I gave my brakes a squeeze as I turned left onto 16th street, swerving my bike into the slow lane of traffic while scanning the area for subway entrances. Center city is where all the major trains and trolleys converge, so there were about 10 separate stairways to the underground in a two-block radius, all of them crowded with people entering and exiting. I was hoping to be discreet, which wouldn’t be the case if I made the drop off at any of these entrances. I sucked exhaust as the light turned green and the bus in front of me revved its engine. I crossed the street and immediately saw the perfect location. Why hadn’t I thought of Love Park before? I pulled my bike up onto the sidewalk, then rode slowly into the park, next to a circular building that appeared to be closed at the moment. The coast was clear, I grabbed the small black plastic tube out of my backpack, placed it under the nearest bush, and unscrewed the cap.
I rarely enjoy talking about being vegan. I think my non-enjoyable to enjoyable conversation ratio on the subject is about 20 to 1. One problem is that vegans have a reputation for being preachy. There are two reasons for this. The first is that some vegans are annoyingly zealous about veganism, like tofu eating Jehovah’s witnesses. The second is that most people are vegan for ethical reasons. It is extremely hard to hear someone talk about why they believe a choice they’ve made is ethical, when you make the opposite choice on a regular basis. Hey man, you asked.
Another common annoyance I experience is people who say something along the lines of wow, I’m so impressed, I could never be vegan. Well, actually you probably could, and I’m not particularly interested in how hard you imagine it might be for you. I put I could never be vegan into the same category as I could never ride my bike to work or I could never go without a cell phone. Sure, there are a small quantity of people for whom these things are true, but mostly what you mean is that you don’t want to, which is completely fine by me. What I’d like to hear instead is that you’ve made a choice to be an omnivore or a vegetarian because you think X about animals. These are the 5% of conversations that are actually interesting!
Finally, I want you to know that you don’t need to be impressed. I’ve been vegan for 7 years, 95% of the time I don’t think about it, it’s just part of the way I live. I don’t feel like a martyr for animals or the environment or anything like that. Being vegan isn’t even hard at this point, with only a few exceptions. Which brings us back to the original story:
Helen and I (well, mostly Helen) have been dealing with mice in our apartment for the past few months. We’ve mouse-proofed as many things as we can, but its come to the point where we need to forcibly remove them. We acquired a highly-rated no-kill mouse trap and caught our first mouse last night. Since I didn’t want the mouse to go live in another house, I decided to take it downtown, where the largest population of mice live along the subway tracks.
As the terrified mouse bounds out of the plastic tube in the bushes of Love Park, several thoughts cross my mind:
1. I don’t think this is a sustainable way to get rid of the mice in our home.
2. I think realistically his chances of survival are slim.
3. Goodbye Ralph S. Mouse, or Stuart Little, or Benjamin (the meetinghouse mouse), or Algernon, or Martin (the warrior). Why did I read so many books that made me love mice?
In case you think I’m the only one who is soft on mice. Here is a transcript of my conversation with Helen this morning:
Helen: What are you gonna do with it?
Me: Take it to work
Helen: Don’t you think it will get scared being so bumpy?
Me: I’m not too worried about him being scared, he’s been stuffed in a tube for who knows how many hours
Helen: Well can you try to put a lot of padding around him so he won’t bounce as much?