Travel Companion. Part 2: Coffee with soy milk
A friendly yet very important chat with a young woman over a cup of coffee. Bill seems like a harmless guy, but why does he need all these ballpoint pens?
Evolve or die!
Bill didn’t stay in Paris for long. Two days later he bought a plane ticket to Dubai.
During the pre-flight inspection, he put his suitcase on the moving belt and went through the metal detector.
Officer: Sir, is this your suitcase?
Bill: Yes, it’s mine. Is there a problem?
Officer: Did you pack it yourself?
Bill: Yes. But what is the problem?
Officer: Please, come with me to the search desk.
Bill: What? What for? For what reason?
Officer: Standard procedure, sir, don’t worry.
Bill: Standard? Why are you only searching me then? Do I look like a terrorist?
Bill spoke louder and louder. Onlookers began to gather around to see how the story will develop.
Officer: Sir, don't make a fuss. Come with me, please.
Bill obeyed and trudged on to the security table. The officer took the walkie-talkie and said something in French. Bill’s suitcase was laying on the table. A minute later, another airport security officer appeared with a dog. They let the dog sniff the suitcase.
Bill watched with his mouth open as the dog grunted over his suitcase and, apparently not finding anything, stepped aside. The officer said something to his colleague and left.
Officer: Sir, come here. Could you open the suitcase?
Looking very displeased, Bill opened the suitcase and stepped away. The suitcase contained some personal items packed for a short trip, toiletries, a book and a box. The officer carefully examined the contents of the suitcase.
Officer: Sir, open this box, please.
Bill: Can't you do it yourself?
Officer: These are the rules, sir. Please, open the box.
Bill stepped up and opened a small box. Inside it lay thirty or forty identical ballpoint pens.
Officer: What is this?
Bill: What does it look like?
Officer: Like a ballpoint pen. May I (takes one of the pens)?
Bill: Please, go ahead.
The officer took a notebook out of her pocket and used the pen to write a couple of lines. Then she returned the pen to the box.
Officer: Sorry, sir. We apologize for the inconvenience. Have a pleasant flight.
Bill: Can you at least tell me what happened?
Officer: (comes closer to Bill and speaks very quietly) I’m not supposed to talk about this... but a man approached us and said that you may be carrying drugs. According to our rules, we had to search you.
Bill: Drugs? What nonsense! Do I look like a drug dealer? This is simply absurd!
Bill packed up his suitcase, which was still laying open on the search table, and went to look for his gate. The loudspeaker system announced that the Paris-Dubai flight was delayed by 2 hours, and Bill decided to stop for a snack somewhere.
Bill: Excuse me, do you speak English?... No?... Tell me, do you have coffee with soy or rice milk?... What?... I don’t understand you.
The girl who was sitting at the nearby table heard Bill's futile attempts to use gestures and explain what he wanted to the waiter, and decided to help.
Rachel: (in French) Monsieur, this gentleman wants coffee with soy or rice milk. Do you have that?... Okay, let's go with soy. Thank you.
The waiter left.
Bill: Thank you very much. I really thought of calling the embassy and asking them to send an interpreter. These French... They are so mean. They don’t want to speak English. I’d understand if this happened in the city, but at the airport? Oh, well. Thanks again!
Rachel: You are welcome. Always happy to help, especially a vegan.
Bill: Vegan? How did you know that I am a vegan? Maybe I'm just allergic to milk protein.
Rachel: (smiling) Unlikely. Your suitcase gave you away.
Bill: The suitcase?
Rachel: Yeah. You have some curious stickers on it. (she nodded toward the suitcase that was standing at Bill’s feet) “Save the whales,” “Preserve nature for our children,” “Protect endangered species”... So, I made an educated guess.
Bill: Hmm, interesting. May I sit at your table? My flight was delayed for several hours. I would love to spend this time in pleasant company.
Rachel: Um, sure, of course. (she removes her stuff from a chair at her table)
Bill took the suitcase and sat at the table with Rachel.
Bill: By the way, my name is Bill.
Rachel: And I'm Rachel, nice to meet you.
Bill: Are you on a vegetarian diet too?
Rachel: I'm a vegan, just like you.
Bill: Why did you give up animal products?
Rachel: It all started when I got sick. Doctors prescribed me a bunch of drugs. And one doctor suggested a vegan diet. Since then, I have stopped eating meat, fish, milk and eggs. And then I realized that this is not just beneficial for me – it’s good for the whole planet, for animals and for other people. Now being vegan is not just a diet for me – it's a way of life. You can even say it is my worldview. Recently, I quit wearing leather and fur...
The waiter brought Bill’s coffee.
Bill: This is a pretty bold step nowadays. People do nothing at all. Going to the supermarket and to work does not count (smiles slightly). I was actually led to being a vegan by science (takes a sip of his coffee).
Rachel: Really? That’s curious. I thought that most scientists are cold materialists incapable of feeling things like compassion and love. And even if they do, they don’t attach much importance to them. They live in the world of logic and numbers.
Bill: In most cases, that’s true. For many years I’ve specialized in microbiology and biology. Then I began to study archeology, the history of mankind and social sciences. After that, I became interested in ecology and the study of the planet's biosphere. To make it short, at one point I realized that something is wrong with humanity. It seemed to me that humanity is a dead-end branch of evolution.
Rachel: Wow! That’s a strong statement... What made you think that?
Bill: I studied the way primitive people lived. I studied how animals live. I studied how we live today, and realized that humans are a very dangerous species. We possess an absolute advantage over all other living beings on the planet, namely, a developed brain and awareness, and we pose a real threat to all the living things on the planet. Nature’s experiment to create an intellectually developed being has gotten out of control and now threatens to destroy the very nature itself.
Rachel: I know what you're talking about. I myself was horrified when I began to study this issue. We ruthlessly destroy forests, air, soil, animals...
Bill: And don’t forget the cruelty and cynicism that we employ. We don’t just rape nature, we burn it down to the ground. We don’t just kill animals, we torment and taunt them, depriving them of their freedom and dignity.
Rachel: Yeah, we didn’t even learn to respect each other. I used to think we live at a time when human rights and freedoms are inviolable. How wrong I was...
Bill: But people can at least somehow protect their rights. And who will protect animals’ rights? They are generally defenseless against humans. A person can do whatever he wants to them. If he wants to, he can skin them alive. And if he wants to – he can use them for sexual perversions.
Rachel: Yes, that's terrible.
Bill: And you know what the saddest thing is, Rachel? The fact that I don’t see any evolution of the human race, compared with our half-savage ancestors. There is no quality improvement. Only quantitative growth. There are a lot of us, we consume excessively, we kill and torment and destroy increasingly more.
Rachel: The most annoying thing is that very few people think about it.
Bill: You know why? Mankind is missing something to become what nature had intended it to be. Apparently, something went wrong at some point. People should have been the pinnacle of nature’s evolution, and actually became its greatest mistake.
Rachel: But there are those who understand all this. For example, people like you and me.
Bill: Please notice, Rachel, I'm not talking about individuals, but about humanity as a whole. There are very few people like you. And all of your good intentions will not be able to prevent a disaster. Do you know that we are just a step away from a global catastrophe?
Rachel: Yes, I’ve heard about it. But these issues are now being discussed at the highest level. Ecology is becoming a priority throughout the world.
Bill: Yes, but it's just too late to change anything. People no longer have time for it. They should have thought about this 50 years ago, when intelligent people started talking about it – and now it's too late. Have you read Dennis Meadows's "Limits of Growth" reports? They describe all of this in great detail. I’ve been dealing with this issue for the last 5 years. I can tell you as a scientist - humanity is doomed.
Rachel: I'm really sad to hear that... Is there really no way out?
Bill: Not for humanity, no. But there is still the chance to save the nature and biosphere of our planet.
Rachel: And how can this be done?
Bill: It’s very easy, my darling, very easy... Sorry, I need to use the restroom.
Bill finished his cold coffee, picked up his suitcase and went to the restroom.
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