Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boycotting BP in Real Time

The BP gas station shined like a lighthouse beacon on a dark ocean. It sparkled new and the white paint everywhere reflected the sunny afternoon. The green and yellow BP logo beckoned. There were no other stations in sight in this unknown town somewhere off the highway. The dashboard dummy light chimed to tell me the gas tank was down to vapors. Yet the summer of BP's Gulf disaster loomed.

I slowed down and pulled in. The pumps stood ready, no line, wide open. Other petroleum companies could be as bad or far worse. BP is certainly not going to miss my forty dollars. Another familiar logo beckoned me. At this station, BP had teamed with Dunkin Donuts. How could those tasty donut holes be all bad?

Just get the damn gas, I thought.  Like the tree falls in the woods question, if someone boycotts a company but no one sees it, does it have an impact? After Exxon Valdez trashed Alaska many people vowed not to buy Exxon gasoline anymore. Eventually that conviction faded and many people went back to basing their gas purchase decisions on normal things like price and convenience.

I drove off in search of another station. The Gulf disaster is complicated, yes, there were many companies involved, accidents happen, but my intuition from consuming a wide variety of media around the disaster tells me that BP doesn't care one bit about the environment; they're part of the problem.

Still running on empty, I took a few random turns and watched the miles click by. I added more carbon to the atmosphere just looking for a gas station other than BP. What's the green calculus on that one? Ridiculous. If I actually run out of gas -- other than a confirmed idiot -- does it make me a martyr?

Then I saw another gas station in the distance. It was another BP station. I laughed aloud. Is this a test? There was no turning back, though, so I kept going right past the white pumps and the eye-catching logo, again. Around the corner and there was a another station -- not BP.

Filling up with a clear conscience but still a little empty, I tried unsuccessfully to see how we're going to get there if even a simple thing like getting gas can be so convoluted.  Maybe I'll boycott thinking about it for awhile.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

Of course, BP has largely sold its retail stations, so you were keeping some independent station owner from being able to feed his or her family. All BP gets out of the deal is credit card processing fees and annual rights payments to to use the logo.

But, if it makes you feel better to try to screw a multinational corporation out of a few cents here and there, then by all means keep it up.