BP, Dillard's, and Providence

By Pam Brundige Batson - As all of you know, I've been distressed about the deaths of the baby dolphins. I had planned to use my day off today to go to the beach and scout around. But then, I couldn't bring myself to go. What would I do should a dolphin calf wash up at my feet? It would surely send me into a hysterical tizzy, and who's listening anyway? After all, only this morning did I read an AP article citing that scientists have already dis-qualified the oil spill as a possible culprit in the MURDERS. So, wallowing in my self-pity and sense of overwhelming defeat, I did what any self-respecting woman does when depressed --- I went shopping.  

I was at a cosmetics counter in Dillard's making a purchase when my phone rang. I reached down in the side pocket of my purse to retrieve it and realized I'd laid it on the counter when going for my debit card. When I looked up, I obviously had set it down with the display screen facing the sales clerk, because her eyes grew as big as saucers -- the screen was flashing the name: Senator Jeff Sessions. Figuring that it was only his office assistant, as usual, I pressed IGNORE. Somewhat embarrassed (although I'm not sure why) I mumbled something to the sales clerk about not being in the mood for yet more excuses in answer to my long list of complaints. To my surprise, the woman reached across the counter and touched my arm. "Tell me that you're complaining to him about BP and the oil spill."  

When I nodded yes, tears suddenly streamed down her cheeks, and she began to tell me about her family's crab-processing plant, how her parents had lost everything, and her brothers who were now unemployed. "There are no crabs, you know. There are no crabs!" she said, as she was now tugging on my arm. "What's my family going to do? My parents don't know anything else. They're losing their business and now they're going to lose their home. Can you tell Senator Sessions to help them? Why isn't he helping them? He's from Mobile but he's not helping anybody."

By the time I left, both of us were in tears. Can I get help for her? I don't know. I have her family's contact information and their story which I certainly will include in my next letter of complaint to our two sorry U.S. senators from Alabama. But that's not really my point in relaying this account.

The point is that I left that department store saddened by yet another tragic story of lives ruined, yet I also left with a good feeling. The feeling that comes when knowing that corporate and political greed might seem like the Goliath in this fight, but don't count us Davids out yet. What are the odds that I would be in that place, in the presence of that particular person, with my cell phone shining in her face when a U.S. senator's office called? I'd say somewhere around a billion to one.

This is not just about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This is about us as members of the human race. Wherever you live, whatever you might be doing, stay alert to the people you meet in your community, those who need to share their story. By keeping your heart and mind open, there is no telling who you might be able to help.

Or you could be like me. Just when I was getting really bitter about BP and the government winning every facet of this fight, I got a swift kick in the butt from what I call my oil spill angels. Their message: You, The People, haven't even begun to fight, but you're starting to find each other.....so the other side better watch out.

Pam Brundige Batson is a mother of two, pharmacist and Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana volunteer.  An Alabama resident,  Pam's contributions to the Gulf coast area have been tremendous and motivated by her love of the Gulf, the environment and wildlife and people of the region