Friday...ahhh. What a beautiful word. What makes it even better? Half-day Friday! As I left work, I contemplated what I could do with this magical time that I had just been gifted. I could go home, relax or maybe get a head-start on homework. I could go for a walk or sit in my garden. But not today. I had errands to run. James starts camp next week then he's off to Pittsburgh for the summer and I will be heading to Maine for residency. I've got things to do!
I stopped at the mall for a few things and since Wegmans was conveniently located at the mall, I decided to "feed two birds with one scone" and get my grocery shopping done too.
Wegmans has always held a special place in my heart. In college, we would travel in packs to Wegmans to "play adult." Packets of Ramen and jugs of Arizona Green Tea, the college student's gourmet dinner. As you can imagine, when Wegmans started to expand to Massachusetts, I was thrilled. I was probably more excited than I should've been, but there you have it.
My relationship has now turned...complicated.
As I got on the escalator in search of strawberries, a pit in my stomach began to form and then I remembered...."Oh, right. The lobsters." You may remember the prior run in I had with the lobsters.
Here's a little story to get you up to speed.
During a quick trip to Wegmans this past fall, my son James and I stumbled across a tank of live lobsters. It was completely jarring. I mean, I was used to seeing vacuumed sealed cows every time we went to the store but this was different. This time, the animal was alive. I wasn't prepared for that. The lobsters were crammed on top of each other (literally) and unable to move.
I felt helpless and conflicted. What do I do? I could be the good little shopper and mind my own business or I could say something, witness the rolling eyes of the employees, and take a hit on my people pleasing scale for the day.
Without missing a beat, my son asked that we talk to someone about what was happening. I took his lead and we found the manager. James explained that the lobster's shouldn't be in the tanks and asked that they be returned to the sea so that they could be with their families. I was so proud of James for having the courage to speak up, even when I was wavering.
Getting back to today...I stepped off the escalator and I thought to myself, "Don't do this to yourself, keep walking." My curiosity got the better of me. It's always going to be me and those lobsters, isn't it? I had to go over to the tank. As expected, layers of lobsters stacked on top of each other. I searched around and barely any movement.
A couple came up to the tank and said, "$10.99/lb, not bad." They looked over to me for agreement. I just looked back, hoping if they stayed just a moment or two longer that they would not just look at the price tag, but at the eyes of the beings one foot away and realize that $10.99/lb was just too high a price to pay for a life.
I stayed watching the lobsters for a while. Then the moment came. What was I going to do? It was my glorious half-day Friday. I could just walk away and leave it for another day. I tried to walk away but my feet wouldn't let me. I went searching for someone to talk to. I had no idea what I was going to say but I had to say something. These beings still had a chance.
I took off my introvert cape and put on my "I'm still an introvert but I'm going to be extra brave right now cape" and found someone that was working in the "seafood" section. I said, "Excuse me, the lobster's aren't able to move." He came promptly out and said that he would check. He looked and agreed that they were a little cramped but explained that that's just how they like to gather. I kindly rebutted that this was not enough space and that they couldn't move and that I didn't believe they should be in there. He explained that a lobster doesn't have a brain and can't feel pain. "But there is evidence that they do. They are quite an intelligent species," I explained. "I don't know about that," he quickly chirped.
I wasn't surprised by his response. Our society, despite all evidence, still doesn't want to believe that lobsters, or any other nonhuman animals, can feel pain.
According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, lobsters can not only feel pain but they can learn to anticipate and try to avoid pain.
Zoologists have found that lobsters don’t have the ability to go into ‘shock’ so when they are exposed to cruel procedures, their suffering is prolonged.
Scientists have found that it can take between 35-45 seconds for lobsters to die when plunged into a pot of boiling water.
Not knowing what else he could offer me, the gentleman suggested that I talk to his manager, let's call her Lisa. Lisa was very polite and attentive. I explained why I had concerns. She said she would speak to her manager and the Maine Lobster supplier to talk about recommended size requirements for the lobsters. She didn't understand what I was trying to say but I didn't expect her too. I knew that I was being "handled," but I thanked her for her time and offered a friendly smile. You never know, maybe somewhere along the way, someone will experience a change of heart because of my conversation. Today, this was the best that I could do, even on a half-day Friday.
Shifting our paradigm of thinking so that we not only create a more compassionate world, but a world that works for all.