She has a weak heart–it beats erratically when she is frightened or angry or determined. She wonders, seeing the two Vannguard small trucks both idling along a street near her house, do I have it in me to approach these workers in their citron vests, spraying different colors on sidewalks and streets?

She’s seen cars idling in front of neighbors’ homes–often because the owner of car and home is “running inside for a minute, oh don’t worry, I’ll be back in a jiff.” Idling, odd word for a car engine that is running in place. She does some research:
*Idling for more than a second uses as much fuel as restarting the car.
* Idling 10 minutes is the equivalent of going 5 miles
* Idling 10 minutes a day for a year uses 27 gallons of gasoline

Idling. There is no poem for idling. No poem for adding carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide, not to mention benzene to the atmosphere. We like to burn ourselves up, she thinks. We like to dump as much toxic material into lakes, streams, ground, air as possible. We do not connect”idle” with children breathing, with plants, trees, birds, beavers, etc etc–you fill in the blanks. We are quintessentially idle, loungers across the landscape. Or hackers, yup, many of us like to hack and hew. Now she’s thinking of Gerard Manley Hopkins, grateful for an overlay of beautiful language to help quiet her erratic heart.

She looks up Vannguard (two n’s) Utility Partners. They have offices in DeForest, Wisconsin, ironic, DeForest, meaning “of the forest,” when this idling of their trucks, if prolonged and repeated, will surely help deforest, meaning wipe away those stands of green needles and leaves, the soughing of wind in branches, the partners in replenishing oxygen which we humans do like to breathe, it’s one of our favorite pastimes, this breathing of clean air, children especially being smaller, have a harder time with polluted air, which idling cars/trucks/school buses makes more difficult, more problematic, children with asthma on the rise, according to a medical website. No known reason. Ha, she has a reason right here.

The worker in citron vest returning to the Vannguard (two n’s) small truck, still idling, laughs a short “Ha,” when she suggests (was it kindly?) that idling isn’t great for the car–she’s making this up on the spot, but now finds it’s right, something about spark plugs gathering carbon deposits since the car is not burning off all its impurities in the gas.

This “Ha,” a kind of snort, which she’s heard before, usually out of the snouts of men rather than women, a happy dismissal of any curtailment of easy-going ways. Not that she’s opposed to taking it easy. In fact, easy would be cutting the engine.

Isn’t this guy in his citron vest just a little bit worried that as he leaves his Vannguard (two n’s) truck idling near her home,that someone might jump in and drive away with it, keys certainly still in the ignition which is on?

There, she’s done it, confronted the Idler. And is her heart erratic and jumpy? No, surprisingly. She’s filled with righteous energy. Decides to follow through on her frequent pledge to print up a card against Idling–Vermont, where idling is illegal, displays just such a thing on its state-sponsored website against idling. Wouldn’t it be a good thing too in Minnesota–to make idling illegal? Then she could take down the license number and file a complaint. Which she will do, in any case, hoping that Vannguard (two n’s) takes to heart this message against idling.

Vannguard Utility Partners, 5927 Haase Rd., DeForest, Wisconsin 53532, telephone: 608-223-2014. They might find it easy to respond if they received lots of letters or phone calls about their idle ways.

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