Why I Boycott Texaco

When I was 8 years old, my mother decided it would be a good idea to put me on a bus, all alone, to take a 15 hour trip to Rutland, Vermont to visit my 18 year old sister who was living in a teepee on a hippie commune. From an adult perspective, I cannot believe that any mother would make this choice. It had “very bad plan” written all over it. But my mother lived in a state of denial, which meant I never felt quite safe. (I rarely do, even to this day.)

I can’t remember how long I was there. A couple weeks, I think. It felt like an eternity. The general theme of this little jaunt seemed to be, “Barb, why can’t you just go with the flow?” Because, like, what 8 year old needs structure, right?

At some point my sister realized that just running back and forth on the path from the teepee to the outhouse wasn’t going to keep me entertained. And teaching me to pick mint (“See? The stems are square.”) wouldn’t distract me for long. So she decided we’d take a road trip.

The only problem was, she didn’t have a car. She enjoyed hitchhiking with me, because people would always stop to pick up a little kid. (Which is borderline creepy in and of itself.) But where she planned to take me would require legitimate transportation.

To be honest, I can’t remember where we were going. A zoo, or something. We never got there.

She borrowed a friend’s car. It was barely roadworthy. The upholstery was all cut up, and it backfired a lot. I was just happy to get out of the damned teepee. So off we went.

Part way to our destination, we stopped at a Texaco station to get gas. This was the early 70’s and there was no self-service. The gas station attendant, a clean cut, tense-jawed man, took one look at this hippie-mobile and was immediately hostile toward its scruffy occupants. (I can’t remember how we bathed. Needless to say, there was no shower in the teepee.)

I didn’t understand what was going on. We just wanted gas. We had money. This kind of thing never happened to mom. Why was he being mean? He also seemed to be very focused on our license plate.

A couple miles further down the road, we found out why. A cop pulled us over. Our license plates had expired. My sister had known this. She was just hoping nobody would notice.

In this more innocent time, my sister got out of the car to talk to the officer. Left alone while he took her license and registration, I got it into my head that he was going to take her to jail. What would happen to me? Where would I go? I didn’t even know how to contact my mother. I burst into tears.

That’s putting it mildly. Actually, I started wailing. My sister was going to jail, and I was going to be left on the street in some strange town to starve to death. I was going to DIE!

Finally the officer approached the vehicle and said, “What’s the matter, honey?”

I screamed, “You leave my sister ALONE!!!!”

In this day and age, I’d probably have gotten my little ass shot.

I was left alone in the car to wail until the tow truck came, at which time my snotty, red-faced self was bundled into the back of the cruiser with my sister. I cried during the entire drive to the station. I cried in the station.

My sister called another friend to come get us. He had his deaf 4 year old in tow. Kids have always freaked me out, even when I was one myself. But this kid, with his hippie parents who had allowed him to go rogue, was completely out of control.

I was trapped in the back seat with this Tasmanian devil for the entire ride home. I must say, he caused me to stop crying, because, not being able to hear himself, he was able to scream so loudly it could cause your ears to bleed. To this day, I’ve never heard another human produce such a prodigious sound.

And it didn’t help that I suffered from migraines, and all my crying and the lack of food all day had brought one on, big time. So I proceeded to throw up all over this guy’s back seat. (I could produce amazing amounts of vomit back then when the spirit moved me.)

That’s really all I can remember of the story, other than the fact that I heard my sister tell her friend that the Texaco guy had turned us in. I vowed from that moment on to never, ever buy my gas at a Texaco station.

And I never have. I’m a 52 year old woman. I’ve been driving for 36 years. That’s a lot of freakin’ gas. I will drive miles out of my way to avoid Texaco. On more than one occasion I’ve nearly run out of gas while searching for a non-Texaco station. Take that, Texaco!

It’s really kind of ironic since we can’t know for sure if that hippie-hating gas station attendant actually ever did drop a dime on us.

I also boycott Exxon, because of Exxon Valdez, and BP because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This makes fueling my car an increasing challenge. I look forward to the day when all vehicles are alternatively fueled. It’s not easy, voting with your conscience. It’s even harder to vote with your post traumatic stress.

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Wild mint. I tried to find a picture that shows that the stems really are square, but I had no luck. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

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Good God, He’s at it Again.

Just when you think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can’t wander any further out on the lunatic fringe, he does just that. This time he ranted not about homosexuals or AIDS or hippies (Are there enough hippies left to rant about? Apparently so.) but what he appears to consider the most evil creatures of all: atheists.

It seems that this silly, ignorant old man equates atheism with a lack of morality. As far as I can tell, his message boiled down to this: without a belief in a judging, Christian god, you cannot be afraid of consequences, and therefore can run wild and give in to your baser instincts.

But here’s what really gave me the willies about his speech: he showed the world exactly what his instincts would be, and even for someone as desensitized as little ol’ me, who is a true crime documentary addict, his scenario was chilling. I won’t go into detail about it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined. But suffice it to say that his violent, sadistic story would make the most diehard serial killer gasp. It takes a special kind of twisted imagination to come up with a plot like that. I wouldn’t want to run into this guy in a dark alley, just in case his god was off duty that day.

I’m not an atheist, but neither am I a Christian. I have never equated my moral compass with my spirituality. In fact, this recent study shows, and history bears it out, that religion doesn’t make people more moral.

I always strive to do the right thing, not because I fear going to hell, but because, well, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t behave decently out of fear. I behave decently because I’d like to think that others will do the same. Otherwise we could not have a functioning society. You can believe in the golden rule without believing that the bible is the voice of god.

If anything, I think that the more you are taught to question, the less dogmatic you are, the more moral you will be. If from birth you are force fed the concept that there is only one right way, and all other ways are wrong, it would be so much easier to stray from a path that you consider to be righteous, and once you’ve done that, once you decide that you’re a bad person, all bets are off. On the other hand, if you are taught to think for yourself, to consider your options, and to realize how your actions will impact those around you, you will be much more apt to care about the consequences of your behavior.

Yes, there is evil in this world. It spans across all religions and every philosophy. Some people are just sick, and I think Phil Robertson’s latest speech demonstrates that he’s one of those people. That’s all there is to it.

Phil Robertson

Come the Apocalypse, I Want to be with my Dog.

I have a new theory. The best possible thing that can happen when you are searching for a mate is a horrible first date, because then you can see how that person reacts under pressure. Stress separates the men from the boys. It cuts through all the surface bs and shows you what someone is truly made of. There are all sorts of ways of dealing with negativity, as evidenced by nature. All of these ways are legitimate, but only a few of them are viable in terms of a life partner in this modern world. Here are a few examples.

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The Shark. In times of great tension, the shark will not only attack the source of the problem, but will also turn on anyone and anything that happens to be in his vicinity, even members of its own family. When in the midst of this feeding frenzy, the shark has absolutely no regard for loyalty, and does not care about who is on his side. When in the presence of this type of fury, there is nothing you can do except prepare to be eaten. Frankly, I find the shark to be tragic and self-destructive. And the most depressing thing about the shark is he cannot see why this type of behavior is a problem. Somehow being eaten will become your fault. You’ll never feel completely safe with a shark.

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The Fainting Goat. Also known as the Myotonic Goat, this poor creature freezes in times of panic and keels over, thus rendering him utterly useless to himself or anyone else. I used to date one of these. Don’t ask me why.

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The Turtle. When the sh*t comes down and you’re with a turtle, you are on your own. He will pull himself into his shell and wait for the boogeyman to go away. Oh, he’ll protect himself all right, but he won’t confront anyone or anything and prefers to live in a state of denial. He’s completely resistant to change, which makes improvement impossible. Also, if you come by his house and he doesn’t feel like talking, he simply won’t come to the door. Who needs that?

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The Badger. No need to wait for a crisis situation when on a date with a badger. He’s going to be in a foul mood regardless, even if you could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s never going to see it.

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The Porcupine. Now, here’s a guy who is prepared. He doesn’t want to be messed with, and has made sure that he won’t be. The problem is, since all he wants is to be left alone, he’ll never let you in.

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The Octopus. I have to admire this guy’s ability to avoid conflict. I like his stealth and intelligence. But if none of that works, he shoots ink. Do you want someone who’s going to throw stuff at you? No. That, and he tends to be clingy.

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Frilled Lizard. You’ve probably seen one of these guys on the National Geographic channel. When you piss one of them off, the frill on their neck expands and they’ll chase you on two feet. Yes, they look intimidating and they get the job done for the most part, but honestly, what would happen if you stood your ground with them? Not too much, I suspect. I think you’d win that confrontation. These guys are all sizzle and no steak.

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The Rattlesnake. The rattler is sort of a first strike kind of guy. He prefers to be the aggressor in anticipation of any possible antagonism you may or may not have in mind. Don’t hang out with the rattlesnake if you’re hoping for cozy get togethers with groups of friends.

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The Praying Mantis. Honestly? Do you really want to hang out with a guy who is so desperate for sex that he’s willing to go there with you even though he knows he’s going to get his head bitten off for his troubles? This guy is so focused on what he wants that he has no concept of the consequences.

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The Meerkat. I have to admit that I have a certain fondness for meerkats. They’re loyal. They’re family oriented, they’re protective, they’re cautious. But they’re also an emotional drain. They’re constantly anticipating trouble. They’re always on the lookout. Their watchword is paranoia. They never seem to relax.

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The Benobo. Scientists have dedicated their lives to studying benobos, because these cousins of ours seem to be totally devoid of aggression. They’re the hippies of the primate world. They’re all about free love and live and let live. I could see myself getting caught up in this lifestyle, but I suspect I’d get fat and complacent, and years would go by without my realizing it.

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The Dog. Dogs don’t seek fights, and in fact try to avoid them, but if you eff with them, they’ll take you out. I can respect that. They tend to restrict their aggression to those that deserve it. They’re loyal and protective, and usually generous and kind unless they’ve been abused. They’d much rather cuddle with you than argue, but they’ll do what they have to in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. A dog will always have your back. They also know how to heave a heavy sigh and release all tension. This, to me, is a very healthy and well-balanced approach to life. Yup, I’ll take a dog every time.

So next time you’re thrust into the dating world, pray for a flash flood or an earthquake or an armed robbery, because then you’ll know exactly what you’ve got on your hands. Disaster can save you a lot of time and heartache.