Louella Has An Awakening

by A.C. Cherbonnier

THE PILOT announced they were flying over the Rockies, but all they could see was clouds. “Nice of them to let you know you’re still attached to the Earth,” observed her seatmate, Carolyn, as she began rummaging in her briefcase. She pulled out a small insulated bag, unzipped it, and produced a container of yogurt and a plastic spoon.

“I see you came supplied,” said Louella. “The peanuts not enough for you?”

“It’s not that,” said Carolyn as she stirred up the fruit. “I don’t like to put anything in my body that’s not good for me.”

“Guess that explains the expensive yogurt, huh? That stuff’s supposed to have less sugar.”

“Yeah, a lot less. Tastes good, though. And look at this.” She passed Louella the lid from the container.

It had on it a picture of a cow with a quote blurb reading, “Did you knoooow...” and a headline saying “Wake up Washington.” The little type said, “Increasing U.S. auto efficiency by 1 mpg would save more fuel than will be produced from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Tell Washington the only real refuge for our children is energy conservation.” It referenced the company website,

“Wow! That takes guts!” said Louella. “They’re probably going to lose some sales over this.”

“Maybe so. But people like me are going to support them.”

“Are you sure they’re telling the truth? I mean, I got a letter from one of our Congressmen—Ehrlich—and he said they’re only going to do construction in a little part of the Refuge. I think he said only about the equivalent of three square inches on a football field. So it can’t be that big a deal.”

“You know, I was beginning to think you might be smart,” snapped Carolyn. “But if you are, you’re not using your brains. Look, that ‘three square inches’ is going to be spread out all over that football field, a little bit here, a little there. We’re nuts to do that. The whole thing’s a fraud, a kiss-off to the oil companies. They pretty much own the government, you know.”

Louella felt herself blushing. “I think you’re rude to talk to me that way! This is only a matter of opinion. I could be just as right as you are!”

“And suppose you aren’t?”

“Well, I think I am right. Our congressman actually visited that place, so he ought to know. He said it was just a bunch of mud.”

“Yeah, he probably flew over it. Didn’t even walk it. I have.”

“You have?”

“One of my clients is a nonprofit that works on environmental issues. They sent me up there so I’d be able to know what I’m talking about. And I’m telling you, this drilling thing is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

“Hear, hear!” said a young man standing in the aisle waiting to use the rest room. He smiled at them, showing four missing front teeth.

“You’re wondering about the teeth, right?” he asked. They nodded. “Got ’em knocked out in Genoa during the G8 demonstration. I’m getting ’em fixed in Mexico. Can’t afford U.S. dentists. Great system, huh?”

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This story was published on October 3, 2001.