by Laura Moretti - Animals' Agenda
The Golden Gate Bridge lived up to its reputation the
afternoon I needed to see it: a spectacular, majestic monument against
the sunlit horizon of the city skyline. It took my breath away. The
harbor was alive with boats, their white sails contrasting with the deep
blue bay. I strolled Fisherman's Wharf, and in particular, the famous
Pier 39, with all of its shops and restaurants.
There was the street fare, dancers and musicians,
children on roller skates, elderly couples just enjoying the view. Angel
Island was in the near distance and, on occasion, a jet airliner passed
I was envious to think that most people have such
relaxing afternoons. Seems I'm always in front of the computer (as I am
writing this), keeping abreast of the news, writing my legislators, and
often forgetting the world out there is anything but the realm of
It was refreshing to feel the salty air, to hear the
bells of trolleys in the railed streets. San Francisco, in a way, is
little piece of New York City, alive with the unusual.
I would treat myself to lunch in an outdoor restaurant
overlooking the bay; I'd go shopping later before taking the long crawl
home, and consider the afternoon a sorely needed,
definitely-hit-the-spot experience. A minivacation, if you will, from
the everyday bombardment of animal exploitation and
But I spent a good hour reading the posted menus on
restaurant doors: crab, lobster, sailfish, shrimp, and names defining
other sea creatures I'd never even heard of before. I was lucky to find
an Italian restaurant on the Wharf but its fare was mainly steak and
veal, turning me off completely to whatever pasta may have been buried
in the fine print. I passed food vendors selling hot dogs and ice cream.
I passed the crab-boiling pots on the sidewalks, the lobster steamers,
the prawn crunchers. What a life: to eat anything you wanted and not
give a damn about how it died.
I heard the sea lions long before I saw them. Crowds had
gathered at the west side of Pier 39 to watch the cumbersome animals
emerge from the sea onto docks reserved especially for them. By now I
was a bit sarcastic. When I read the sign that explained how the seals
had taken over the pier but were allowed to stay at the request of
tourists, I got snide about half-truths. Somewhere on that sign, I
thought, the battle it took activists to rescue the sea lions from
government guns should have at least been mentioned.
Humans are fascinated by animals. Carousels and posters
and images on T-shirts, stuffed animals, and statuettes, feeding pigeons
and sea lions, buying books and toys, puzzles and games, all filled with
animals, real and imagined. And yet so few of them have any inkling
whatsoever that they're wading neck-deep in animal exploitation and
misery caused by their own hands.
Boy, did I need a vacation from The Escape.
I hadn't felt that alone in the world since I couldn't
Back to my truck I went, longing for the computer screen
and my fellow comrades. San Francisco, enlightened? Hardly. I passed
Safeway and hunger drove me inside (so much for that quaint, romantic
lunch on a sunny dock overlooking the blue harbor and its sailboats). I
bought an apple, a jar of green olives, some sourdough bread, and
sun-dried tomatoes. I'd eat in the truck on my way home, and say goodbye
to an other wise waste of a day.
At the counter, the cashier asked me if I was a
vegetarian. She said she noticed I didn't have any meat in my stash, and
was just curious; it was something she often noticed.
"I'm a vegetarian, too," she said after I nodded. "I
can't believe what we do to animals. When people ask me where they can
find the meat section, I point them to the back and tell them the morgue
I couldn't speak for a moment. I just stared at her and
bit my lip.
"Are you all right?" she asked, somewhat puzzled.
I smiled at her. "I am now."
We're out there, aren't we, in little pockets here and
there, in the middle of it all, doing our own work, some of us in
quieter ways? That's why I'd come to San Francisco: for the reminder.
Keep fighting the good fight.
“Reprinted with permission from The Animals’ Agenda,
P.O. Box 25881,
Baltimore, MD 21224; (410) 675-4566;
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