Just last week, an a-hole cut me off.
You see Officer, I was driving down Milwaukee Ave, which would be wide enough for two lanes if it weren't for the meters. Well, there's this cheeky move where you sneak up the "right lane," squeezing between the real traffic and the parked cars. When the light turns green, you step on the gas, cutting the whole line. While I will admit to pulling this move on rare occasions, I try to keep my road aggression to a minimum. I do believe in driving karma.
But apparently, this guy did not. He passed everyone, rolled up next to me, started moving before the light even changed, and boom - off he went.
Why did this surprise me? Because this a-hole was driving a Prius.
Eco-friendly products are the hottest ticket in town. They are showing up in every possible store, and every conceivable industry. Companies are creating new business models left and right based on our newfound desire to curb global warming.
And these days, there's an eco motivator for everyone. That woman might be buying organic milk because she wants the cows who produced her beverage to eat grass in a happy field. Or because she doesn't want her kids drinking bovine growth hormone with their cereal. Or maybe, just maybe she lives in a nice part of town, makes decent money, and knows that shoppers around her will note her organic choice. Come on, you know you look at what other people put down at the checkout.
But now, there is an even more compelling reason to go green. Eco-conscious products are finally paying off for consumers like us. Those compact fluorescent lightbulbs might be a couple bucks more at Wal*Mart, but my god, will you save on your electric bill. It's called ROI, baby, and it's convincing even the stingiest cynics to start reducing, reusing and recycling.
Now here's the thing. Lots of people have been making eco-conscious choices for a looong time. These people are the "true believers." They are kind, giving and selfless. They have been inconveniencing themselves for years by recycling, wearing organic cotton, composting their trash and carrying lunchboxes. These folks don't get refunds for bringing their own canvas shopping bags. They don't get tax breaks for biking to work. In their hearts, you will find only generosity. They are doing it for the children, the planet, the future of mankind.
But suddenly, a ton of newcomers have jumped on the LOHAS bandwagon. And you might say some of the true believers are, well, quietly ticked. It's kind of like when your favorite indy band gets on the radio. It's equal parts "this is mine, don't take it away from me" and "I told you so."
And sure, the new eco buzz is not all genuine. Greenwashing is everywhere and lots of companies are focusing on the perception factor, rather than the real deal. Debates run rampant as to whether hybrid cars are actually better for the environment, whether it's more important to buy fair-trade or local, and the countless definitions of the word "sustainable." Is Wal*Mart conserving gas because it's responsible, or because it's cheap?
I say, who cares? We finally have a growing pool of products that are actually good for the planet, while also being - gasp! - good for our bank accounts. Hybrid cars come to mind. And I have no problem with someone buying a Prius, not because they give a damn about the earth, but simply because they want to save a buck at the pump.
Now I'll admit, the Prius driver pulling a move on me was surprising. In my stereotyping monkey brain I assumed that anyone driving a Prius was making daisy chains in the car while singing along to Peter, Paul and Mary. Obviously, I stand corrected.
But you know what - I think it's great. I hope more scrooges with road rage buy Priuses in the near future. Because we are only going to make a dent in the climate crisis when everybody gets on board, and we just don't have enough nice guys to fill the ranks. We need the a-holes, too.