oh my god.
let me share a memory with y’all. it’s from i guess 1978 or thereabouts. it’s high summer. i don’t remember where my mom was driving me, in our avocado green chevette, i just know there was a traffic jam that turned 35w northbound into a parking lot from horizon to horizon.
picture it – wait, you don’t have to use your imagination, this happened all the damn time back then.
every one of those damn cars was burning leaded gasoline. there were no emissions regulations. there were no safety regulations. there were just thousands and thousands of detroit steel shoeboxes belching visible smoke as they idled, engines loud and hot, here and there a radiator giving up in the heat, a cloud of burning oil rising.
i, a smeet of five or six, was choking on toxic smog.
i reckon it was about a half hour into the traffic jam that i first threw up. i remember a blinding headache, i remember being confused, i remember dry heaving with my arms and head hanging out the window, the green metal of the car burning my hands and my chin. i don’t remember passing out, but i’m told i lost consciousness before mom was able to get to an off-ramp, because there were no emergency lanes on the highways back then.
i lived. and life went on. what were we going to do, complain? if i’d died, the cause of death probably would’ve been recorded as heatstroke, not carbon monoxide poisoning.
i know i’m probably preaching to the choir here on tumblr. but i really wish i could tell that story to the people who think deregulation is no big deal. i wish they’d put themselves in my mom’s shoes.
or even just look at some old pictures, then look out the window.
ever notice how cityscapes used to have that orange tint and hazy aura? yeah, that’s poison gas.
remember how the mississippi river used to be a stinking soup of baby-shit yellow sludge covered with disturbingly stiff rafts of light orange foam?
i can’t even find pictures of the sludge and foam, i guess they didn’t end up on the internet. the smell was indescribable. that oily shimmer. the reek of dead things. people didn’t boat on the river for pleasure; it smelled too bad, it was too ugly, and you could get super super sick if you touched the water.
and now look at it.
i still wouldn’t want to drink it, but if i fell in i wouldn’t bolt for the shower in a panic, you know?
if the thieving billionaires get their way, we can kiss those sailboats goodbye, and learn the smell of toxic foam once more. the ultra-rich won’t even feel the extra money, they’ve already got more than they could ever touch, they just stash it in offshore accounts to rot, but the rest of us will return to a time of neverending nausea and weird cancers. a time when every elementary school class had at least one kid who’d been born with no fingers or their heart outside their body, and this was just… the way things were.
i’m sorry. i didn’t mean to longpost. it’s just. god. y’all have no idea how CLEAN everything is now, compared to when i was a kid. and these rich old men are counting on that, on people not knowing or not remembering how bad it was before regulation, not realizing how much we need these protections until it’s too late.
edit: replaced the last pic because i accidentally grabbed lake calhoun instead of the river. now it’s the mississippi.
found @ 23 likes ON 2019-03-03 02:43:07 BY ME.ME