Friday, February 4, 2011

State of Emergency

I didn't turn on the internet radio or look up our local news before jumping in the truck to go into town for supplies. It was -26F Wednesday night and we woke up to no water on Thursday. As my whole day was planned around what I was going to do after my shower, plans had changed. We needed water to drink, water the dogs, brush our teeth, make some tea, you get the idea. Also, this week, my pamphlets from Vegan Outreach arrived:

I was going to leaflet at UNM-Taos, but being that after jumping in the truck to get supplies we found out that Gov. Martinez had declared a state of emergency in NM, and that our fellow Taosenos were without natural gas, i.e. heat, and UNM was closed, I headed to the Cid's to buy water. Then off to Albertson's for a couple of last minute items (yes, baking parchment paper is an essential if one is to be trapped in the kitchen with limited human contact).

This is what the line looked like at the supermarket:

What you can't see is that the lines go all around the perimeter of the store. I had about a 1 hour wait. So, I pulled out two of my pamphlets and held them face-out for all to see. I had just finished reading The Animal Activist's Handbook by Matt Ball, founder of Vegan Outreach. It's not what I thought it would be about. It focuses on listening skills and how to maintain equanimity in the face of the absurd.

Well, being that life is such a nifty little teacher, I stood behind a gent, long hair in a pony tail, about 65 years old, clutching a carton of eggs, a half gallon of milk and a package of brats like they were a life raft. He was talking to anyone who would listen about the conspiracy of the government (which is not unusual for one in Taos), and the benefits of the Tea Party (which is highly unusual for one in Taos). This was my guy, I thought. 

I turned towards him and without skipping a beat, he started his rhetoric in my direction. I listened and asked questions, hell, I had an hour to kill. I finally found a way to artfully insert a few well placed comments about compassionate eating and off we went.

Now, I knew that this was just a test in listening, not getting emotional, and keeping my balance. He was a wonderful teacher. By the end of the hour, he actually accepted a pamphlet, and headed off to his own cashier. To my amazement however, as he was leaving the store, and I was still checking out, he came up to me and thanked me for our conversation!

Score. It was the hugest success I could have imagined. I spoke at length with an individual who was as difficult as could be, and we left on friendly terms, him clutching a pamphlet in his hand. My very first pamphlet recipient.

The rest of the day seemed rather peaceful. Oh, and the baking parchment did come in handy - Coconut Lemon Bundt:


  1. I want to thank you very much for sharing that story, and sharing this information with others. I had similar situations today where I connected with people I may otherwise not have - both farmers - and convinced them at least to a small degree that factory farming is something some people choose to oppose.

  2. Thanks Josh! I appreciate your story as well. It's nice to hear from others doing the work as sometimes I feel like a 'stranger in a strange land.'

  3. Very unique post! Thanks for sharing VO with others :)

    Brian Grupe
    Northern CA Outreach Coordinator
    Vegan Outreach

  4. This gas outage will become a Taos Legend I'm sure. It was craziness in town that day.