, if she has one. If I stop using "my" BP station, and if others do the same, and they close -- where does this woman go?

I understand that on a big, global scale, forcing BP to its knees financially might make folks feel better; might actually effect some sort of change, so y'all rock on with your bad selves and your boycott, free of any disapproval from me.  We all have to to what we have to do.

But as for me?  I'm going to continue to invest -- not in BP -- but in my neighborhood, and in That Woman Behind the Counter


  1. Thank you, Eleanor, for your typical levelheaded take on things.