Los Angeles in a Ford Escort
Don’t be misled by my green-ish reflections on garbage. The truth is that being in California has not helped my own relationship with the planet. There were two incidents this week of which I guess I should be ashamed.
The first was with my Rent A Wreck car. I realise that I have become Californian in one sense at least: I cant envisage getting anywhere (even to shop a few blocks away) except behind the wheel. So when the Wreck wouldn’t start when I left for work the other morning, all I could think to do was to call up and get an immediate replacement. I mean, how could I live without a car?
Actually, there had been a starting problem for some weeks, but Dave at Rent A Wreck had been up-beat in his suggestion that turning the key a bit more often should do the trick (typical advice of a man to a woman with a starting problem I later decided…would he ever have said that to a bloke?). But on Wednesday I decided that half an hour of turning the key was long enough and rang for help.
The man was here within minutes, and happily couldn’t start it either (I was relieved to discover, because that’s always the humiliating bit – like when the Computer Officer answers your SOS, rushes downstairs and just switches the machine on at the mains). So now instead of an aged baby blue Toyota Corolla, I’m cruising round in a very slightly less aged brown Ford Escort (both of them red cadillacs in my head of course).
The second piece of environmental violence was a bit more surprising.
I needed to get a CD from Brussels, fast. It had burnt onto it the details of 60 research grant applications that I am to evaluate by today…and I wanted a good week at it, to do anything like a fair job. So the lady in Brussels said she would DHL it.
I have to say at the outset that DHL was truly wonderful. Not only did they get it to me pretty quickly, but they also have a website with a clever tracking device, so that you can see how far along the route from Brussels to Los Angeles your treasured package has got.
This is where the surprise came in. I naively supposed that if you were sending something from Brussels to LA, then it would go to Brussels airport and fly to LAX (probably in the hold of some passenger jumbo. . . ). I couldn’t have been more wrong. It did go to Brussels airport, but -- far from speeding across the Atlantic -- it made straight for the East Midlands airport near Derby. At this point (so my tracking log records) it had a seven hour wait in “the Facility”, presumably because it wasn’t actually on the “overnight super-fast service”, so it had to lose time somewhere. Then it did make its move to America, but not to California. It touched down in Wilmington, Ohio – before three hours later taking off again, at last, for Burbank CA (I think it should have gone to Santa Monica airport, but I had mis-typed the zipcode, so they routed it to Burbank) . . . and then on, in a van, to me.
Of course, I was hugely pleased to see it. But if this is the way all couriered packages make their way around the world, then they each must have the carbon footprint of an ox.
I’m now going to try sending one to Australia and see how that wends its way.